UTA @ NOH: The sternest test yet for exciting rookie Anthony Davis will be the Jazz PF tandem of Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors. The Eric Gordon fiasco has forced the Hornets to use a not-ready-for-prime-time Austin Rivers as their starting SG; the rookie may have his hands full with Gordon Hayward. It’s also hard to imagine Robin Lopez getting the better of Al Jefferson. Even backup C Jason Smith, who may eventually be in a time-share with Lopez, gets a tough opponent in Enes Kanter. Only at PG, where both Mo Williams and Greivis Vasquez are fantasy sleepers, do these teams seem evenly matched.
MIA @ NYK: This will be fast-paced smallball, except for Tyson Chandler, whose matchup with Chris Bosh will be interesting at both ends of the floor. The Knicks will probably start Jason Kidd at SG, Ronnie Brewer at SF and Carmelo Anthony at PF. Whether they can handle Dwayne Wade and LeBron James is the question. One answer is, it doesn’t matter, because Ray Allen is the Heat’s not-so-secret weapon off the bench. Not having Amare Stoudemire, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert weakens New York’s second unit too. Rookie PF Chris Copeland and 35-year-old rookie PG Pablo Prigioni may have to play big minutes.
POR @ OKC: Though it didn’t happen in San Antonio last night, Mr. Durant and Mr. Westbrook will want to show the world they don’t need Mr. Harden. That could be bad news for the Blazers, who are gunning for another huge upset after toppling the Lakers. Rookie-of-the-year candidate Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge are the main men in Portland, with Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum productive wing players. Depth is their biggest problem, so maybe Kev-Mart will have a big night vs. the likes of Sasha Pavlovic.
SAC @ MIN: Everyone’s favorite opponent comes to the Twin Cities. DeMarcus Cousins has an edge in athleticism over Nikola Pekovic and we’ll have to see whether Brandon Roy can still keep up with Tyreke Evans. Another Wolves newcomer is Andrei Kirilenko, one of three players attempting to fill the large PF void left by Kevin Love’s hand injury. Dante Cunningham and sophomore Derrick Williams are the others who will see more minutes for the next month. For the Kings, we’re watching incumbent Jason Thompson trying to hold off rookie Thomas Robinson at PF, and expecting a change soon at SF, where James Johnson still doesn’t understand that he can do everything but shoot.
DET @ PHO: Given how much the Suns need Michael Beasley to be a star, and how terrible he looked on Wednesday, this could be a long season in the desert. Luis Scola had a fine first game and matches up well against Jason Maxiell. Two excellent centers, Marcin Gortat and Greg Monroe, may cancel each other out. For the Pistons to win, Rodney Stuckey needs to hit a few threes; he went 0-3 from deep and 1-10 overall in the opener.
MEM @ GSW: One game at a time for Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut to regain their confidence on oft-damaged limbs, then their timing. Bogut won’t play in back-to-backs for a while and may be on about a 24-minute limit tonight. Rookie Harrison Barnes “won” the starting SF job only to get a quick hook. Carl Landry had a great second half that may have earned him more minutes. The Grizzlies lost to the Clippers in their opener and will be fired up to even their record.
LAC @ LAL: It doesn’t get any easier for the winless Lakers. With Kobe Bryant (foot) at less than 100% and Steve Nash (shin) questionable, their lack of depth will be exposed again. Chris Paul should have a field day against Steve Blake and/or Chris Duhon. Look for Jamal Crawford to keep shooting while he’s hot, or even if he goes cold. This should be a great game to watch live; sadly, it’s past the bedtime of the geezer who gets up early every morning to bring you this column.