The NBA finally gets going today. After a lockout that went on and on and led to the verge of canceling the season, they get started on their 66-game trek to the playoffs.
Set your TV to flip from TNT to ABC to ESPN today. Some great matchups today to tip off the season so let’s get to picking them.
The Celtics are banged up, having lost Jeff Greene due to a heart ailment and Paul Pierce to a bad heel that makes him a game-time decision for this one. The Knicks picked up Tyson Chandler to have a guy to guard the rim.
I think the loss of Chauncey Billups hurts the Knicks as they don’t have a proven point guard to get the ball to Carmelo and Amar’e. The Celtics bench is the weakest it’s been in years. This game is going to go to the wire but I’ll take Carmelo and Amar’e to make plays over KG and Ray Allen in the Garden.
THE PICK: Knicks 91-88
These teams ended the season with a six-game series in the NBA Finals won by the Mavs. Now the Heat must watch the Mavs hang their banner today and I think that’ll motivate the Heat in this one.
The loss of Tyson Chandler will really hamper the Mavs defense, but their offense with Lamar Odom should be better. LeBron is going to have a huge game and won’t allow his team to lose another game to the Mavs.
THE PICK: Heat 98-92
Kobe’s hurt and Andrew Bynum is suspended so that’s not a good combination for the Lakers to open the year when every game is a premium in this shortened season. Derrick Rose has another spot-up shooter in Richard Hamilton and I think the Bulls are a title contender.
The Lakers will miss Lamar Odom today as he could help take some pressure off of Kobe. Instead, the Lakers have to go against a great defensive team in the Bulls and hope Ron Artest and Steve Blake can step up and make big plays for them.
The Bulls make an opening day statement in the Staples Center.
THE PICK: Bulls 94-87
Has Orlando recovered from the Dwight Howard trade rumors to focus on the season? I don’t expect any less effort out of Howard but is the team dynamic thrown off? The Thunder have high expectations for this season and will push the pace against the Magic.
I think Kevin Durant and company will get cruise in this one.
THE PICK: Thunder 104-94
The Clippers made the big move of the offseason acquiring Chris Paul, but picking up Caron Butler is also a great move. This is the strongest Clippers team in at least 20 years.
The Warriors hired Mark Jackson who hopes to get them to play tougher on the defensive end. This is a good test for both teams. This should be the highest-scoring game of the day as both can run up and down the court.
I think Blake Griffin and Chris Paul hook up for a few spectacular plays and get the season off to a good start.
THE PICK: Clippers 113-107