The 2013 NBA preseason is in full swing, as all 30 NBA teams test their respective rotations for the regular season. Some will claim that the preseason is meaningless to regular-season success, but if the Los Angeles Lakers' slow start in 2012-13 taught us anything, momentum is critical.
The question is, which Tuesday games will stand out from the rest?
Brooklyn Nets at Washington Wizards
Time: 7 p.m. ET
TV: NBA TV
The Brooklyn Nets have one of the most dramatically improved rosters in the NBA. The Washington Wizards went from a top-pick contender to a postseason-caliber team upon John Wall's return from injury in 2012-13.
On Tuesday, we'll get a look at how ready each team is for the regular season.
Brooklyn already had a championship-caliber core in place with Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez, but lacked the edge to push them over the top. The Nets proceeded to acquire the likes of Kevin Garnett, Andrei Kirilenko and Paul Pierce.
Transition defense may be an issue, but Brooklyn can go toe-to-toe with any team in the NBA and emerge victorious in a seven-game series.
The Wizards started the 2012-13 NBA regular season at 5-28, but went 24-25 upon Wall's return from injury. Not much else changed, thus displaying Wall's status as a franchise player.
Now, the Wizards will look to their young-and-rising backcourt of Wall and Bradley Beal to lead this top-10 defense to the postseason. It all starts with a game that's come full circle.
Brooklyn is the more legitimate threat to win an NBA championship, but Washington has the necessary depth to earn a postseason berth. How far the Wizards go is yet to be determined, but after ranking No. 8 in scoring defense and No. 5 in opponent field goal percentage in 2012-13, the upside is undeniable.
Prepare for a battle.
Golden State Warriors at Utah Jazz
Time: 9 p.m. ET
The Golden State Warriors are a developing NBA championship contender with an excellent balance of rising stars and established veterans. The Utah Jazz have rid themselves of experience and will now move forward with one of the best young cores in the NBA.
Look for a highly-competitive game between these two squads.
Utah doesn't have the look of a postseason team, but it has a promising young player at every position. Trey Burke has star potential at point guard, Alec Burks has flashed upside at the 2, Gordon Hayward is a dynamic small forward and Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter form a potentially dominant interior.
Throw in reserves such as Brandon Rush and Marvin Williams and Utah will be a fun team to watch in 2013-14.
The Warriors have one of the best starting lineups in the NBA with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, David Lee and Andrew Bogut. Postseason star Harrison Barnes has been moved to sixth man and both Festus Ezeli and Draymond Green were impressive in 2013-14.
The question is, how will Golden State overcome the significant departures of Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry?
Utah should keep things in the half court, with Burke running the pick-and-roll for his potentially elite big men. Golden State, meanwhile, will look to push the pace and impose its will with a high-quality interior of its own.
Regardless of how this game ends up, it will be one of the most entertaining of the preseason.
Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Lakers
Time: 10 p.m. ET
TV: NBA TV
For the second time this preseason, the Denver Nuggets will meet the Los Angeles Lakers. The first time they played, Denver defeated Los Angeles 97-88 in a game that can only be described as ugly.
Don't expect these two teams to shoot below 43.0 percent in this one.
The Lakers are playing without Kobe Bryant, and their preseason opener suggested that Nick Young is playing his role. Young was 4-of-16 for nine points, but the promising signs were there, as Pau Gasol was a central focus offensively.
It doesn't hurt that Xavier Henry led the team in playing time and went 4-of-7 for 15 points, three rebounds and a steal.
Ty Lawson led Denver by going 7-of-10 for 15 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in 27:01. Jordan Hamilton added 15 on 7-of-12 shooting, and Brian Shaw's team finally began to flash upside in the half court.
Expect the rematch to be just as high scoring with an added sense of efficiency.
The Lakers should look to continue pounding it inside to Gasol and also test Henry as a potential source of points off the bench. The Nuggets should take a similar approach, consistently giving the ball to Hamilton and discovering how ready JaVale McGee is to work out of the post.
It's all a feeling-out process during the preseason, but both teams can go a long way toward determining their game plan by how well they perform in this game.