The Hawks are coming off a terrific season that ended in disappointment in the playoffs, but should be a strong Eastern Conference contender again with guys like Al Horford, Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague, and Kyle Korver back. DeMarre Carroll left for Toronto, and replacing him as well as reprising the fantastic team ball they played last year will be key.
The Pistons are looking to get back to the playoffs under Stan Van Gundy. There have been changes, as they traded mid-season for Reggie Jackson, who will take the reins at point guard, added shooting forward Ersan Ilyasova, and saw Greg Monroe depart in free agency among other changes. They should be a somewhat more athletic bunch, with wings Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and rookie Stanley Johnson flanking Jackson, but will still have the big man Andre Drummond patrolling hte paint.
Cavs at Bulls
7:00 pm CDT
The first half of TNT's opening night double header features two of the stronger teams in the East. The Cavs are widely expected to own the conference this season, and that certainly wouldn't surprise after they advanced to the Finals in LeBron James' first year back in Cleveland. Is anyone else a little worried though that LeBron has already had a shot for back trouble, and is expected to be monitored heavily minutes wise this season?
The Bulls will likely look very different on the court this year, as they fired Tom Thibodeau and replaced him with Fred Hoiberg. Hoiberg will almost certainly have the Bulls playing at a faster pace and likely taking more three pointers. To that end, it appears he is going to start Nikola Mirotic and Pau Gasol up front, bringing Joakim Noah off the bench. Derrick Rose's health is always a question, but he's expected to play after recovering from surgery to his orbital bone earlier in training camp.
The defending champions open their season at home against the odds on favorite to win this year's MVP award, Anthony Davis.
Not much has to be said about the Warriors; they return much of the same cast as last season with the exception of David Lee, now in Boston. But their core remains intact, and relatively young, and there is no reason why they can't seriously contend for another championship.
The Pels reached the playoffs for the first time in Davis' career last season, bowing out to the Warriors in the first round. While I'm not sure they have enough talent to get into the upper echelons of the brutal Western Conference, Davis himself is worth the price of admission. The do-everything big man will be even more fearsome defensively this season under new coach Alvin Gentry, and has now apparently extended his range out beyond the three point line. Shudder.
The NBA is back, thank the gods, and we should all enjoy the games. And chat about them here.