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    NBA Season Returns Tonight with Two Marquee Match-Ups

    By Lucas M.

    After a long offseason of Dwight Howard drama and a sudden burst of James Harden-related trade action last weekend, the NBA season finally tips off tonight with two great match-ups between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Lakers. All four teams have something to prove – even (maybe even especially) the defending champion Miami Heat. Here we will take a look at some of the biggest offseason moves these four teams made, as well as the point spreads and season outlooks for four of the biggest teams in the NBA.

    Boston Celtics (+6) at Miami Heat, 8:00 p.m. EST

    You think Ray Allen is going to get mentioned in this game? Maybe just a couple times, huh?

    In one of the splashiest offseason acquisitions, the Miami Heat obtained future Hall of Fame shooter Ray Allen from the Celtics. There are hurt feelings on both sides; the Celtics had put Allen on the trading block several times last season, and then when he left for free agency for half the money the Celts were willing to pay him, some of his former teammates didn’t exactly approve of the move.

    “We’re not going to make this into a Ray Allen or Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rondo thing,”Paul Pierce said. “Right now my focus is on playing in the game tomorrow vs. the Miami Heat. Everything’s that happened has already happened. He’s here. He’s happy to be here. We wish him the best for his family and the situation, but I’m more focused on the Boston Celtics.”

    Still, the new-look Miami Heat are going to be absolutely fascinating to watch. Miami coach Erik Spoelstra has publically committed to a positionless brand of basketball that would have Lebron James freelancing across the court and wreaking havoc wherever he sees fit, and Ray Allen could fill a massive hole in their offense by knocking down the kinds of open threes that Mike Miller so frequently missed last season. The Celtics, meanwhile, have quietly restocked, as they will have Jeff Green back and healthy after heart surgery last season, and Jason Terry was added to the mix to provide instant offense and shooting off the bench.

    Dallas Mavericks (+8.5) at the Los Angeles Lakers, 10:30 p.m. EST

    Once again, I’m not sure if you heard anything about this, but Steve Nash and Dwight Howard are on the Lakers now. There are a lot of questions about how the team is going to fit together chemistry-wise, but Metta World Peace, always the voice of reason, is a believer in the Lakers’ All-World starting five.

    “Everybody on the starting five has led their own team and been the go-to guy, the best player on a team,” World Peace said. “We’ve all been the man somewhere else, and now we’re together. It’s unbelievable. They’re all rock stars, but everybody has a great attitude. It’s a great time, great time for us.”

    It remains to be seen how Howard and Kobe will co-exist, but one thing is for sure: Pau Gasol is going to flourish in the pick and roll with Steve Nash. On paper, this team could absolutely slay the West, and has every expectation of doing so. Dallas, meanwhile, lost out big time in their pursuit of Howard and Deron Williams, and is now left trying to pick up the pieces.

    “We had some big fish available and we didn’t get them. So you can do either of two things — blow the whole thing up and start over, or keep signing guys to short contracts to stay a player in the free agent market the following year,” Nowitzki said. “For basically saying we still want to be a player next summer, we still put a decent product out there. We’re going to compete and see what happens.”