NBA opening night preview and predictions

By Matt Formica

Three different games mark the beginning of the 2012-13 NBA regular season Tuesday night.
Hoopsvibe’s quick call:  After an interesting offseason, let the games begin.

Opening night of the NBA features two Eastern Conference matchups and one out of the West.  And as much as every NBA fan is excited for the new season to begin, injuries are unfortunately a consistent theme on Tuesday.  Here’s Hoopsvibe’s Tuesday Night Preview:
The Washington Wizards @ The Cleveland Cavaliers
Both the Cavaliers and Wizards struggled last season; the Cavs finished with a 21-45 record and the only team to finish worse than they did in that division were the Wizards, who ended the season 20-46.  Both teams are currently built on two young, star point guards, with Kyrie Irving in Cleveland and John Wall in Washington.  Wall is unfortunately still rehabbing from a knee injury and will not play Tuesday night; he is supposed to be sidelined for another month.  Kyrie Irving, however, will play for the Cavaliers even though he is still recovering after having his wisdom teeth removed a few days ago.
Wall isn’t the only impact player the Wizards will be without due to injury Tuesday night.  Nene, who was acquired last season in a three way trade that sent Javale McGee to Denver, is suffering from plantar fasciitis and the timing of his return is uncertain.  This definitely won’t help Washington, who won two out of the three games they played against Cleveland last season.  The Cavs have not been very good since Lebron left, posting a dismal 40-108 record since James took his talents to South Beach.
Hoopsvibe’s game prediction:  Kyrie Irving is too tough to stop without Wall and Nene in the lineup and the Cavs win their season opener.
The Boston Celtics @ The Miami Heat
In my opinion, this is Tuesday’s game of the night.  While both sides understand that it’s only the first game of the season and there will be 81 games played after it, there is no arguing the deep history between these two teams.  Tomorrow night’s game will be the first time the two teams meet since the Heat beat the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals last season in seven games.  It also marks the first time we see Ray Allen in a Heat jersey playing against his former Celtics squad.  And lastly, it’s also the night that the Miami Heat will get their championship rings.  Needless to say, it’s quite a unique dynamic for a season opener.
Aside from acquiring Allen and forward Rashard Lewis, the Heat kept their championship team intact.  And other than trading Allen to Miami, Boston also kept their core players (Rondo, Garnett and Pierce), while adding veteran Jason Terry from Dallas, who they hope will give them sparks off the bench.  Boston won three out of the four games against Miami in last year’s regular season before losing to the eventual champs in a best of seven series in the playoffs.
Both sides are downplaying the significance of Tuesday’s matchup.  "It’s just another basketball game," Celtics point guard, Rajon Rondo, said.  Heat star Lebron James articulated a similar sentiment saying, "Game one doesn’t determine the better team.  I mean, it’s game one.  Tomorrow night will not be what we want to be in April."

Hoopsvibe’s game prediction:  Regardless of what both sides are telling the media, I think we’re in for a passionate season opener between Boston and Miami tomorrow.  As much as I think either team can win and this is a tough game to call, I think the Heat will end up victorious on ring night.
The Dallas Mavericks @ The Los Angeles Lakers
The only Western Conference game on opening night has the Mavs paying a visit to the Lakers in Los Angeles.  It should make for an interesting and rather unpredictable game as both sides are dealing with injuries to their respective star player.  Dallas’ Dirk Nowitzki will not be in the lineup tomorrow night because he is still recovering from knee surgery.  Kobe Bryant’s status is questionable for Tuesday, as he is dealing with a foot injury.
The Lakers do welcome two All-Stars, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, who were acquired by Los Angeles this offseason and will be playing in their first regular season games with the team on Tuesday.  Howard has been recovering from a back injury all summer and his return was questionable until recently when the team announced that he will start in their home opener.
The Mavericks have a drastically different team this season than last.  They traded Jason "Jet" Terry to the Celtics and added Chris Kaman, Elton Brand, O.J. Mayo, Darren Collison, Dahntay Jones and Eddy Curry.  They also announced Monday that they decided to waive guard Delonte West after he was suspended twice in recent weeks for conduct detrimental to the team.
The Lakers won all four regular season games against the Mavericks last season.
Hoopsvibe’s game prediction:  Even if Kobe doesn’t play, the Lakers should beat Dallas easily Tuesday night, as the Mavericks will have trouble finding chemistry with a slew of new players and Dirk sidelined with an injury.


But what do you think, Hoopsvibers?  Who will be victorious on Tuesday?  Leave your comments below!
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Image source:  AP Images