It's here! It's here! Remember to join us at 7 pm eastern/6 central/5 mountain/4 pacific/3 Alaska/2 Hawaii/8 atlantic as I Open Source Live Blog the opening night games. Tonight's the night, this is the thread.
Yes, yes, I know that the season starts two days from now, and that there's a preseason game tonight (LA vs. Albuquerque), but because tomorrow is Thanksgiving (perhaps you were aware?), and because few people will be reading the internet tomorrow or possibly Friday (when everyone will be wearing black all day, from what I understand) I thought I'd get this opening night preview up this afternoon for your perusal. Don't worry, we will have an OSLB on Friday as I try to watch parts of all six games on Futurecast, and I'll try to catch any breaking news that might come up between now and then. Because of the holiday I thought I'd give this preview a Thanksgiving theme, but I never got farther than naming the games after various food items. Oh, and there might be some terrible puns thrown in as well. Enjoy!
Soup: Iowa Energy at Springfield Armor
For the first game we'll go with a starter. Something with butternut squash perhaps. The Armor didn't exactly impress in their preseason game the other day, and although Craig Austrie was a decent defender in college, the Energy simply have too many shooters to be able to shut down their perimeter game entirely. I'd say they also have the advantage down low, as Earl Barron should be able to shut down whatever the Springfield big men try to get going. Things aren't entirely bleak for the Armor, I suppose, as JamesOn Curry could get his shot going early and score a bunch, but overall the Armor's roster seems a bit rickety. But hey, pro basketball is back in Springfield, am I right?
The main course, sides and dessert after the jump.
Turkey: Erie BayHawks at Fort Wayne Mad Ants
These two teams are something of regional rivals but also recent trading partners, having swapped Alade Aminu and Rob Kurz during the draft. Point guard is probably the weakest position for each team, as Erie plays Donell Taylor out of position and Fort Wayne alternates Kyle MacAlarney and Andres Sandoval. The Mad Ants may still be without Chris Hunter, since although CJ Watson is expected to be back for the Warriors tonight I don't know what the timetable will be for waiving Hunter and him getting back to Indiana. Sean Sonderleiter and Anthony Kent each played decently when these two teams met in the preseason, but they picked up nine fouls between them and given their track records I'd expect similar troubles on Friday. These two teams have a lot of talent, though, with some guys who have played in the NBA (Taylor, Rob Kurz), some with pretty good college careers (Ryan Ayers, John Bryant), some with a track record of D-League success (Ivan Harris, Ron Howard) and some with a lot of raw talent (Aminu). Overall this should be a good main course for the evening.
Stuffing: Utah Flash at Tulsa 66ers
Even when it's not actually stuffed, I still call it stuffing instead of dressing. And no, calling this game the stuffing isn't a Garrett Siler weight joke. Although I suppose it could be. Anyway, I like Utah's roster a lot, and they have a stacked (or should I say stuffed? Again, not a Garrett Siler weight joke) frontcourt. Tulsa has a lot of forwards too, they just have a little less upside. Although, I suppose this is the official start to the Latavious Williams era, and it it's anything like the unofficial start we could be in for a treat. The Flash have some decent defenders up front, so perhaps they'll keep him in check, but it's exciting that we're having this conversation about a guy right out of high school, isn't it? There's also the chance that this game will get ugly, as both teams had problems distributing the ball in the preseason. I expect Dontell Jefferson to rebound from yesterday's performance, though, and without Kyle Weaver now, Tulsa's backcourt is a bit thin. Mustafa Shakur has played well in Europe, but he'll likely be guarded by Jefferson who can lock him down. I'm also intrigued to see how Byron Mullens looks. There's a lot to like about this game.
Roasted Chestnuts: Maine Red Claws at Sioux Falls Skyforce
I don't know about you, but I think the Skyforce have found a chestnut in Reggie Williams. Get it? Because he's good. If the preseason game against Dakota is any indication, in fact he'll be very good. He's a scorer, but even more than that he's an efficient scorer. I don't expect Will Blalock or Bill Walker to play as poorly for the Red Claws as they did in the preseason, but overall I just don't like that roster, and if Paul Harris and Noel Felix remain out with injuries, both Williams and Raymond Sykes could go nuts (unintentional) for Sioux Falls.
Sweet Potatoes: Rio Grande Valley Vipers at Austin Toros
These sweet potatoes don't have marshmallows on them, because that's gross. I'm actually not having sweet potatoes this year, just like I'm not going to the Toros game (so that I can watch the rest of them on Futurecast). That works as a parallel, right? Anyway, this is another pairing that's a repeat of the preseason, and to be honest I expect a similar result. I expect Curtis Jerrells and Dwyane Jones both to be a little better than they was in the last game, but other than that Alonzo Gee should play well again, as should Joey Dorsey. I'm still not what to make of Kurt Looby's bad game last weekend; it could be either a fluke or a sign that his game just doesn't fit Chris Finch's system. The other thing to watch will be the point guard play, with Jerrells and RGV's
Mike Harris Garrett Temple both being borderline-to-probable NBA players (though "sources" in the comments section tell me Jonathan Wallace will get the start at PG) and Vipers backup Kenny Dawkins having a good college career. Also keep your eye on Austin's Russell Carter, who was named all-Big East as a senior and who shot 7-9 in these teams' preseason matchup.
Who Cares What Kind of Pie: Bakersfield Jam at Albuquerque Thunderbirds
I gave this team the dessert not only because it's the last one of the night but also because I don't like pie and I have a feeling I won't like watching this game. Bakersfield's roster looks rough, particularly with Amara Sy out with an injury. Robert Swift could have an easier time since he's not going up against a player of Rod Benson's caliber (though I thought Erek Hansen was a good pick for the T-Birds), but other than that I'm not sure who's going to guard Carlos Powell, and while I don't expect the Jam to shoot quite as poorly as they did yesterday I'm not entirely sold on Reece Gaines or Lance Hurdle.
Things would obviously better if Sy came back to play, as he's been an efficient scorer in Europe, but he's not a great shooter either. (Sy was just released by the team due to injury, and they expect him back in about two weeks. Maybe their arena will even be completed by then.) But hey, Kevin Pittsnogle! That's something to get excited about, right? Right? Sigh. This one could get tough to watch.