Opening night for the NBA features three intriguing matchbooks with story line abound.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics
The first of which is Cleveland visiting the defending Champion Boston Celtics, who received their rings before the start of the contest. Boston faces a Cleveland team that thinks they are capable of uprooting the champs with the acquisition of a second scorer to compliment Lebron James in Mo Williams. The shoot-first point guard is set to give Lebron a second option on a what has seemed to be a one-man team at times during Lebron’s tenure.
No one can forget the 2007-08 NBA champions who pulled off a blockbuster trade for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen to rejuvenate a Celtic team that nearly got head coach Doc Rivers fired. The champions received their rings before the festivities got under way. The ceremony featured an emotional Paul Pierce, whom never wavered in tough times in Boston. Pierce stuck it out as the Celtics became the laughing stock of the NBA only posting a measly 24-58 record before rebounding on the back of three superstars. They are looking to stay motivating in the 2008-09 season and follow up on their championship season.
Milwaukee Bucks at Chicago Bulls
Milwaukee Bucks coach Scott Skiles will return to Chicago for the first time since his Christmas eve firing.
The “Baby Bulls” were on the cusp when they faced the Detroit Pistons in the NBA 2005-06 Conference Finals. A year later they were without their coach as they struggled to find their identity and wins. While it is doubtful that his addition will pay immediate dividends, Derrick Rose is sure to give the Bulls an open court threat and some electrifying highlights.
The Bucks were no such team. They have Michael Redd, Richard Jefferson and the aforementioned Skiles, but not much has been seen, nor is much expected, from Milwaukee. There’s not much to say about the club that shipped off 20 points per game when they let Mo Williams go.
Portland Trailblazers at LA Lakers
Portland is an upstart team who looks poised to challenge traditional Western Conference powers for years to come. Brandon Roy and Lemarcus Aldridge are a formidable twosome that will only improve with the big-man Greg Oden finally available to occupy the middle. They will face a Lakers team that nearly won an NBA title without Andrew Bynum.
Kobe Bryant has forgone surgery on his finger and withstood preseason knee problems. Yet, he is the NBA’s best player and is sure to be in full form when they face Portland.
The Lakers also have the second-biggest trade acquisition of last season in Pal Gasol. The addition of Bynum will allow Gasol to take his finesse game to power forward position while also adding to the bench by moving Lamar Oden to the six-man spot.
The first night of NBA games are packed with story lines and it is sure to be a great night, and escape from the messy ordeal that is the Major League Baseball World Series.