Six Pack: Top 6 Games on the 2012-13 NBA Schedule
HOOPSWORLD’s Senior NBA Analyst Tommy Beer takes you through his most recent musings on the National Basketball Association in this latest installment of the NBA Six Pack…
This week we take a look at the most enticing match-ups of the 2012-2013 NBA season.
1. October 30, 2012: Boston Celtics at Miami HEAT:
The NBA season starts off with a bang, and likely with more than a few hard screens courtesy of Celtics forward Kevin Garnett.
Plenty of interesting storylines to get excited about in this one… First, it’s a rematch of the 2012 NBA Eastern Conference Finals, a hard-fought series that went the maximum seven games. In fact, these two teams have knocked each other out of the playoffs in three consecutive postseasons. In addition, Ray Allen has traded in green shamrocks for Miami’s red and white uniforms. This will be the first time Ray Ray squares off against KG and Paul Pierce – the triumvirate who united in 2007 to return honor and another championship to Boston. As a free agent, Allen took less money to sign with Miami. It was a huge coup by team president Pat Riley and the HEAT, as Allen is an absolutely perfect fit as a spot-up specialist. Miami is at its best when they are able to spread the floor by flanking LeBron (the league’s ultimate playmaker) with shot-makers on the perimeter. In Allen, Miami gets arguably one of the greatest shooters the league has ever seen. As difficult as Miami was to slow down last season, they will be that much more difficult to defend in 2012-13. That said, don’t expect grizzled vets KG and Paul Pierce (as well as Rajon Rondo, who purportedly didn’t get along with Allen) to do everything in their power to spoil Ray’s Miami debut and prove that Boston’s window of opportunity hasn’t yet closed.
2. November 1, 2012: New York Knicks at Brooklyn Nets:
During his introductory press conference, new Net Joe Johnson was asked who he thought was New York’s top team. His answer: “The Nets, definitely the Nets.”
When Knicks center, and reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Tyson Chandler heard about Johnson’s declaration, he sounded a little defensive. “They are trying to make a beef or whatever that’s not there, to be honest with you,” Chandler said. “It’s easy to talk in the summertime, but well see how things go when the season starts. I’ve heard a little bit, but I think it’s foolish, the Nets are just coming together. I think it’s pointless for them to talk to us about anything. First, they need to establish themselves.”
During that same aforementioned presser, Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz chimed in with this: “For nearly 40 years the Manhattan Knicks have shown they can’t bring the championship home to New York, so it’s going to take the Brooklyn Nets to get the job done. So move over Manhattan – enough airballs. You had your chance. Besides when it comes down to it, we all know the Brooklyn Nets will shut down the Manhattan Knicks when they play for the first time.”
So, yes, the groundwork has already been laid for what could be a burgeoning rivalry. In years past, Knicks fans have always vocally overpowered Nets supporters, even at Nets “home” games in New Jersey. Will it be different now that the Nets are in Brooklyn? This much we do know: In the weeks and days leading up to the opener, we’ll likely get a few more interesting and incendiary sound bites.
3. December 17, 2012: Houston Rockets at New York Knicks
Jeremy Lin makes his first return to the city which was transfixed by Linsanity back in February.
I’ve been outspoken on this topic since the Knicks foolishly let Lin walk without receiving anything in return. Surprisingly, there was a bit of a backlash from some New Yorkers against Lin as he headed off to Houston. It was likely the result of what amounted to a smear campaign, attempting to essentially paint Lin as a greedy, selfish diva. It will definitely be interesting to see/hear what kind of reaction Lin receives from the partisan MSG crowd when he is introduced as a member of the Rockets.
4. December 25, 2012: Oklahoma City Thunder at Miami HEAT:
Let your in-laws know now that Christmas dinner needs to be completed before, or begun after, this NBA Finals rematch takes place.
The Thunder entered the 2012 NBA Finals as the prohibitive favorites, and then confidently captured Game 1. However, the HEAT dominated the rest of the series, closing it out on their home floor in five. With the Thunder’s young guns a year older and more experienced, they’ll be thirsty for revenge. We know both teams will have this date circled on their calendar.
5. January 17, 2013: Miami HEAT at Los Angeles Lakers:
If Miami, as expected, once again advances out of the EAST, will they may have to lock horns with the revamped and reenergized Lakers. Many pundits have pointed out that the HEAT biggest weakness is at the center and PG positions; well, with Bynum down low and now Steve Nash running the show for the Lakers, L.A. could present plenty of problems for Miami.
6. January 30th: Los Angeles Lakers @ Phoenix Suns:
Nash has been the face of the Suns franchise since he signed with Phoenix as a free agent back in the summer of 2004. His legendary run as a Sun included back-to-back MVP awards and six all-star game appearances. A true fan-favorite in the Valley of the Sun, Nash will now be wearing the hated purple and gold of the L.A. Lakers. However, its safe to assume most Phoenix fans will give Nash a hero’s welcome upon his return.
* October 31, 2012 — San Antonio Spurs at New Orleans Hornets: Number one picks collide as Anthony Davis makes his pro debut against, and faces one of the greatest big men in the history of the league – Tim Duncan. In addition, guard Eric Gordon will play in front of the home fans in NOLA for the first time since he asked the Hornets not to match his offer sheet and stated: “My heart is in Phoenix.” How will the fans welcome him back?
* November 2, 2012 — Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers: The Battle of L.A. resumes. This year, as an added bonus, it features a phenomenal point guard showdown between Steve Nash and Chris Paul.
* November 9, 2012 — Charlotte Bobcats at New Orleans Hornets: Former college teammates Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Davis square off. Also, Charlotte might have a chance to eclipse their 2011-2012 win total by this second week of the season.
* 3. December 12, 20112 — Orlando Magic at Magic Lakers: Big “if” here, but assuming Dwight Howard is healthy enough to suit up, this game may feature one of two scenarios: Either D12 playing against the Magic for the first time as a member of the Lakers (with Bynum possibly in a Magic uniform); Or could this be a showcase game where Dwight put his talents on display for Lakers GM Mitch Kupchak and the L.A. organization? As with all things Howard-related, there is no way of know how the “Dwightmare” will eventually play out.
* December 25, 2012 — New York Knicks at Los Angeles Lakers: Last time these two teams played, Jeremy Lin poured in 38 points and dished out 14 assists in a Knickerbocker victory – who will step up for NY this year?
* January 27, 2013 – Miami HEAT at Boston Celtics: From Jesus Shuttlesworth to Judas. Welcome back to Beantown Ray Allen.
* February 7, 2013– Los Angeles Lakers at Boston Celtics: How many trips back to Boston does Kobe have left in his career?
* February 10, 2013 — Los Angeles Lakers at Miami HEAT: Is this the one and only trip Kobe and company take to South Beach, or just the first – with the rest coming in late June?
* February, 14, 2013 — Miami HEAT at Oklahoma City Thunder: The last Miami loss took place in OKC in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. One four-game winning streak later, the King was finally crowned.
* March 5, 2013 — Los Angeles Lakers at Oklahoma City Thunder: A possible preview of the Western Conference Finals?
* March 13, 2013 — New York Knicks at Denver Nuggets: Amazingly, this will be Carmelo’s first return trip back to Denver, the only other team he’d ever played for. Had this reunion happened closer to the trade, Denver fans would have likely been merciless in their booing. Now, with over two years since the “Melodrama” has subsided, I assume the reaction will be slightly subdued.
* March 20, Miami HEAT at Cleveland Cavaliers: LeBron returns to Cleveland once again; but this time he has a ring on his finger. I’m sure he’d love to show it to Dan Gilbert.
* Date TBD, location TBD: Howard’s first game against the Magic – extra added interest if/when he travels back to Orlando for the first time after he is shipped out of town.