Happy NBA Opening Night!
Enjoy the few opening games tonight as you get pumped for the Pacers opener tomorrow night against the Washington Wizards. Here are a few items of interest regarding the opener:
- Let's get the bad news out of the way. Jermaine O'Neal and Troy Murphy are doubtful for the opener. Sounds like J.O. MAY be able to go but let's not count on it. This is a bit of a buzz kill after such a strong preseason. I'm hoping the Pacers can get off to a surprisingly good start, but beginning the year short-handed won't help. Courtney Sims was brought back to the roster for emergency front court help. And here I thought (hoped...prayed) the Pacers were just being cautious with J.O. to make sure he was primed and ready to go for the regular season. I can't take another season where the terms 'lingering injury' accompany every J.O. story.
- Don't forget Shawne Williams is suspended for the first three games, so his absence further diminishes the Pacers arsenal, which will make it tough to keep pace with the Wiz.
- If the Pacers have to play without J.O., the Wizards are probably as favorable a match up as they can have since they don't rely heavy production from their bigs. First one to 130 may win this game since the Pacers have shown they're going to get their shots and the Wizards will be the first to tell you that they struggle on defense. I'm sure defense has been emphasized throughout the preseason for the Wiz, still, this game will depend on the Pacers ability to knock down shots. They've been streaky at best and if they are knocking them down I can see opening W in the P's future. If not, trouble, because Gilbert Arenas and the rest of the Wiz will get theirs.
- The Wizards are a team that expects to make the playoffs, but with the way the Eastern Conference is shaping up, they could be looking at that 6-8 seed, at best. If the Pacers want to nudge their way into the playoffs, the will probably need to beat out the Wiz. This should be a nice early indication of where the Pacers fit in the East. Again, it would be nice to have J.O, but there are no excuses on opening night.
- Check out Bullets Forever to get the latest news on the Wizards leading up to the opening tip tomorrow night.
Here are the projected starters assuming the Jermaine O'Neal and Troy Murphy will miss the game. I'm sure J.O. is going to do everything in his power to give it a go. Sounds like he's much closer to playing than Murphy.
|Jermaine O'Neal*||F||Antawn Jamison|
|Danny Granger||F||Caron Butler|
|Jeff Foster||C||Brendan Haywood|
|Mike Dunleavy||G||Gilbert Arenas|
|Jamaal Tinsley||G||DeShawn Stevenson|
Here are a few other items to ponder:
- There's reason for hope after checking out some analysis of preseason records here (insider) and here. Looks like the preseason isn't exactly meaningless for poorly rated looking to have a good season. Hey, the Pacers resemble that remark. (hat tip: TrueHoop)
- Bruno's latest Caught in the Web takes a look at the task at hand for the Pacers if they want to make the playoffs.
- Check out this preview from We Rite Goode which I contributed to after a few preseason games raised my spirits.
- Larry Joe Legend expresses his optimism on the eve of the opener.
- Here's some more optimism from the Pacers. They sound convinced that they're not going to be as bad as people think. Hey, you gotta start somewhere.