The Big Picture: The Indiana Pacers are going to be one of the very worst teams in the NBA this year, neck and neck with the Toronto Raptors, so I'm glad we get to see them in the home opener. What pushes them out of that dreaded cellar spot in my mind is Danny Granger being a better scorer than Andrea Bargnani, and the strong possibility that Roy Hibbert is better than anyone else on the Raps.
After that, though, it's a horror show of mediocrity disguised as competence mixed with dashes of intrigue. Is Darren Collison really a quality point guard? Is Paul George the second coming of Andre Iguodala? Does Josh McRoberts regret returning to Duke for his sophomore season instead of being a possible lottery pick? How long is it until Mike Dunleavy's descent into the Bobby Simmons Memorial "Why Do I Always End Up On Losing Teams?" funk?
The Bobcats may have struggled at creating offense in their first game (as they will, barring changes to the roster), but the Pacers are going to be an epic disaster on defense this season, right there with the Raptors. The Cats should be clear favorites in this one.
Musical Interlude: John Mellencamp -- "Authority Song"
Key to Victory: Hibbert put up 28 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 blocks in an up-tempo game against the Spurs. I'd love to see our small lineups run around him and force him to work hard on defense, closing out on shooters and shuffling outside the lane to prevent penetration. Essentially, since he's their only effective post player on offense, we should go straight at him and force him to make defensive plays. Once he's in foul trouble, that leaves Jeff Foster, Josh McRoberts, and maybe even James Posey as the remaining "big" men, which plays right into the Bobcats' strengths.