Friday, October 03, 2008

2008 NBA Preseason Highlights

Alrighty, we are back and ready to roll for '08-09. Let's start with a look at the highlights of this year's preseason schedule, which tips off Sunday with Golden State at New Orleans and Detroit at Miami.

We've gotta say we're a little bummed about this year's October schedule as a whole. What we normally like to see in our season appetizers are some intriguing international matchups in Europe as well as tantalizing October sneak previews of eagerly anticipated new faces in new places, such as LeBron as a rookie or Jordan as a Wizard, to give us junkies a quick fix.

We'd have to say these three preseason games are the only ones which truly pique our interest:
    Oct 10: CSKA Moscow at Orlando
    Oct 11: Denver v Phoenix, Palm Springs, CA (10 ET, TNT)
    Oct 14: CSKA Moscow at Toronto
Notable events this October include the following:
- Euroleague American Tour: Three Euroleague teams, including defending champion CSKA Moscow, perennial contender FC Barcelona and Lietuvos Rytas visit North America for games against NBA teams.

- NBA Europe Live: Miami and New Jersey will play games in Paris and London, while the Hornets and the Wizards will match up in Berlin and Barcelona.

All in all, this year's NBA-Europe endeavours are a bit of a letdown. We think that these matchups are most compelling when NBA teams play Euroleague teams in Europe. First, because the games are much more likely to be competitive with half a world of home-court advantage. Second, because the atmospheres for these matchups are much better in Europe - with fans energized both to see NBA teams and to see if their team can pull off the upset - than in the U.S., where no one cares about a preseason game against a team they've never heard of.

We don't even have too much in the way of future NBA prospects on the Euroleague teams this year as many of the notable players are returning to the continent (J.C. Navarro, Vik Khryapa, for ex.). In that regard, don't forget that the most intriguing matchup of the month should be Lottomatica Roma v DKV Joventut in the Euroleague on Oct. 29, featuring two future lottery picks, point guards Ricky Rubio and Brandon Jennings (available online on ESPN360.com).

Still, matchups of Euroleague champion CSKA Moscow against Eastern contenders Orlando and Toronto should make for some decent NBA vs. Euroleague barometers.

And I suppose that the Heat-Nets games have a little bit of juice, just to get a glimpse of Beasley, as well as D-Wade back in electrifying form in an NBA uniform, but the Nets are horrible, so the matchup's not doing much for us overall, we must say.

- NBA China Games: Milwaukee and Golden State will play a pair of games, in Guangzhou and Beijing. Any conceivable luster on this matchup is irretrievably lost now that neither Baron nor Monta will be suited up to push the pace, and Chairman Yi won't be there for his homecoming, to boot, leaving Jumpin' Joe Alexander alone to rock the Mandarin.

- Nationally Televised Games: The outdoor matchup of the Suns and the Nuggets at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on TNT on Oct. 11 should be the highlight of the preseason. Should be a fun playground-style run, esp. with these two squads, assuming that Phoenix's old guys are still running in the post-D'Antoni era, of course....

Here's the big letdown of the preseason, though: where are the Blazers on the national TV schedule??? They are easily the team we are most eagerly anticipating in the early season, mainly because Oden is the player we're most eagerly anticipating, and Rudy is not too far behind on that list, not to mention Bayless should be fun to watch as well.

I know that we get a tasty Blazers-Lakers matchup on opening night, but couldn't we get a preseason bone? Maybe against OKC to revitalize the Oden-Durant rivalry? OK, an Oklahoma City-Portland preseason matchup might set new ratings lows... how about Blazers-Cavs, maybe? Something. Don't make me wait until October 28!

OK, here's a link to the complete preseason schedule, and below we've broken out the games which fit into one of our categories above. We'd assume that most of these games will be on NBA TV if they are not on ESPN/TNT.

Oct 9: Miami v New Jersey, Paris
Oct 10: CSKA Moscow at Orlando
Oct 11: Denver v Phoenix, Indian Wells Tennis Garden (10 ET, TNT)
Oct 12: Miami v New Jersey, London
Oct 14: CSKA Moscow at Toronto
Oct 14: New Orleans v Washington, Berlin
Oct 15: Milwaukee v Golden State, Guangzhou (ESPN)
Oct 17: New Orleans v Washington, Barcelona
Oct 18: Milwaukee v Golden State, Beijing (ESPN)
Oct 18: FC Barcelona at LA Lakers
Oct 19: FC Barcelona v Toronto/LA Clippers
Oct 21: Lietuvos Rytas at Golden State
Oct 23: Charlotte v LA Lakers, Ontario CA (TNT)
Oct 24: Washington at Cleveland (ESPN)
Oct 24: OKC at LA Lakers (ESPN)

Once again, the regular season tips off on Oct. 28 with a hell of a TNT doubleheader: Cavs-Celtics and Blazers-Lakers. Can't. Freaking. Wait.

25 days and counting. Let's tip this baby off.

P.S. I probably should have included Oklahoma City's first home game - on Oct. 14 vs. the Clips - as a notable Oct. game, but I'm a Seattle resident, so I couldn't bring myself to do it. I trust you understand.

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