NBA Preview and Predictions: October 26
We made it past opening night of the NBA season! The Cavaliers proved they are ready to defend their title, while the Spurs showed that you shouldn’t count them out as they dismantled the Warriors.
Tonight starts the second night, and there are 10 games on the docket. Here is a look at five of them:
Heat @ Magic 6:00 CT
The battle for Florida tips off tonight in Orlando.
Miami will start it’s first season without Dwayne Wade tonight. It marks the end of an era for this team. The question becomes whether or not their young squad can step up and fill the shoes that Wade and others have set before them.
Miami will have to hope that the money spent on Hassan Whiteside will prove to be worth it. Whiteside is an extremely valuable rim protector, but they are going to need him to step into a much larger team role if they are going to be successful.
On the opposite side of the ball, Orlando boosted their post presence this offseason with the addition of Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo.
Ibaka’s ability to spread the floor should help this offense, and that should help boost the development that Evan Fournier experienced last season.
Prediction: Orlando 95 – Miami 90
Mavericks @ Pacers 6:00 CT
The Mavericks begin another season where they missed out on some larger free agent names as they travel north to face the Pacers.
The Mavericks have had players in the past that they thought would help lighten the workload of the aging Dirk Nowitzki, however it has never turned out in their benefit.
Could this be the year that changes?
This depends on the development of two players they picked up this offseason: Harrison Barnes and Seth Curry.
Barnes faced a lot of ridicule in his time with the Warriors as he could be one of the best shooters on the team one game and then be one of the worst in the league the next five. He was almost non-existent in the Finals, and has anything but spectacular so far in preseason. He is going to need to prove himself as a consistent player if he wants to silence the critics.
Then there is the other Curry. He has had a relatively quiet career, in the NBA at least. He has led the D-League in 3-pointers just like his older brother, but may finally have found a spot to really show what he can do.
Curry has been solid in preseason posting a few 20-point performances, but time will tell if that pans to the regular season.
The Pacers also boast some changes of their own that might make them better, Jeff Teague and Al Jefferson.
They both have been solid players for their former teams, and also bring playoff experience to this Pacers squad.
The real key for the Pacers will be if Paul George takes that step towards MVP caliber. He posted a very good season last year after coming back from his horrific leg injury, and another year should help him be even better.
Prediction: Pacers 107 – Mavericks 96
Nets vs Celtics 6:30 CT
The Nets head on over to Boston to open up their season as they look to try and find a spot in the playoffs. The Celtics look to prove they are a team to be taken seriously in the East and possibly even the ones to dethrone the Cavaliers.
The Nets roster leaves a lot to be desired. The biggest names on the roster are Brook Lopez and Jeremy Lin.
Lopez has been as consistent as he can be for this team each year, but has never really had anyone there to help take the team to the next level.
The signing of Jeremy Lin could prove to be beneficial for the Nets as he has shown flashes of that potential he once had in New York. To truly prove he is worthy of that contract though, he is going to need to be a top player for this team every night. If he can put up numbers around 15 PPG and 7 APG, this team may have something to build on.
The Celtics already have their star point guard and they added a solid presence in Al Horford.
Isaiah Thomas has proven he is one of the top point guards in the East despite being one of the smallest around. He plays both sides of the ball and can terrorize you with his speed and passing.
The addition of Horford gives the Celtics a true big man presence, and could set them up for some very good pick-and-roll opportunities.
However, in the end, it is the better roster and shooting ability of Boston that separates them from Brooklyn.
Prediction: Celtics 108 – Nets 91
Pistons @ Raptors 6:30 CT
Detroit heads to the 6 to face off against the Raptors.
The Pistons didn’t do a lot in terms of bringing in big names this offseason, but they did provide some scoring potential to help Andre Drummond out.
Ish Smith is capable of pouring in points in bunches, especially if your defense isn’t very good. He is very quick and can drive by almost anyone.
Tobias Harris also helps Detroit out with a bigger presence to put in the middle of the court. Harris also allows for some stretching of the court to potentially keep some of the double-teams off of Drummond.
The Raptors will have to show that they have not already reached the plateau with this team.
They let Biyombo go in the offseason, which means they will rely a lot more on Jonas Valanciunas. This can be both a good and a bad thing. Valanciunas is a huge player in terms of scoring down low and the defense that he provides. Unfortunately, he had health issues in the playoffs, and the Raptors need to hope that those don’t show back up.
The guard play of Lowry and DeRozan is the deciding factor in this game, and it will be too much for Detroit to handle.
Prediction: Raptors 103 – Pistons 94
Timberwolves @ Grizzlies 7:00 CT
The young Timberwolves head down to Memphis for a matchup with Grizzlies.
The Timberwolves were an offensive force last season. They have the hustle that few other teams have, and it goes through the entire bench. Unfortunately, their defense was not very good.
The addition of Coach Tom Thibodeau should change that. He made the Bulls one of the best defensive teams in the league. He also helped develop young players like Jimmy Butler into great players. This is the perfect team for him to take over.
Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins are the best young duo in the NBA right now, and could establish both of themselves as all-stars this season.
The real question surrounds the scoring ability of the guards. Ricky Rubio has never been much of a scorer, but the draft pick Kris Dunn is one of the best guards from this year’s class. He has all the skills Rubio has and then some, shooting ability being the main difference.
Memphis is coming off of a season that saw them injury riddled and wire thin when they got to the playoffs. They are hoping that they can overcome that this season with an aging roster.
Their main addition this offseason was Chandler Parsons, and he will miss tonight’s game with a knee injury.
This will leave a lot of the load to fall on Marc Gasol and Mike Conley.
Unfortunately for the Grizzlies that will not be enough against this rising Timberwolves team.
Prediction: Timberwolves 109 – Grizzlies 95
| Malachi David covers the NBA for MyFantasySportsTalk.com |