October 21 Games
SAS @ ORL: This will be a very different Spurs team from the one that played in Miami last night. More Parker, less Duncan, “last looks” at borderline roster decisions like Eddy Curry and Josh Powell.
Orlando is a mess. Jameer Nelson is worth owning because he’ll be on the floor a lot and may call his own number more often this year. Glen Davis is being drafted high — too high, according to our Jeff Nichols — because he’s the one big man guaranteed to score. At C, it looks like Nikola Vucevic may start and Gustavo Ayon will be the backup, but Josh McRoberts is getting a look. The backup PF might be rookie Andrew Nicholson, though his minutes could evaporate when Al Harrington is healthy.
PHI @ BOS: Obviously, the 76ers would prefer to have Andrew Bynum (knees) in their lineup. However, they have learned a lot without him, while rolling to a 4-1 record. One thing is, Spencer Hawes can be dominant with the second unit. Even if Bynum isn’t ready for opening night, that’s where Hawes will stay. Lavoy Allen, the eventual backup PF, would start at C temporarily. As predicted here the first time I saw his beefed-up frame, Thaddeus Young is now a starter. He’ll be rested today, with rookie Arnett Moultrie getting a look, but Thadd has had as good a preseason as anyone in the NBA. Oh, and Dorell Wright has been a great pickup. Able to start but willing to come off the bench, he adds firepower (along with Nick Young) to a deep rotation..
The final preseason game for the Celtics is a meaningless back-to-back against a divisional rival. They have nine days to practice and scrimmage before opening in Miami. Anything could happen today, and we shouldn’t take it too seriously.
DEN @ OKC: If the season began tomorrow — don’t you wish? — I think Kosta Koufos would start at C for Denver. He’s been better than Timofey Mozgov and they are too similar to use both. JaVale McGee will still get plenty of rebounds and blocks in a reserve role. Since we began these daily reports on September 10, we have been telling you to draft Nuggets early and often.
The Thunder will be ready when it counts; they have been without Kendrick Perkins all month and using some players who will be nailed to the bench except in blowouts.
SAC @ LAL: It’s like déjà vu all over again. The Kings just finished beating the Lakers in L.A., now the rematch is in Las Vegas. I’m most interested in James Johnson, who is on the verge of serious minutes at SF. The willingness of Marcus Thornton to come off the bench (and his suitability for that sixth-man role) gives coach Keith Smart some options. The versatile Tyreke Evans could start at SG, then shift to PG. That allows Johnson to provide energy and defense with the first team. They also have a PF battle, between incumbent Jason Thompson and rookie Thomas Robinson. It may stay in that order for a while, but the Kansas star (who can also play the 3) will prevail eventually.
The winless Lakers might add Dwight Howard to the rotation today. It’s supposedly the decision of trainer Gary Vitti, to be made after shootaround. Rookie C Robert Sacre has filled in well, and with Jordan Hill (back) still unavailable, Sacre has certainly made the team. How much the other veteran stars will play is up to them, and coach Mike Brown. One of these nights, they will put all the superstar pieces together. I predict it will be Wednesday against the Clippers.