Charlotte Bobcats at Dallas Mavericks Preview -- Game 1

The Big Picture: On the road, opening night for both teams, the Bobcats have to be pretty heavy underdogs to start the season, which is just as well, because I suspect we're going to define this season's narrative arc by pointing out how often the Cats were underestimated. If the Cats mount another playoff run, they will have been underestimated. If they stink and end up with 22 wins, it'll be at least February before we realize something is amiss and they aren't being underestimated.

Raymond Felton gone? You underestimate D.J. Augustin's laser-accurate three point shooting. Stephen Jackson's already tweaked his ankle? You underestimate how Gerald Wallace can pick him up, carry him down the floor both ways, and place him wherever he needs to be before going to his own position. Boris Diaw is starting instead of Tyrus Thomas? You underestimate the whiplash opponents suffer from dealing with Monsieur Nonchalant followed by Tyrus Tornado. Underestimation will give us seven wins. That's not speculation; that's math.

On paper, the Mavericks have the far better lineup. Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, and Brendan Haywood are all clearly superior to the players we have at PF, PG, and C, and neither Jason Terry nor Caron Butler nor Shawn Marion is chopped liver at the other positions. They run the risk of underestimating their opponents.

Musical Interlude: Muse -- "New Born"


Key to Victory: I feel like someone mentions this every time they play, but Jax did an amazing job harassing Dirk in the 2007 playoffs, and Tracy McGrady apparently did a good job guarding him back when T-Mac had knees. This game screams for TT to play starter's minutes and be himself on Dirk in the midrange and the post. If Dirk's settling for threes in order to pull him away from the rim, then so be it. Roll with that.

The second key is seeing what the Cats do with their point guard slot. At the end of preseason, they were running more offense with Jax and Diaw initiating the sets. If Augustin is better playing off the ball, it really shouldn't be that much of a chore to have him bring the ball up, pass it to someone else, and then get to work doing what he does.

Detail(s) That May Interest .08% of You: The San Francisco Giants have never won a World Series. They lost the 1962 Series when Willie McCovey hit a screaming liner that would have driven in the winning runs had Bobby Richardson not speared it. They lost the 1989 Series after a devastating earthquake rendered sports secondary, but once we all returned to sports, had delayed Game 3 long enough that the A's could start their ace, Dave Stewart, again. And they lost the 2002 World Series, even though they were eight outs away from victory with a 5-0 lead in Game 6. All that's to say there will be more than a little flipping channels back and forth.

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