This is a huge game. As big as the season opener. Against the Mavericks we had to see how our new pieces fit against the team that small-balled us out of the playoffs. The uselessness of Nazr and Rasho that series was a partial driving force (along with free agency and contract size) for the acquisition of Elson and (less so) Butler.
Now, with Houston, we have to see if we still have an answer for Yao Ming. Rasho, though not without a long list of shortcomings, always did a respectable job against Yao. Elson, while supposedly 7', is listed as 35 pounds lighter than Rasho, who's 40 pounds lighter than Yao. That's 75 pounds difference! That's almost half of me! Yao Ming has an extra 1/2 of Matthew Powell on Francisco Elson! Matthew Powells aren't everything, but you can't entirely discount 1/2 a Matthew Powell! Oberto is a weightier option, by 10 pounds, but he gives up 8 inches to Yao. That's 4/35ths of Matthew Powell! And in basketball terms, 4/35ths of Matthew Powell is a whole hell of a lot!
Yao Ming had picked up where he left off last year. He's averaging 27 and 10 on 59% shooting, and his underside-of-the-chin beard is just fucking off the charts. Houston is one of the few teams in the NBA with a legitimate shot at winning it all. SA, DAL, CLE, HOU, MIA, PHX (only if they avoid SA), LAC. That's the list. In order of likelihood. Nobody else has a shot.
I'm excited about this game. It's nice to have games this early that feel like they actually mean something. Unless McGrady ends up getting hurt before the playoffs. Then it don't mean sqizzuat.
Here are the lines for the contest:
SA @ Houston: Pick (neither team is favored; pick who you think will win)
Chicago @ Dallas: DAL -5.5
Remember, get your picks in by game time and choose one game only. Thoughts? Fake wagers? Under-the-chin beard grooming tips? Post away.