NBA season preview 2012-13: The top teams who’ll contend for the NBA championship and the top national TV games to watch this season.
Sharing the wealth was not on the minds of the NBA’s elite teams over the summer, at least when it came to talent on the court. The handful of teams capable of winning a title either added big-name stars or kept the ones they had, widening the gap between the Association’s haves and have-nots. Here’s what the top teams were up to in the offseason:
Heat Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis are taking their talents to South Beach to join LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. The pressure is off after winning the title, but the Heat aren’t complacent or satisfied — they’re looking to build a dynasty.
Thunder The Thunder’s core of Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka and Russell Westbrook remains intact, and this young team will only get better with experience and last season’s trip to the Finals. The benefits of trading Sixth Man of the Year James Harden to Houston for Kevin Martin, Jeremy Lamb, two first-round and one second-round draft picks will play out in the future.
Lakers After two straight exits in the second round of the playoffs, the Lakers made huge moves to get back on top. They added Steve Nash in a sign-and-trade deal with the Suns, and acquired the game’s best big man in a trade for Dwight Howard. Pair them up with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol and the Lakers look scary good.
Spurs The Spurs were dominant in the regular season, but were beaten by the Thunder in the West finals. They re-signed Tim Duncan, who will likely finish his career as a Spur. The championship window is still open for Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, but the Spurs stood pat while their West foes improved.
Clippers Chris Paul and Blake Griffin got some veteran help with the additions of Jamal Crawford, Lamar Odom, Grant Hill and Matt Barnes, making the Clippers the deepest team in the NBA.
Celtics The Celtics took the Heat to seven games in the East finals, and looked to retool rather than rebuild over the summer. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo remain the solid core, while Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, and promising draft picks Fab Melo and Jared Sullinger add some much-needed scoring depth.
NBA 2012-13 National TV Highlights
Oct. 30: Opening night. Celtics at Heat, Mavericks at Lakers (TNT)
Nov. 1: Nets debut in Brooklyn/West Finals rematch (Postponed), Knicks at Nets, Thunder at Spurs (TNT)
Dec. 17: Linsanity back in NYC. Rockets at Knicks (NBA TV)
Dec. 25: Five Christmas Day games. Celtics at Nets (ESPN); Knicks at Lakers, Thunder at Heat (ABC); Rockets at Bulls, Nuggets at Clippers (ESPN)
Jan. 21: MLK Day. Pacers at Grizzlies (ESPN); Nets at Knicks (NBA TV); Spurs at 76ers, Lakers at Bulls (TNT)
Jan. 27: Heat at Celtics, Thunder at Lakers (ABC)
Jan. 30: Steve Nash returns to Phoenix. Lakers at Suns (ESPN)
Feb. 14: Heat at Thunder, Clippers at Lakers (TNT)
Feb. 17: All-Star Game in Houston (TNT)
March 18: Heat at Celtics (ESPN)
April 7: Lakers at Clippers (ABC)
April 17: Last day of regular season. Jazz at Grizzlies, Warriors at Trail Blazers (ESPN)