After a super hyped off-season filled with trades and free agent signings, the NBA begins its 2010-2011 season tonight. The first day of the season features a few high-profile games, sure to get fans pumped for the long season ahead.
The first official game takes place in Boston where last year’s Finals runners up, Celtics take on the revamped Miami Heat. If you don’t know why this game is garnering so much interest you may have been living under a rock or in a cave somewhere for the past four months.
Using the term ‘revamped’ to describe the Heat is an understatement. The majority of players the Heat will put on the floor tonight wore another team’s jerseys last year. Most notably one player who used to wear Cleveland across his chest. Not to be discounted the Celtics have a big-name newcomer as well. If a first game of the season ever had the right to be described as ‘important’ it’s this one.
The summer’s free agent market was one of the most speculated and controversial ever. The league’s biggest name and arguably its best player decided to leave his hometown and take his talents to South Beach. LeBron James wasn’t the only one to packed his things and fly South in search of that elusive ring. He brought along Chris Bosh and a few others to join Dwayne Wade’s team, in hopes of ending the season with some new bling.
Never to be outdone, Shaquile O’Neal decided it was time he take his talents somewhere else as well in search of more jewelry and signed with the Celtics. Boston is certainly banking on the addition of Shaq to help them compete with his old team in Miami for the Eastern Conference crown. Because while the Celtics may have won the East last year, the new Heat are hugely favored after all their off season additions.
Though the East has gotten most of the press during the off season, the reigning NBA Champs are in the West and until someone changes that next June, the Lakers are still the team to beat. Kobe Bryant and Lake show, who it bears noting made very little changes to their roster from last year, begin their season long defense of the title at home in the Staples Center taking on one of the teams that may challenge them in the Houston Rockets.
After missing the playoffs last year, Houston is back to full strength with Yao Ming back in the lineup after missing all of last season due to injuries. The Rockets hope to build on last year’s development of some their younger players and make a run at the defending champs.
The third of tonight’s opening day games is the Phoenix Suns against the Portland Trailblazers. Compared to the other two high profile, high expectation games, this one kind of fizzles.
For the past four years Steve Nash’s Suns were always in the mix for the title in the West but that ship appears to have sailed East (along with everyone else it seems) to New York, where Nash’s go to man on the offensive end Amare Stoudemire, signed during the summer. Even Nash, the team’s ringleader, has expressed his doubts about the team’s ability to compete with the best of the West after taking a hard hit with the loss of Amare.
As usual Portland’s roster is depleted due to injuries, and left somewhat scrambling to field a solid starting lineup behind LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy. For the third year in a row, the Blazers will start their season without their 2007 top draft pick, Greg Oden as he is still recovering from injuries that have sidelined him for each of the past two seasons.
While the NBA season is a long one and day one is way to early to make predictions, it’s obvious the league is hopeful tonight’s match ups will set the pace for an exciting six months of basketball. After tonight, fans are going to have lots to talk about. Whether the talk be about the off season roster changes, up and coming teams, newly formed rivalries or unfortunate flops and falls from grace, it all begins tonight.