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:
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.
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?