Ball Don't Lie - NBA

We don't mean to act underwhelmed in the face of something that should leave us quite giddy, but it's a long season, and you have to pace yourself.

Tonight Skeets and I will be live blogging all three games, so stop by around 7 p.m. Eastern, and ready your comments. Deep breath. Long season. Chop wood, carry water.

Cleveland at Boston

This is a pretty rare scenario, because usually the defending champion gets to raise its banner and grab its ring before they play a young upstart, and not the team they defeated in a second round seven-gamer.

The NBA doesn't usually schedule patsies for this matchup, but dating back to the 1980s they've put a younger playoff-worthy squad on the other end of the floor. Think Portland playing the Spurs last year, or Chicago visiting Miami in 2007. Usually it's a spirited battle. And, dating back to the 1980s, sometimes the defending champ gets waxed. Cleveland is a step above the usual plucky upstart-type, so they'd have an advantage while building on the history, but Boston won't lay down either. This is going to be a game.

Every year I look forward to seeing a first-timer grab his first ring. A Jerome Kersey or Michael Finley-type. This year, we have the chance to see three of the finest players of our generation take that box from David Stern. That'll work.

Milwaukee at Chicago

Scott Skiles is back in Chicago, coaching the Bucks, and don't think that Bulls fans wouldn't love to see Tyrus Thomas run rings around Milwaukee while Malik Allen shoots 1-11 for the Bucks. Of course, given Skiles' luck, it will probably be Allen running rings around Thomas.

These two teams don't like each other right now, so we should get to see the rare early (early-early) season shoving match.

Portland at Los Angeles Lakers

I meant what I said about Greg Oden, and soon the rest of the league will mean it too. He just seems to lord over that paint on both ends, and even against a lengthy team like the Lakers, he could have his way. Those hands. Those arms, and that rear end.

This will be an early season test. We know Brandon Roy can carry the Blazers offensively, but can he pull back a little on that end, trust his teammates, and work to shut down a gimpy-but-still-Kobe Kobe Bryant?

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