Gametime: 8 p.m. EST
Even if Al Jefferson doesn't play, this will be a matchup of two teams debuting their shiny new offseason acquisitions. The Rockets have built a young contending team by managing assets extremely well, deftly nabbing James Harden from the Thunder a little over a year ago after signing a couple talented players in Omer Asik and Jeremy Lin. This offseason they signed Dwight Howard to launch themselves into immediate playoff contention.
The Rockets are apparently starting Patrick Beverley over Lin, which is interesting. I can't pretend I saw any more of Beverley than what I saw in the playoffs so I can't really make heads or tails of this move. That said, starting isn't that important as long as the more effective player gets more minutes. The other point of interest is that Houston has been starting a dual-center lineup of Howard and Asik that should terrify anyone who wants to get into the paint. Also Chandler Parsons is a little low-profile but he's quite talented.
As for the Bobcats, their starting lineup is up in the air until we hear definitively about Jefferson's status. If he's ready, the Bobcats may go back to starting him with Zeller at power forward, like at the beginning of the preseason. That could be a scary proposition for a rookie's first game, to go up against Dwight Howard. Or maybe Clifford sticks with Josh McRoberts, who has more consistent range on his jump shot.
Anyway, the season is finally here and at last we can see the Bobcats' offseason work on the court at full effort.