Time To Show And Prove

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – You waited all summer for this.

And now it’s here.

We get a monster three-game appetizer tonight to kick off the NBA season, Wednesday’s 13-game slate is the outlandish first course and we’ll have eight months worth of goods to work through before a champion is crowned.

Thankfully, the powers that be in the scheduling department decided to give us an opening-night preview, with three NBA Finals favorites on display.

Miami at Boston, 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT

Phoenix at Portland, 10 p.m. ET

Houston at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. ET on TNT

It’s show and prove time for all of them, too, not just those cats in Miami (who obviously enter this season with unprecedented hype for a team that’s been together for mere months).

All six teams taking the floor tonight have questions that need answering, things that we need to know right now, before they dive in and pledge allegiance to a team they think is the real deal:

HEAT

Who cracks first, the Heat or the competition? Erik Spoelstra‘s team (we can call them that, at least for now, right?) has already adopted the “us-against-the-world” mantra needed to chase a title. In fact, I can’t remember a team preparing itself better for a theoretical championship run than the Heat has done since July, which started with the LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade mega-merger. But now the theory must be applied in an ultra-competitive environment where the Heat will be the hunted team every single night.

That said, you have to give them credit for making all the right moves. Mike Miller goes down with a hand injury that will sideline for months, so the Heat quickly snag veteran swingman Jerry Stackhouse to fill the void (same way he did for the Bucks last year). There have been no major missteps up to this point … but now it’s time to play the games. And we’re going to see if the Heat can hold up to the pressure, internal and beyond.

CELTICS

With five players 32 or older, everybody is wondering the same thing: can the Celtics will hold up to the rigors of the 82-game regular season and a second straight extended playoff run? Their championship window is clearly much smaller than the one those young whippersnappers in Miami are working with, which will no doubt fuel the Celtics’ fire all season. Can the old men hold up?

That’s also where the Celtics’ improved depth has to come into play. A much deeper supporting cast — including much-needed big men Shaquille O’Neal and Jermaine O’Neal — is the key to Doc Rivers‘ team being able to sustain the level of play we saw from them in the playoffs last season. Glen “Big Baby” Davis, Nate Robinson and eventually Delonte West will all be critical to the cause as well.

SUNS

Steve Nash is the last man standing from the Phoenix revival that began with his arrival in the Valley of The Sun in the summer of 2004. Amar’e Stoudemire was the last man off the island, following Quentin Richardson, Joe Johnson, Shawn Marion, the Colangelos and even their successor, Steve Kerr (who has returned to his TNT family). This is a totally new look for the Suns. But is it one capable of making a return to the Western Conference finals?

Some people don’t even have the Suns in the playoff mix. That’s brazen, to assume that Nash won’t be able to guide his group to the postseason — something that’s happened only once since his return to Arizona in ’04. Few players in the league have shown the ability to adapt to new faces the way Nash has. Still, the onus in Phoenix is on the new additions, namely Hedo Turkoglu, to show us all that he’s still a factor in this league.

TRAIL BLAZERS

We all want the same things from this team. Show us you are as good on the floor as you are on paper. Prove to us that we are wrong to doubt your championship fiber the way we have since injuries ravaged your team last season and left you as a shell of the outfit that had the potential to challenge the Lakers at the start of the 2009-10 season. Nate McMillan’s team is the picture of show and prove.

It all starts in the middle for the Blazers. Marcus Camby played like a guy 10 years younger last season, holding down the starting center position while Greg Oden and Joel Pryzbilla nursed knee injuries. But Camby 36 and asking him to grind all season without adequate help (sorry, Fabricio Oberto) is a daunting task.

ROCKETS

The Rockets have already shown their cards, making it clear that Yao Ming will play just 24 minutes a game, no matter the circumstance. Proving that you can compete for a playoff spot and ultimately a championship with your best player on the floor for just a fraction of every game will be the interesting part for Rick Adelman’s club. We understand that the metrics suggest we should trust the Rockets on this one, but we’re struggling with that one.

The key player in this entire affair is veteran center Brad Miller. If he and Yao both stay healthy all season, they could form the most devastating center combination in the league. Neither will have the responsibility of carrying the load alone, yet they’re both capable of causing major problems for opposing teams in Adelman’s offensive scheme. The (24-minute) clock is ticking, though.

LAKERS

What does the two-time defending NBA champ have to show? What in the name of Naismith could the most successful coach in NBA history have to prove to us or anyone else in this galaxy? They have to show and prove that they can do it all over again, in Phil Jackson’s farewell season and as an underdog (Miami is the favorite of many).

Kobe Bryant‘s never needed any added incentive, he’s always been locked in on his one main goal. The interesting twist is that Pau Gasol, Derek Fisher, Lamar Odom and even Ron Artest have their own Lakers legacies to think about now. A healthy Andrew Bynum certainly helps the cause. But in the meantime, the Lakers have to get used to working in the shadow of Miami’s spotlight.

33 Comments

  1. clover leaf says:

    Celtics won 88-80 over Heat, it’s an indication of things to come this season.. Go Celtics !!!

  2. Lakers Rules says:

    @Paolo1984 for sure Boston will win the season…and Lakers will win the playoffs.Peace y’all!!!

  3. corkery says:

    NO DOUBT the celtics are goin all the way this year! their bench can beat half of the starting line ups this year, and the big 3 are too old, ray allen is in incredible shape, KG is back to his old self and finaly healthy, and ive never seen paul pierce in better shape he’s looking ripped, plus we just ripped the heat haha

  4. Goto Guy says:

    If LA’s healthy come April and then it’ll be the Lakers lifting the trophy in June.

  5. Goto Guy says:

    The Blazers should realize that they need to overhaul early and build a new cast for Roy. Oden is toast, if he ever gets healthy and that’s a big IF, he won’t be the star they envisioned him to be. They can justify him all they want however they need not look bac in time long enough to see someone similar. (Does Olowkandi sound familiar?)

    They have the aging yet reliable Camby at hand and a serviceable Andre Miller (still thinks he doesn’t fit with Roy). Those two can still provide some extra push for a title team come Febuary (they could net out some young talent, role players and some pics for them).

    Roy is a decent foundation that they could build around, but he’ll need a co-star in the back court and some more talent up front if they want to be in the mix for the west, the west has already weakened. No one is in the same level as the Lakers in the west, so rather than fighting to have a shot at the no. 4-6 spot, wouldn’t it be better to get ready for the next couple of years?

  6. JS says:

    heat will win the title, vs OKC. durant MVP. lakers and magic to be the conference runners up.

    • london says:

      I think that mami heat is going to lose Oct 26,10 because last time i checked that the score was mami 41 Boston55 man the boston was beating the mami heat but i will belive that lebron is goingf to be the star of mami heat i don’t understand why mami heat was losing well got to go they are on the 4th quater.

  7. rudster says:

    I believe the Celtics will do it this year mainly because this is IT! That will get them more motivated then they already have been since winning the one 2 years ago and then Miami will have there dynasty.Wise men once said it takes players to win but it takes brains to win it ALL!

  8. Erxhi says:

    C’s are going to win the championship…

  9. Justin Yang says:

    Heeeeeeeeyyyyyyyyyyy. Finally the real game begins here in TNT. BOSTON CELTICS against Miami Heat today. I’m going for the CELTICS because they’re my favorite team of the NBA. I hope that Miami could do team work because they’re gonna need it. The Celtics got new players like Two O’Neals and Delonte West. I can’t beleive that Miami give up Jermaine O’neal. Miami’s gonna face their old teamamte because they give up one of their best powerfoward to the Celtics. I’m so psych about today’s game. I know that Miami’s gonna take the first quarter but Celtics is gonna make a comeback in the 3-4 quarters. i KNOW it.

  10. Joshua Remo says:

    Miami the favorite of many? Uh Lakers are still the best team in the league with the best chance of winning another championship. The GM survey speaks for itself.(look it up)

  11. Paolo1984 says:

    BOSTON will win this season………………………………they have now a complete line up,,,,

  12. THE REAL CUBA OF BOSTON says:

    ok here is wut really is going to happen ,

    the ORLANDO MAJIC will be the number one seed in the EAST , the CELTICS will be number 2 and the HEAT will hold down number 3, number four will be CHICAGO and yes i got the HEAT at number 3 , it takes more time for them to figure out whos passing more and whos going to close out the game, and BOSH will have trouble with these big guys(
    D.HOWARD,PERKINS,JO’NEAL,SHAQ,NOAH-BOOZER,AMARE, JAVALE MCGEE) they will al get him into foul trouble.

    the HEAT should go get ALLEN IVERSON before the ink dries on the TURKEY deal, that would be the missing link for sure, yeah he’s old but he can still paly and possibly most likely still start especially over ARROYO no offense, but it’s A.I

    As far as the west goes LAKERS, JAZZ,OKC,DALLAS,SPURS,ROCKETS,CLIPPERS,BLAZERS in that order .
    when im right remeber CUBA from BOSTON told you so……………………………..

  13. Pagiho says:

    I agree that the heat will do well but not enough to overcome Orlando, Boston, or the Lakers
    Maybe in a few years we will see a heat championship, but definitly not this year
    Kobe is not gonna b as good as last year with the injuries and all
    Celtics r old bt they have proved they stll got it and they got it this year
    Celtics gonna win it all the way! :)

  14. T says:

    Rockets! Just watch…

  15. Hangtime says:

    The Lakers still have alot to prove. i think they are just getting started.

  16. D says:

    Heat don’t have the complete team that either the Lakers or Boston do. Bostons huge depth could prove to be gold come seasons end.

  17. Ogbuefi says:

    Watch out for Durant this year I think they will snatch one of the top seeds in the west.

  18. khell says:

    So sorry for Steve Nash and Co., but Suns will not make it to the playoffs this year…
    Nash should be traded somewhere else…
    Hangtime Grizzlies will be in the mix for the playoff spot this year, and I hope they make it this time….
    Go Grizzlies! Yeah!

  19. Bob says:

    Boston is going to win the championship this year i just know it. but the heat and lakers will be major obsticals if the celtics do win.

  20. JeSuns says:

    Turkoglu is not a good one to help the suns!

  21. LAKERS BABY says:

    I can see the clippers snatch the 8th seed.
    Yea the west is definitely weaker but that will only make it easier for the Lakers to win it all!!

    I would like to see the thunder getting the 2nd seed.

    Can’t w8 for the the season to start in 4.5 hours :D

  22. john says:

    i predict Clippers will make playoffs

  23. Chuck says:

    the west is weaker than ever, or course the suns will make the playoffs. but so will the warriors.

  24. Tony says:

    I believe it’s Fabricio, not Francisco Oberto

  25. 3 says:

    Actually, it’s FABRICIO Oberto, not Francisco.

  26. wolfmann11 says:

    nash to lakers :>

  27. Omarisgay says:

    Suns probly can’t hold a spot i feel real bad for steve nash he needs to be traded to a better team

  28. joshua says:

    Lol poor suns email me wid wat ur fav plays are lawlrofl@inbox.com

    steamname : moneyround

    msn: yomamainabox@hotmsil.com\

    yshoo. littlepost2000

  29. Jay Rich says:

    I believe the suns will make the playoffs just at a 6 or 7 seed. Im looking forward to seeing this years heat tho. I think they will have the best record in the league this yr, but im not sure if they will get the title. One thing is for sure though, if they dont get it this yr, they will definitely get it next yr.

  30. Dutch says:

    Suns aren’t going to the playoffs, period.

    • SHAYAWN says:

      Lets bet on it. I dont think you know what your talking about. Suns will make a playoff run gauranteed/