Detroit Pistons vs. Atlanta Hawks | 8:00 p.m. ET | League Pass
The Atlanta Hawks will host the Detroit Pistons, but both teams will be missing a key player from last year. Detroit lost Greg Monroe in free agency to the Milwaukee Bucks, which may serve as a good thing for Andre Drummond. Monroe, who averaged 15.9 points, 10.2 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game on 50% shooting from the floor, has a very similar skill-set as Drummond. The presence of both guys on the court often clogged the paint, since neither can stretch the floor. Drummond should now have more room to operate on the block and Brandon Jennings should have much wider lanes to the rim. Detroit is looking to make it back to the playoffs, for the first time since 2009, by continuing to build on the momentum they established late last year after dumping Josh Smith, another floor-space killer. On the bright side, we get to see Stanley Johnson in action, a potential star in this league one day.
The Atlanta Hawks will be without DeMarre Carroll, whom they lost in free agency to the Toronto Raptors. Carroll served as a defensive monster on the wing, often drawing the matchup against the opposing team's best scorer. Carroll, who averaged 12.6 points, 5.3 rebounds 1.7 assists per game on [a career best] 48.7% shooting, will be replaced by Kent Bazemore, who averaged just 5.2 points per game last season. More importantly, every team now knows what this Atlanta team is all about. Don't expect the Hawks to run out of the gates and trample everyone again; well, perhaps Detroit.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Chicago Bulls | 8:00 p.m. ET | TNT
And now, what we have all come for on Opening Night. LeBron James, who was battling back issues, will indeed play. James sat for about two weeks after receiving an anti-inflammatory shot for his back, but he's stated he's ready to go tonight. That's great, because he doesn't have too much of a choice. The start of the season won't be a pretty one for Cleveland, as Daniel Obed wrote. They will start the season off without Kyrie Irving, as he recovers from knee surgery, and Iman Shumpert, as he recovers from wrist surgery. Kevin Love is just coming back from shoulder surgery, so he may not play at a high level immediately. Expect James to have to carry quite the load early on, as if that's never the case. James averaged 25.3 points (lowest since rookie season), 6.0 rebounds (lowest since rookie season), 7.4 assists (second career-best) and 1.6 steals per game on 48.8% shooting (lowest since 2008) last year.
Will Derrick Rose play? It's a phrase we all know too well. The answer: yes, he will. On the first day of practice, Derrick Rose fractured his left orbital after taking an elbow to the face. Rose underwent surgery and even played in the team's last preseason game. Rose has admitted to having blurred vision under certain circumstances but intends to play. This will also be Fred Hoiberg's first NBA game as head coach, after the firing of Tom Thibodeau this offseason by the Bulls. Chicago hates Cleveland; more specifically, Chicago hates LeBron James. This shall be good.
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Golden State Warriors | 10:30 p.m. ET | TNT
Finally, we get to watch the future tyrant of the NBA. Is that too much? Probably, but Anthony Davis will be that dominant. Here's a reminder: Anthony Davis has been legally capable of drinking beer, or whatever alcoholic beverage is of his choice, for 19 months. He's only 22, folks. Yet, he posted the 11th best PER (Player Efficiency Rating) of all time last year (30.81). He continues to improve in every statistical category imaginable since his rookie year. You name it and he's improved in it every single year. From points, to rebounds, assists, steals, shooting percentages, everything. But it gets better. Under new head coach, Alvin Gentry, Davis will be adding the long ball to his arsenal. He may already be unstoppable and he may be far from the peak of his prime. Insane, right? But don't expect too much of a great game. Davis may be great, but the Pelicans are far from it.
It's ring night for the defending champions! The Golden State Warriors will be presented with their championship rings before the game. Steve Kerr is expected to be in attendance for the ceremony, if his health permits, and may watch the game from the locker room. Steve Kerr the head coach, however, will miss the season opener as he continues to recover from back surgery. In the meantime, interim coach Luke Walton will lead the group until Kerr returns. Kerr's timetable remains unknown.