The NBA recently released the schedules for marquee games for opening week, Christmas day, and Martin Luther King Jr. day. While full schedules will not be released until August 10th, this is plenty to get me salivating for the upcoming season.
While there are interesting matchups a plenty in the released schedule, I just cannot help but look at who LeBron James and the Heat will be facing up against on these key dates. The problem is just like what happens when a friend who will not shut up after I said I have not seen "Inception" starts talking. I already know what happens. Here, I will break down what we can expect from the following games—
Oct. 26 - Heat at Celtics
Oct. 29 - Magic at Heat
Dec. 25 - Heat at Lakers
"I don't even play basketball!"
One thing has gone missing as we all witness the Miami Heat prematurely self-congratulate themselves this offseason. The Boston Celtics are still good. Not only that, they are still the team to beat in the East. Yes pundits have placed the Heat far up front in the pecking order, but I am a firm believer in seeing is believing. Back massages from LeBron to Chris Bosh will not do, I need to see an alley-oop before I make my decision.
This brings me to Boston. We already know what they are. A hard-nosed team that gives my Lakers fits. We also know that an insecure team like Boston will be looking to send a message. I guarantee that someone on the Heat will get an accidental hand to the face. I will just be sad that we will not have Rasheed Wallace there to act like it was his first foul that he has ever committed in his entire life.
Has lead to more thrown remote controls than I can count
It would be much smarter to watch the highlights of this one. With the intensity that the Boston crowd brings, mixed with the start of a new season, mingled with players trying to prove something, this game will be ugly. Errant passes will come in droves, but that is not what scares me. Like any NBA game, what truly gets me scared is the people in little grey t-shirts that like to spoil the fun of the game.
The referees will slow this game down. Look for a score of 35 - 27, Celtics. Go ahead. Take that score to the bank.
So a slow, defensive, ugly, game, is what we are looking at? That sounds like the type of basketball that Boston likes to initiate. Coupled with the fact that they have played with each other for a couple of years will help annihilate the Heat on October 26th.
King Wade, Chris Bosh and LeBron will have growing pains getting used to each other. This has been stated ad nauseum. The flow of the game offensively will be a mess for them. What troubles me is their rotations to the bench. With the Celtics' depth, the game will get out of hand in the second quarter.
The only thing I hate more than NBA referees is the three-headed monster of Mike Breen, Jeff Van Gundy, and Mark Jackson. I remember there was a game last year wherein my ears literally started to bleed. The problem with them is they do little to no actual basketball analysis. Half the game is spent speaking on trivialities.
So here is my problem on this date. This will be the first time the Miami Heat will take the floor. So for the better part of an hour before the game, we will hear from these guys question on who will be introduced first, Wade or LeBron James. The answer is not the problem for me. Talk about it then move on. That is something the ESPN analysts just can't seem to do.
I'm gonna want that seat back.
The only thing Pat Riley enjoys more than pomade is coaching a winning team. He seems to get the itch to coach anytime he thinks he has good team that has a fighting chance to contend. It is a dynamite way to pad the old coaching stats. How can he turn away the opportunity to coach this Miami "Dream Team?" He can't.
It is a shame too because Pat Riley is renowned to over work his team. That will make practices mighty interesting in Miami.
This may be a bit much of a prediction, but hear me out. The Heat will have Zydrunas Ilgauskas at center. He really is figment of his former self. Howard will do what he wants with Ilgauskas in the paint. Did I mention my other prediction of 50 rebounds for Dwight Howard?
Well he will because the Heat's backup centers are Jamal Magloire and Joel Anthony. Both of which will at some point be forced to give Dwight Howard their lunch money. It will be a sad, sad sight.
Oh , Christmas day. I stay home and Kobe Bryant has to go to work. This is not a bold prediction, I just wanted to work in the guy that looks like Donald Sutherland that sits next to Jack. Has anyone noticed that when that guy shows up Donald Sutherland is nowhere to be seen? Scary coincidence? Perhaps.
This one you can count on being broken up before it gets ugly. So by fight, I don't mean MLB legitimate fight. I mean, NBA "Oh, man did you see Chris Bosh push Pau Gasol in the chest." I miss the good old days.
With Kobe Bryant telling his team to send a message, Ron Artest not being quite right inside the head, and Pau Gasol and Chris Bosh bumping in the middle, something will give.
The Heat will finally get things going by Christmas. They will figure out their assignments on defense. LeBron will know where his teammates will be on the floor. It will finally start to gel. Couple that with the fact, Los Angeles has a knack for losing big regular season games.
Then comes the dread of listening to Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson crown the Heat champions as early as December.
The Celtics and Magic now have a reason to lay it on the line every game this season. Granted, it will take a toll on their roster, especially for the aging Celtics. The thing I look to is the sense of pride I have witnessed in those two teams the past three seasons. Make no mistake, for the first two months of the season, Boston and Orlando will be looking to bury the Heat in the standings.
I can't wait.