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First Cup: Wednesday

  • Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe: "The principals on both sides understand that this was only the beginning of a very long journey. By the next time they meet, in 121 days, we will have gone through Thanksgiving, Christmas, Elvis’s Birthday, the Super Bowl, and the Washington’s Birthday automobile sales. The Cavs will be a little more familiar with themselves by then. As for the Celtics ... 'Before the game, we said it was a big game,’ said Doc Rivers. 'Now that it’s over, I can say it’s just one of 82.' But it’s in the books as a win, and a very satisfying one, for the Celtics."

  • Brian Windhorst of The Plain Dealer: "Shaquille O'Neal was not good. Let's just get that out of the way. He was pretty much shut down by the Celtics in the fourth quarter, which is why he was brought here. Not being able to get two points when he got the ball in position was hurtful in this game. Also, he was slow to rotate on defense, which is not a surprise of course, but it did hurt the Cavs quite a few times. It is not a big deal overall, but Shaq was brought here for games like tonight and no matter how it is judged, he's 0-for-1 in being the difference maker in a big game. Now, let's get something else said that needs to be. The Cavs missed Delonte West. Not having him out there to start the second quarter hurt the defense and the Celtics attacked Daniel Gibson. Ray Allen really took it to him in the first half. Anthony Parker did an excellent job on Allen down the stretch and Allen went just 1-of-8 in the second half. Gibson played just three minutes in the second half. Now that I've said that, defense was the only thing Parker did in the second half and Jamario Moon wasn't there at all. Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels had 19 points combined; Shaq, Moon and Parker had 22. Advantage Celtics in the new man department."

  • Ramona Shelburne of the Los Angeles Daily News: "Clippers president Andy Roeser was walking quietly through the halls of Staples Center before Tuesday night's season opener against the Lakers. In case you were wondering, his chin was up and there were no visible signs of distress. On Monday, the team's prized rookie, Blake Griffin, was diagnosed with a non-displaced stress fracture on his left kneecap that will cause him to miss approximately six weeks. Clipper Curse? Actually, from the sorrowful tones people used in expressing their sympathy it was more like Clipper hearse? Not that they wanted to hear about it. 'There is no curse,' Roeser said. 'We don't sit around and talk about it that way at all. I'm sure it's great for selling papers, but it has nothing to do with reality. The reality is this is a player who banged his knee on accident and then aggravated it on Friday. But we feel we're good enough to sustain it. We're going to be the most improved team in the league. Go to Vegas and bet it. I'm actually more optimistic about this team than I have been about any team in a long time. ... And no, I'm not superstitious.' "

  • Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald: "Will Michael Beasley, starting at his natural power forward position, become the All-Star-caliber player the Heat expects? The Heat needs to make it work with Beasley because his maturity issues and previous strikes in the NBA drug program would make it difficult to get equal trade value, one longtime scout said Tuesday. Coach Erik Spoelstra said last month that Udonis Haslem would start, but he changed his mind. 'They tried Beasley at small forward and felt they weren't as good,' the scout said. 'If he started at small forward, he would not be able to handle the Danny Granger types. They would do a number on him. Even now, his size could hurt him with long, tall power forwards. You look at [Clippers injured rookie] Blake Griffin and say he is going to be a star. You don't say that for sure with Beasley, but he still could be a heck of a player.' Another scout who evaluated him this month said, 'Defensively, you can see better effort. He looks more comfortable shooting off the dribble.' "

  • Howard Beck of The New York Times: "Because of the N.B.A.’s salary-cap rules, the Knicks cannot outspend any other team to land a superstar. In fact, James and Wade can make millions more by staying put. D’Antoni is tremendously popular among N.B.A. stars, but his charm and his wide-open offense will get the Knicks only so far on the recruiting trail. Ditto for the mystique of Madison Square Garden and the lure of Madison Avenue. So the Knicks may have to rely on another asset: their players. They need Danilo Gallinari, the sixth overall draft pick in 2008, to fulfill his promise as an offensive star. They need Wilson Chandler to gain confidence as a go-to scorer. They need David Lee to keep collecting rebounds by the dozen. At some point, the Knicks presumably have to show some progress and some promise, and the ability to help a superstar realize his championship ambitions. .... Can the Knicks make a compelling enough case? Will they be more attractive to Wade or James or Chris Bosh than the other half-dozen teams that are projected to have substantial cap room? Kenny Smith, who was part of two championship teams in Houston, is not convinced. He considered the Knicks’ roster and their coach, their arena and their city, and concluded simply, 'That list isn’t enough.' The Knicks have 82 games to prove otherwise."

  • Doug Smith of the Toronto Star: "You can't touch it or smell it or measure it in any quantifiable manner. It's an elusive concept that many talk about but no one can really clearly define. Yet it may be the one thing that determines whether the Raptors' season, which opens Wednesday night as they host the Cleveland Cavaliers, is a wild success or an unqualified failure. It is team chemistry, which can be getting disparate personalities not familiar with each other to mesh into a cohesive unit or asking some to accept lesser roles for the common good or simply respecting each other as people and co-workers. Maybe the best way to put it is that the elusive 'chemistry' means never having to say you're sorry."

  • Mike Monroe of the San Antonio Express-News: "For all the changes the Spurs made in the offseason -- the trades executed, the veteran free agents signed and the rookies drafted -- everyone in the organization understands a simple truth. To have a legitimate chance to win the franchise's fifth NBA championship, power forward Tim Duncan and shooting guard Manu Ginobili must be their All-Star-caliber selves if the Spurs are to maximize success with a roster that may be the deepest in franchise history. The long grind toward a postseason Spurs fans already anticipate eagerly begins tonight at the AT&T Center when the Spurs play the New Orleans Hornets."

  • Ronald Tillery of The Commercial-Appeal: "Michael Heisley's sanity and willingness to spend have been questioned a time or 10 in the near decade he's owned the Grizzlies. But don't doubt, he says, that he wants what all Griz fans want -- a winning team worth supporting. 'Contrary to what people believe, I hate to lose,' Heisley said. 'There isn't anything I find more painful than walking out of the arena after playing a crappy game and we've lost. And to have fans say, 'Don't worry, Mr. Heisley. Thanks for bringing the team here' ... That's nice. But I want to win.' Toward that goal, Heisley has seized control of the franchise like never before. As the Grizzlies open their ninth Memphis season tonight against the Detroit Pistons in FedExForum, the owner's stamp is on the team. Heisley hired the coach, Lionel Hollins. Heisley pushed to trade for power forward Zach Randolph. Heisley courted Allen Iverson to create the offseason's biggest buzz. His Grizzlies are going for NBA relevancy by adding two productive yet controversial veterans to a bunch of emerging youngsters. It's a risk, for sure. But Heisley will remind you that he's gambled and won before."

  • Jim Souhan of the Star Tribune: "So let's get to the point: It's going to be another long season. I asked the new coach, Kurt Rambis, how he would measure success this season, and he admitted that he'll focus on how hard his team plays, how well they play together ... at least, that's what I heard before I nodded off. I asked the star player, Al Jefferson, how he would measure success, and he said this team should win more game than last year's, maybe even 30 or more. That's the problem. We're about to watch a struggling franchise try to tread water in what is becoming a remarkably talented and intriguing league. It's not just going to be hard to watch the Wolves -- it's going to be hard to figure out how to watch the Wolves. Do you root for them to scrape together as many victories as possible, knowing that every win could hurt their chances in the lottery? Do you root for a horrific season that could help their draft status? Do you cheer for veterans who won't be around if the Wolves ever become relevant again, or accept the mistakes and regressions of younger players who could make a difference some day?"

  • Tom Enlund of the Journal Sentinel: "Coach Scott Skiles was asked Tuesday if he had any history of starting rookies, as he plans to do with point guard Brandon Jennings. 'I've started rookies before,' said Skiles. 'We started Ben Gordon in Chicago (in 2004) and we went 0-9. Then we brought him off the bench and he won sixth man of the year and should have won rookie of the year. He should have won both. So it can be hit or miss.' "

  • K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune: "WMVP-AM 1000 host Marc Silverman touched a nerve with Vinny Del Negro Tuesday morning when he tweaked the Bulls coach for not playing Derrick Rose at the end of games last season. Del Negro agreed Rose is the Bulls' best player but that 'statistically at the end of games last year, Derrick wasn't.' Silverman countered that getting Rose such experience could help the Bulls grow into title contenders. To which Del Negro responded: 'Well, I agree with that, but do you think we're ready to win a championship with all these young guys?' Asked to clarify that comment after practice, Del Negro obliged. 'To win titles, you have to build every day,' Del Negro said. 'We have a lot of work to do (to be) a championship team. In saying that, do we have the players to do it? I think we do. The growth of a team starts at the beginning, and you need to improve throughout the season to put yourself in those situations.' "

  • Drew Sharpe of the Detroit Free Press: "Michigan's economic downturn will hit the Pistons harder than the Tigers, Lions and Red Wings because their diehard fan core has never been as strong and deep as Detroit's other pro teams. Expectations aren't high as the Pistons begin another transitional season tonight, but the unknown should bring some excitement. Detroit fans have been spoiled. We regularly treat basketball and hockey seasons with a yawn and a shrug. 'Wake us at playoff time' has been our winter retort. But it's actually refreshing that there's nothing automatic about these Pistons. Every game might mean something for a change. There are no definitive answers, only questions. ... Considering the Wings' early inconsistencies, this could be the first season since 2000 Detroit won't have an NBA or NHL division champ. It'll be more dramatic than what we're accustomed to in Detroit, but since when is a little drama and uncertainty a bad thing in sports?"

  • Jody Genessy of the Deseret News: "For the first time in the franchise's 35-year history, the Jazz will play a season without having every on-the-court move described by the colorful character who turned 'the ole cowhide globe hits home' and 'Stockton-to-Malone!' into Utah household phrases. The new era of Jazz broadcasting officially begins tonight at Denver. You gotta love it, baby? David Locke won't say it quite like that, but he sure hopes that's the case. If you tune in, however, prepare to be a little weirded out. Even the charismatic and confident Locke, who's taking over as the radio voice of the Jazz, expects it to be a bit bizarre on everybody's eardrums now that the retired Hot Rod Hundley has exchanged the play-by-play airwaves for warmer winter air in Arizona. 'I'm really aware,' Locke said, 'that it's going to be strange for people and hard for them.' Count the sports-talk-show host/broadcaster among those who will have to acquire a taste to the new sound accompanying Jerry Sloan's squad. Even with his Bay Area roots and a near-decade stay in Seattle, Locke has been listening to Hundley and rooting for the Jazz since his childhood -- just like many Utahns."