Heat-Magic lead off NBA's first weekend

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Four days in and two Eastern Conference finals previews already?

Four days in and two Eastern Conference finals previews already?

We are only four days into the season, and by night’s end we will probably have already seen a possible preview of the Eastern Conference finals — twice.

The Miami Heat and their big three of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh looked like they had only played three minutes together in the preseason. Oh, that’s right — that is all they played. They were a turnover, poor-shooting machine yet were still a possession away from walking out of Boston with a win Tuesday night.

So, conference finals preview No. 1 was a little lackluster. The two teams get another crack at it Nov. 11 in Miami. Now we get possible conference finals preview No. 2 tonight as the Heat make their home debut against and Orlando Magic team that cruised past a (insert any disparaging adjective here) Washington Wizards team Thursday night.

It’s James, Wade and Bosh vs. Dwight Howard, Vince Carter, Jameer Nelson and Rashard Lewis. This will be the 1-1 Heat’s third game in four days, while the 1-0 Magic played none of their starters — who shot 69 percent for the game — in the fourth quarter.

“(The Magic) to me have the best chance to beat the Miami Heat in the East (Conference),” said TNT analyst Charles Barkley. “I don’t know how the Celtics are going to hold up over the long haul.  To me, this is the most clear and present danger to the Miami Heat.”

Orlando does not see Boston until a Christmas Day tilt in Orlando.

On tap this weekend
The Heat-Magic matchup is the clear-cut favorite for game of the weekend, but there are a few others to take a look at.
• The Knicks travel to Boston tonight as Amar’e Stoudemire and New York try to make the Celtics a 1-2 team in this early Atlantic Division tilt.
• Sacramento is at New Jersey tonight, and both teams are 1-0. Savor that for a second.
• The general consensus is that it is the Lakers out West, with seeds 2-8 up for grabs. With that said, the Denver at New Orleans game tonight could be a 2-7 preview or a 4-5 preview, and hey, you still get to see Carmelo Anthony in a Nuggets uni for a little while longer.  And the same can be said for Saturday night’s game between Denver and host Houston and the Hornets' trip to San Antonio.
• Charlotte travels to Milwaukee as both will be playing the second of back-to-back games in an early-season matchup of Eastern Conference teams that will probably battle for the fifth and sixth seeds way down the road.
• An 0-2 Utah will be on two days rest as it tries to get off the mat by playing host to Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green and the Oklahoma City Thunder Sunday night on NBATV.

Rookie Debuts
Blake Griffin
Last year’s No. 1 overall pick finally made his debut and showcased his spectacular athleticism with 20 points, 14 boards, four assists and a steal in 38 minutes of action for the Clippers.

John Wall
Barkley offered up his take of Wall during the network’s pregame coverage of the rookie’s debut against the Orlando Magic Thursday night.

“(Tonight) is going to be the first time in (Wall’s) life he’s going to play against someone as good as him,” he said.

This year’s No. 1 overall pick was the only highlight of a lackluster performance from the Wizards. He scored 14, dished out nine, stole three and grabbed one board in 35 minutes of work. Wall shot 6-of-19 from the field.

Evan Turner
The third overall pick this June played 31 minutes and scored 16 with six assists, seven rebounds and a block for the 76ers.

Derrick Favors
The third overall pick, considered a project for the Nets, played 20 minutes and grabbed a board a minute as well as eight points.

Wesley Johnson
A hamstring has slowed the fourth overall pick as he was limited to 18 minutes for the Timberwolves. He registered a steal, assist, four boards and 13 points in those 18 minutes, however.

DeMarcus Cousins
The fifth overall pick by the Kings played 26 minutes and got eight boards, five assists and 14 points. Cousins and Favors will face off tonight as the Kings travel to New Jersey, and Cousins will get a chance to show the Nets he should have been the first big man taken instead of Favors.

Gordon Hayward
The ninth overall pick for the Utah Jazz is averaging 22 minutes for the 0-2 Jazz with 7.5 ppg, 5.5 rebounds and 1.5 blocks.  

The Heat are the best ever
At least through one game the Miami Heat are part of something that’s officially the best ever.

TNT’s coverage of the Miami-Boston game was the most watched regular season game ever on cable — earning a 4.6 share with 7.4 million viewers and 5.3 million households seeing the game. It topped a Bulls-Lakers game from February 1996.

The Lakers-Rockets game that followed drew a 2.4 share, giving TNT the most watched opening night doubleheader in its 27 years of covering the Association.

Close out that tab
A bar in Hollywood, Fla., offered to cover the tab of every patron there should the Miami Heat lose to Boston. Well, the Heat did, and the bar coughed up more than $4,000. Whiskey Tango All American Bar & Grill covered the bill — up to $25 — of anyone who signed up 30 minutes before the season opener.

Confident the team would go 82-0, the bar made the offer before the season began. And their confidence remains with the 1-1 Heat heading into tonight’s Sunshine State clash with Orlando, as the establishment’s offer stands for the entire regular season.

NBA is king of social media
The reports are in, and according to sportsfangraph.com the NBA is head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to social media. The Association has 2,126,337 Twitter followers and 5,686,593 Facebook fans for a total of 7,812,930 — outpacing second-place soccer team Barcelona by 1,898,400.  

Of the “big four” leagues, the NFL is ninth with over three million, the NHL is 17th with a shade over 1.4 million and Major League Baseball is 19th with a little over 1.2 million fans and followers.

And the NBA has teams that are more connected than entire leagues as the Lakers ranked third, the Celtics 14th, the magic 18th, the Cavaliers 37th, the Bulls 40th and the Heat 50th.

Tip-ins
Monta Ellis’ 46 points on Wednesday marked the highest-scoring opening night in the NBA since Michael Jordan scored 54 in 1989.

The “other” Russian in the New York-New Jersey area, Knicks center Timofey Mozgov, had a less than stellar debut when he collected four fouls in seven minutes of play. He did pull down three boards.

Opening-night Twitters
Bucks rookie forward Larry Sanders @LarryLuv_8
"Who ever said reach for the clouds is kinda dumb, cuz I'm 21 and I'm moon walkin on the sun"

Kings rookie center DeMarcus Cousins @boogiecousins
"Shoutout to our pilot for making that amazing landing ...thank you lord!"
After terrible weather swept across the Midwest and southeast Tuesday with wind gusts as high as 81 mph. Through all of this, the Sacramento team plane was flying into Minnesota for its Wednesday-night opener.

Bobcats center Nazr Mohammed @NazrMohammed
"Damn! Since when did everyone get to speak at the ring ceremony?!?! When I won it I had something to say lol"
Tweeted while watching the Lakers get their championship rings before their opener against Houston.

Magic forward Rashard Lewis @Rashard_Lewis
"Pure motivation watching the lakers get that ring"
Also tweeted while watching the Lakers get their championship rings before their opener against Houston.

— By Corby A. Yarbrough @AthlonCorby on Twitter

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