By Dennis Berry
The dictionary defines a rival as, “a person who is competing for the same object or goal as another, or who tries to equal or outdo another; competitor.”
Going into a new season the NBA has some great team rivalries that will make headlines. Teams will not only be battling for playoff positions, but in some cases will be trying to win over fans in the city they share.
Here are four matchups to keep an eye on this season:
While this does not seem like a mainstream rivalry, this is a matchup to keep an eye on. The Spurs have had the best record in the Western Conference the past two seasons. Last year they lost to the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals. The Spurs were up two games to none in that series before the Thunder won four straight to secure their first trip to the NBA Finals.
Each team did not make major moves in the offseason, so the rosters are the same as they were for that series. There is plenty of star power on both sides that will get fans' attention. The Spurs will feature their Big Three of Tim Duncan, Manu Giniboli, and Tony Parker. The Thunder will counter with James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Kevin Durant.
This year the Spurs will be out for revenge. They will want to prove that they are a better team than they showed in those final four games.
For years the Knicks were the only basketball team in the Big Apple. With the Nets' move to Brooklyn, every year the Nets and Knicks face off for bragging rights in New York.
The Nets made plenty of noise in the offseason. They have one of the best starting lineups in the league with Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, and Brooke Lopez. The Nets have a chance to finish as one of the top four seeds in the East.
The Knicks have plenty of star power in Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire. They also have the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in center Tyson Chandler. The Knicks have one of the best front courts in the NBA. The question for them will be the play at point guard. There are plenty of questions that surround Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton.
Both of these teams are playoff teams and their regular season games will have an impact on their playoff seeding.
The Clippers moved to Los Angeles in 1984. Since that move they have been the second team in town to the Lakers. Over the past couple of years, however, the Clippers have remade their team and now are true competitors with the team they share the Staples Center with.
The rivalry took a big step when the Clippers acquired Chris Paul from New Orleans. This was right after the Lakers' attempt to acquire the All-Star point guard was vetoed by the league. Since Paul joined the Clippers he has been the leader for them and has developed a dislike for the Lakers.
This year the Lakers-Clippers could be the most important rivalry in the West. The Lakers are seen as the NBA title favorites with the additions of Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. The Clippers made good – but less flashy – moves bringing in Jamal Crawford, Lamar Odom, and Grant Hill.
This year the Clippers are going to want to prove that they are no longer that “other NBA team in Los Angeles.”
This will be the major rivalry for fans to keep their eye on. These teams played in the Eastern Conference Finals last season with the Heat winning it in seven games. During that series there was plenty of physical play and even Rajon Rondo calling the Heat crybabies.
This rivalry started when LeBron James was in Cleveland. The Celtics knocked James out of the playoffs two of his final three years in Cleveland. That included James' final game as a Cavalier, a 94-85 loss in Game 6 in Boston during the 2010 NBA Playoffs. After that loss James signed with the Heat with the purpose of not only winning a title, but beating the Celtics.
During the 2012 offseason there was plenty to add to the hate these teams have for each other.
The major move was the Heat signing Ray Allen. Allen had spent the previous five seasons in Boston and helped win a NBA title in 2007. During the 2011-12 season, it seemed that Allen was no longer happy in Boston. He missed 20 games due to injury and lost his starting spot. Allen’s shot attempts and shooting percentage suffered as well.
So he made the move south and joined the Celtics' biggest rival in the East. As you can imagine this did not sit well with his former Boston teammates.
To counter, the Celtics had to make a move for the loss of Allen. They went out and signed Jason Terry. Of course the Heat remember Terry for his great play against them in the 2011 Finals. He averaged 18 points on 49% shooting. Terry was also out there talking talking plenty of trash to James and Dwyane Wade.
These teams will open the season against each other on October 30 as the Heat will raise their championship banner with the Celtics watching.
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