The Downbeat - 7 October 2010 - #333 - The What To Watch For Against The Blazers Edition

 

  The return of OMSW as the Dread Pirate Roberts.  I fully expect Matthews to get cheers when he checks into the game tonight. 

Portland fans are already taking notice after his 20-point performance against the Clippers in their first pre-season game in just 20 minutes of play.  Of course, we know that we had the league's best kept secret last season.  That's why it makes it that much more painful to see him gone, let alone in a rival's uniform.

We'll get plenty of reminders as well as we play Portland again in a few day and then four times this season.

  What will the starting lineup be?  Someone has to come off the bench and the candidates are Millsap, Miles, Bell, or AK.  Only DWill's and Jefferson's spots are for sure.

Sloan brought up a point yesterday in one of his interviews that if Millsap starts, who backs him up?  I would read into that that he plans on having AK in the starting lineup.  If not, then he would have his backup to Millsap.

We could see Sloan "toy" with the starting lineup during the pre-season.  So if Millsap comes off the bench tonight, we could see him starting the next game.

  How will the rookies (second-years) do?  Sloan has said they hope to hang on to guys for as long as they can so that they have time to prove themselves.  We'll see quite a bit of Hayward, Thompson, and Evans.  They'll also need to take a look at Gaines and Jeffers.  Those two are definitely on the outside looking in.  Nichols will probably get the least amount of minutes tonight.

  How will Al do?  How much has Big Al learned in a little over a week of practice?  He should have the basics down by now but will still lack the knowledge of the intricacies of the Jazz offense.  I imagine we'll see some very basic sets tonight.

On defense, how much of a factor is he going to be?  He's going to be going up against centers instead of power forwards this season which should allow his to keep up a bit more.  He brings more blocks than Okur and Boozer did.

  The first preseason game is everything and nothing.  It's everything in the fact that the long, long, off-season is over and we get some real basketball.  It's everything because we get to "see" (since it's not televised anywhere) how this team does against someone other than the second team.  It's everything because it's a bit of a new era in Jazz basketball; it's the biggest reboot we've had since the end of 2003.  It's everything if the Jazz lose to rival Portland.  And it's everything if the Jazz win.

It's nothing because we're not close to seeing the full rotation and starters playing starters' minutes.  It's nothing because win or lose, it doesn't count in the standings.  It's nothing because nobody outside the ESA will be able to see the game.  It's nothing because this is a team still trying to come together.

But ultimately, it's everything, because basketball is back.

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