Chucky Atkins vs Luke Ridnour and Antonio Daniels:
Another position that Nate is planning on rotating minutes and rotations. By the end of last season, Luke was the starter, so I expect to see him start this one, even though he and Daniels will likely split playing time in half. We get to see how our starting PG can handle this duo. This will be our first taste of just how well he can defend. I know we would all prefer if he was coming off the bench, but for awhile, he is going to be our starting PG, as much as we may not be too fond of him starting. I hope he carries the same attitude that he had in camp, to the pre-season. He was up in player's faces, getting onto them for not doing things right, and we can always use another vocal leader. I expect to see him do what he likes to do, jack up the 3's, hopefully they fall tonight. I think the Seattle duo will get the best of him tonight. Also, we will get a chance to see some of the guys that are fighting to be the backup PG--Sasha, Bobbitt, and Brown. Sasha seems to be very confident, let's hope he uses this swagger for good, and doesn't try to pick any fights tonight. Bobbitt will probably play some against Daniels, since he is a bigger guard that can use his bulk against him, and won't have to try to keep up with him, like he would have to do with Luke. I expect to see Atkins and Brown play most of the minutes against Ridnour, all fast PGs, that like to run. I also will be anxious to find out if Brown can really get to the basket on anyone.
Kobe Bryant vs Ray Allen:
Lakers finally get to see Kobe's first game on his team and with him as the leader. He seems ready for the role by actions he has taken and by what he has been saying about Rudy and this team. We get to see the new and improved Kobe, he's 10 pounds bulkier and has a clear mind, no more trial hanging over his head. We are going to see a lock down by Kobe, otherwise, we will see another classic Ray Allen performance against the Lakers. He likes to have shootouts against us, so we are going to need Kobe to limit his production, as well as, match whatever he does. This is the matchup of the game and will be a physical one. Everyone is wanting to see how Kobe does without Shaq, we already know what Shaq can do alone (lose to the Rockets), not it's Kobe's turn to see if he and his new teammates can do any better. If Kobe attacks early, he can have his way with Allen, because Ronald Murray is questionable for the game, Allen will likely have to play a large portion of the minutes. Let's see what this low post Kobe can do. I expect to see a couple of high flying jams, several trips to the line, and some fast break layups from #8. Also, we get to see how well Kareem can fit into Rudy's system and how he accepts this limited role, with Kobe and Caron getting SG time. He has also added some bulk, if he can show he can knock down shots, and be happy with his new role, we all should be happy.
Lamar Odom vs Rashard Lewis:
Two reasons for Odom starting off against Lewis, one Caron very well might have to sit this one out and he is a lot better matchup against Rashard. I really would prefer not to have Caron have to play against Lewis, especially if he isn't 100%, that just wouldn't help the Lakers out at all. Lewis is a big, athletic player, it would only make sense to match him up against Odom. I expect this to be a very good matchup, both are similar in build (Odom is a little stronger), same height, same jersey number, and both put up about the same number of points. If Caron can play, I still wouldn't expect him to start, but he would see his fair share of time backing up Kobe and coming in for Odom, when Odom comes out or moves up to PF. Now, it could be that Butler is the one that can play and Grant can't, if that's the case, then Butler would start at SF and Odom would start at PF. I just don't think Butler would have all that good of a night. If Caron is out, then we can see Luke's new arsenal. He has added muscle and has drastically improved his jumper, we can see if he will be better suited at the SF, or if he and Rudy have the right idea of playing him more at the PF (but behind Odom, Grant, and Slava...there would be limited minutes there) So, to make a long story short...expect to see Odom vs Lewis, the second best matchup of the game.
Brian Grant vs Reggie Evans:
Typically, we would be seeing Odom play this spot, since Rudy is planning on moving him to the PF slot, at least for awhile. But with Butler as a game time decision, it's quite possible that he will sit out the first pre-season game. Brian Grant is also somewhat of a question mark, but he's a tough guy that wants to be out there, and since it wasn't even a week ago, when he said he isn't going to miss much, I expect for him to play. This isn't saying that Odom won't see some time at PF tonight, he most likely will see a large portion of his minutes at PF, especially if Grant doesn't feel up to playing big minutes. Nate said he wanted to rotate the players at this position a good bit, because he has a stock pile on his hands--Collison, Fortson, and Radmanovic. I would expect that Rudy, being the player coach that he is, would definitely use Grant against the big body, Fortson. Odom's length and athleticism are two of his biggest attributes and reason enough to play him at the PF. He was able to play it with the Heat, so this will be no different, only now they have a very good duo at the PF...Odom and Grant. I expect that Grant will start things off here. The Lakers can easily dominate this position tonight. We have our choice of length or strength, so none of these small Sonics will be any trouble for us. I think Collison will have the best night out of any of their PFs. He is a second year rookie, who has talent, and something to prove. Too bad for him Odom will limit his production.
Chris Mihm vs Vitaly Potapenko:
If only Stephen A. Smith was calling this one. V-Italy Pot-a-pen-ko against the players that is our third best player at camp. Now we get to see if he deserved all the praise Rudy was giving him at camp, and how much muscle he has added on this summer. As long as he can hear the refs blow the whistle, since he has impaired hearing, due to a elbow to the ear, then he will be fine. Neither one of these guys are going to put up huge numbers on any end of the court, neither are going to play great defense, neither are going to leave the fans going wow, this is going to be the boring matchup of the night. Both put up similar numbers, Mihm is more of a presence on the glass, while Potapenko is a slightly better scorer. If the Lakers can get Mihm some easy buckets in the first quarter, he should