HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Well, it might not be Heat-Celtics, Lakers-Mavericks or feature any of the marquee individual matchups that signal the start of something huge, but the official start of the 2012-13 NBA season only happens once.
And that’s tonight in Cleveland, where the Cavaliers host the Washington Wizards at 7 p.m. ET in the real opener (the TNT doubleheader between the aforementioned blood rivals doesn’t kick off until 8 p.m. ET). So for at least the first hour of this season, all eyes will be on Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving and his crew as they usher in the new year (so to speak).
He won’t have Wizards point guard John Wall to square off against since Wall is out with a knee injury that could sideline him well into December. (Wall, center Nene [plantar fascitis] and forward Kevin Seraphin [strained right calf] are all officially listed as “questionable” tonight.)
But that won’t matter, not to a competitor like Irving (ask Kobe Bryant how competitive he is) who has his sights set on leading the Cavaliers back to the playoffs after a two-season absence.
Irving is coming back from his own preseason bout with the doctors, having had four wisdom teeth pulled last week and returning to his coaches and teammates over the weekend. Irving lost a couple of pounds and felt a bit weakened after having his teeth pulled, but you know he’ll be ready for the bright lights of opening night.
So what if the Cavaliers begin their 43rd NBA season with one of the youngest rosters in the league and starting lineup featuring rookie Dion Waiters and journeyman Alonzo Gee?
Cavs coach Byron Scott has high expectations for his team as well, writing out a set of goals for each player that he passed out over the weekend.
The playoffs would seem to be a bit of a stretch for a team that managed just 21 wins last season. But in a wide-open chase for the final two spots in the Eastern Conference, the Cavaliers are daring themselves to do something bigger than expected.