THE NBA IS BACKKKKKKKKKKK. Wow, that was a long offseason. We had some things to distract us along the way, but there's nothing quite like real, actual, meaningful NBA basketball games. AFter a long way, we finally have those back and this time, we get the full 82 game schedule. There's no lockout to limit the season length, no more waiting until Christmas Day for tipoff, no more back-to-back-to-backs on the schedule. Just 82 games played by your Cleveland Cavaliers -- and it all starts tonight at Quicken Loans Arena.
Check out the Google+ hangout that I did with Mike Prada from Bullets Forever. We talk about the Cavs-Wiz game tonight and the two teams in general.
Who? Cleveland Cavaliers (0-0) vs. Washington Wizards (0-0)
When? 7:00 PM Eastern
Where? Quicken Loans Arena -- Cleveland, Ohio
Where on my eyeballs? Fox Sports Ohio
Why? WHY??? YOU HAVE TO ASK WHY? IT'S THE 2012-13 SEASON OPENER. DON'T YOU DARE ASK ME WHY.
I need a song to get me pumped for this game, can you help me?
I have absolutely no idea why you need a song to get you pumped for Opening Night, but here you go.
Get Up Offa That Thing -- James Brown
Alright, what's happening here?
This is a pretty standard case of an NBA season opening and people being incredibly excited about it. There's so much to look forward to in this game and in this season in general that it's hard to hit on everything. But I'll try.
First and foremost, I can't wait to see the new Cavaliers introduction video. It may seem minor, but those minute-long videos with ridiculous music and flames around people dunking are some of my favorite things in the world. A great intro video will go a long way making me damn near tears as this season is about to get underway.
Then, we've got our starting lineup. In case you missed it, you can read the full post here or I can just tell you it again:
Kyrie Irving at point guard
Dion Waiters at shooting guard
Alonzo Gee at small forward
Tristan Thompson at power forward
Anderson Varejao at center
Pretty much what you expected, right? The only thing that could have been different was C.J. Miles instead of Alonzo Gee. At the end of the day, Byron Scott decided that he liked Gee's athleticism and defense in the starting lineup. With Kyrie and Dion out there, it's better to save Miles for the second unit, a unit that will need some help scoring.
Have I mentioned how excited I am for Dion Waiters? He hasn't started a game since high school and you know that Byron Scott made him earn his spot in the starting lineup. Regardless of what you think of the guy, he got to college and never started a game while he was there. He worked his ass off to get drafted and then worked his ass off during training camp. I can only assume that today he's realizing one of his lifelong goals: to be a starter in an NBA game. Really happy for Tyler Zeller making his professional basketball debut as well. That's damn exciting.
All of that said, let's get to the actual basketball. At the time that I am writing this, we were still waiting for the doctors to clear Kyrie Irving to play. He had his wisdom teeth removed last Wednesday and has practiced with the team the past couple of days, so I fully expect him to be cleared. Kyrie had a spectacular, historic rookie season and he's just going to get better from here. I can't wait to see what he's going to do this year. Have I mentioned that he's just 20 years old?
So everybody's excited and talking about the backcourt of Waiters and Irving, right? But you can't forget about the front court as well. Long gone are the days of Ryan Hollins and Semih Erden starting games for the Cavaliers. Instead, Cleveland will trot out perhaps the most energetic frontline in the NBA with Varejao and Tristan. Throughout preseason we saw that defensive rebounding may be an issue, but offensive boards won't be. Andy and Tristan were among the league leaders in offensive rebounding rate last year, so I expect this team to dominate the offensive glass and get plenty of second chance opportunities. The Wizards are without their best big man, Nene, so this is an area that Cleveland should have a huge advantage.
Similarly, the Cavs should have a big advantage at the point guard positive as well. John Wall's patella stress injury robbed us of the Irving-Wall, Waiters-Beal matchup that we were craving, but now the Cavs should be able to feast on a shorthanded Wizards team. Irving dodges the ridiculous wingspan and freakish athleticism of Wall and instead will be defended by A.J. Price. At the other guard spot, we still get the battle of the first rounders. Bradley Beal was selected 3rd overall and Dion Waiters was selected right after that with the 4th overall pick. This isn't a game of one-on-one, but we'd be foolish to pretend that the two players won't be compared. I wholeheartedly hope that Waiters embarrasses Beal tonight.
Fear The Sword's Fearless Prediction:
We'll have more pregame analysis and preparation throughout the day, but right now I guess I'll give you a prediction. FTS's David Zavac is making the trip out to Cleveland for tonight's game and we're all eagerly awaiting the arrival of Cavs Zine 3. It's the season opener, what could be better? I'll tell you what could be better -- a Cavaliers win. And that's exactly what you're going to get tonight. Cavaliers take down the Wizards in the first game of the 2012-13 NBA season by a score of 98-90. Kyrie Irving scores 27 and Dion Waiters scores 16. Let's do this. Go Cavs.