So, NBA League Pass is still free, is everyone taking complete advantage of it? Personally its my first experience with League Pass, and I don’t know that I’ve missed a game yet! Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth and take advantage of tonight’s free action. Scout opponents, check on your fantasy squad, diversify your bonds! On to the games:
(All times Eastern. The Left Coast ain’t the best coast, kids.)
Detroit at Miami, 8pm (On TNT)
Game between two supposed powers in the east, and I say supposed because personally I think the both teams are running a pretty impressive tab with father time. This game will also give you a good look at Ricky Davis playing for South Beach for the first time, as well as our old friend skippy Blount. Look for a much more prepared Detroit team to execute better (Chemistry matters.) and come out with the win. Also the over/under on Shaquille O'Neal weight is 370, what’s your bet?
Players to watch: See how former C's Ricky Davis and Mark Blount are worked into the rotation. Davis should see time early and late, and well in the middle too because he's their only real wing scoring option with D-Wade still out. Blount, could see some serious time too, however. Shaq can't be in shape yet, Alonzo Mourning just decided (for ceral) to come back for one more year, and Earl Barron, despite offering promise in prior years, can't seem to break the rotation.
Houston at Utah, 9:00pm (KJZZ, or League Pass if you don’t live in Utah)
Both teams coming off of wins against 2 of last season’s playoff teams come together for an early rematch of last seasons 7 game 1st round playoff series. You have to think Houston is thinking must win, statement game, because dropping a 2-0 lead then falling in 7 must still be very present in Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming’s minds. Utah however looked very strong against Golden State on Tuesday, while the Rockets barely escaped with a win against Kobe Bryant the same evening. Based on Deron Williams’ stellar play on last game the Jazz seem to be already flying out the gate, while the Rockets newest additions haven’t quite seemed to mesh yet (Luis Scola often looked lost or frustrated), so look for Utah to start its first win streak of the season.
Player to watch: Luis Scola. He seems to be a huge cog in Houston’s plans, especially after the surprising release of PF/C Jackie Butler at the end of the preseason. Houston taking the next step forward depends a lot on when Scola figures out the NBA game.
Phoenix at Seattle, 10:30pm (On TNT)
Defense may as well become a dirty word come the late game on Thursday. Rookie Kevin Durant’s debut last night wasn’t exactly other-worldly, but it sure wasn’t bad either. He started slow but eventually he picked it up showing a little bit of why he deserved so much hype. However, he’ll have more issue scoring against a more than capable Shawn Marion than he did with offensively minded Carmelo Anthony and a lesser skilled Linus Kleiza. This, coupled with the number of shots Durant takes (and Carlesimo seems more than eager to allow) pretty much guarantees Seattle’s fortunes will buoy up and down with the promising rookie’s performance. The water in Seattle will be low tonight.
Player to watch: See how Grant Hill’s addition affects the Phoenix offensive juggernaut. Also, watch to see where Hill plays, as he can play both the 2 or the 3 guard. If he plays the 3 however, he'll be forced to guard Kevin Durant, which would work in Seattle's favor. Wherever he plays however, I’m going to bet that after the first quarter we’ll have forgotten that this is his first season in Arizona.
Well that’s the preview for tonight, forgive me if it’s a little clunky, beginner’s syndrome. Check out the games and share your random thoughts in the 11/1 Game Thread. Link here.