Looking for reason to stay in on Friday night? Well… it’s the start of the first weekend of the NBA season, you probably have a free preview of NBA League Pass (it’s the only Friday where this is the case) and the Association’s got a solid 12-game slate to take you from quittin’ time deep into the night.
If you’re thinking of making a date with the big screen and the couch tonight, here’s a quick case for tuning in to each of Friday’s games:
Sacramento at New Jersey (7:00 PM): A TON of young talent on the floor. Brook Lopez, Devin Harris, Terrence Williams and #3 over pick Derrick Favors, who was solid and efficient in his debut, take take the floor for the Nets. Meanwhile, after a one-game suspension, this will be the 2010-11 debut of the reigning Rookie of the Year and future superstar Tyreke Evans. He’s joined by rookie stud DeMarcus Cousins, Carl Landry, Jason Thompson and Omri Casspi. Easy to overlook this game, but there are some players here!
Plus, how many more times in your life will you get to watch the undefeated Kings visit the undefeated Nets?
Atlanta at Philadelphia (7:00 PM): The Hawks looked fantastic on offense in their opener against the Grizzlies, shooting 52.5% from the floor and putting up 119 points. See if they continue to make me look silly. As for the Sixers, after hearing some murmurs that he may flounder as a pro, #2 overall pick Evan Turner played extremely hard, especially on D, against the Miami Heat Wednesday and put up a 16- 7- 4, made seven of his ten shots and even blocked a shot. He plays well at both ends and is really fun to watch.
Cleveland at Toronto (7:00 PM): We’ve got to get behind the jilted lovers, err, Cavs! They shoot for a 2-0 post-LeBron start. If basketball fans don’t support JJ Hickson and Ramon Sessions, the terrorists have won! Plus, Toronto’s got a beautiful home floor (especially in HD!) and a great home crowd. Their roster/ Not so much.
Indiana at Charlotte (7:00 PM): Yikes! This is a tough one. Frankly, you could probably skip this one, but if you want a reason to watch, the Pacers’ talented trio of Danny Granger, Darren Collison (a future star at PG) and Roy Hibbert (quietly becoming one of the NBA’s better centers) should keep your attention.
New York at Boston (7:30 PM): After a long, hard winter, the Knicks have finally got a team that even casual fans can enjoy rooting for. They’ve got a stud big man, a good-to-very-good PG and a weapon on the outside (Danilo Gallinari). Plus, it’s always fun to watch Celtics’ home games, especially against teams from rival cities (NY, LA, Philly), and Rajon Rondo has made the leap into not only the NBA’s top tier, but to “must watch” status.
Denver at New Orleans (8:00 PM): Hey, it’s the first “Get Me The Hell Outta Here” Bowl of 2010-11!
Seriously though, whatever the circumstances surrounding the superstars in this game, Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony are two of the NBA’s ten best players, they always deliver the goods and are a hell of a lot of fun to watch. Like with LeBron, sometimes the off-the-court stuff obscures players’ on-court brilliance. Don’t fall victim. Watch these guys- they’re consistently incredible.
Oklahoma City at Detroit (8:00 PM): Remember what I just told you about Chris Paul and Carmelo Anthony? It’s no less the case with Kevin Durant. He’s good for 30+ a night, can score in every way imaginable and never looks uncomfortable on the floor. He’s another once-a-generation guy. Even against an absurdly sad team like the Pistons, he’s worth the time you’ll spend watching him. Plus, if you’re not too familiar with the work of Russell Westbrook, the PG on KD’s Thunder, he is a rising star and as much fun to watch as just about anyone player in the NBA.
Orlando at Miami (8:00 PM): ESPN’s early nation TV game. No need to have League Pass for this one.
What a winner this one is! The Superfriends return from a 1-1 road trip to make their long-awaited home debut (even on TV, that arena will be electric!) against their in-state rival- a fellow championship hopeful with whom they’ve traded plenty of choice words over the summer. Plus, based on what we’ve seen from Miami’s big men early on, you don’t think Dwight Howard would like to send a 50-points, 20-rebound message?
If you’re not jacked about this matchup, I’m not sure what compelled you to read this far down in the first place.
Milwaukee at Minnesota (8:00 PM): As someone who married into a Midwestern family, I have come to learn about the Minnesota-Wisconsin rivalry. Sure, it’s usually on a football field, but there’s always room for expansion.
In addition to seeing one of the few strong Target Center crowds of the season, this game will feature some young talent: Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings for the Bucks, and Michael Beasley and Kevin Love for the Wolves. Plus, this may be the game where Love punches Kurt Rambis for only playing him 20 minutes per game! Seriously, Rambis doesn't get a “respect for the game” technical foul for shackling Love?
Eh, my heart’s not even in it. Skip this one, watch Heat-Magic, check in on Durant and if you’re up to it, monitor this game for potential historical achievements.
Memphis at Dallas (8:30 PM): The only compelling reason to watch this game is a fairly simple one: there will be a lot of really good players on the floor in Big D. It’s generally worthwhile to watch a game that features one team with a pair of future Hall-of-Famers (Dirk and J-Kidd, who had an awesome 18 assists in the opener!) and three former All-Stars (Caron Butler, Shawn Marion and Jason Terry) against another with a skilled 20-10 lock (Zach Randolph), a super-athletic 20 ppg guy (Rudy Gay), a future star in the backcourt (O.J. Mayo) and one of the best (and still a bit unheralded) centers in the NBA (Marc Gasol).
LA Clippers at Golden State (10:30 PM): This one’s easy. Any game involving Monta Ellis (AI Light?), Stephen Curry and David Lee is gonna be incredibly fun to watch, but throw Blake Griffin into the mix? Yikes! Anyone who saw the first quarter of Griffin’s NBA career will be JACKED for this!
LA Lakers at Phoenix (10:30 PM): The second half of ESPN’s Friday doubleheader is a rematch of last spring’s Western Conference Finals. One side we have the NBA’s most skilled big man (Pau Gasol), a rested Kobe Bryant (should get big minutes)- who incidentally is another “never miss this guy” player- and an exciting supporting cast (Lamar Odom, Shannon Brown and Matt Barnes, just to name three). On the other side there’s Steve Nash, the best pure PG of his generation, with a full complement of toys, both old (Jason Richardson, Grant Hill and Channing Frye) and new (Hedo Turkoglu, Hakim Warrick and Josh Childress). Throw in an always-raucous Phoenix crowd- especially jacked for a home-opener against the Lakers- and this will be one of the best games of the night. These games are always great!