Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh open slowly
Many people think the holiday this week is Halloween, but we hoops junkies know that Tuesday's tip-off to the NBA season is the real holiday. We couldn't have asked for a better starting game than to see the new-look Miami Heat facing off against the veteran Boston Celtics. The game went down about the way you should have expected: the C's looked like a championship-caliber team with a great feel for each other, while the Heat looked like they were just starting out the process of learning to play with each other, all of which was reflected in fantasy production.
Don't read too much into the Heat and the generally poor production from the Super Friends. Dwyane Wade missed nearly the entire preseason and the Heat were facing probably the best defensive team in the Association, so they were bound to be out of sync. In a few weeks, we'll get a better picture of what their stat production should look like. Certainly LeBron James and D-Wade shouldn't combine for 14 turnovers, and Chris Bosh and Wade shouldn't shoot a combined 7-for-27.
As for the Celtics, we got a pretty decent look at what to expect in fantasy terms. Shaquille O'Neal (nine points, seven boards) and Kevin Garnett (10 points, 10 rebounds) should push up on double-doubles but their overall value could be limited, especially with other frontcourt guys like Glen Davis and Jermaine O'Neal pilfering minutes. Ray Allen (20 points) and Paul Pierce (19 points) will score in the high teens. And while Rajon Rondo may well lead the league in assists this season (17 on Tuesday), his overall fantasy value will be limited by a lack of scoring (four points).
• The biggest outburst Tuesday night came from Nicolas Batum, who piled up 19 points (including three treys) and 11 boards for the Portland Trail Blazers against the Phoenix Suns. He has the skill and opportunity to continue producing well, so be sure to make sure he didn't slip to your waiver wire. The Blazers are deep and he's still learning the ropes, so consistency probably will be an issue for him. But early in the season, you want to grab any hot hand and see if he can keep it up.
• In that same game, we saw Steve Nash missing Amare Stoudemire, because he couldn't find other players to finish his dimes. He ended the contest with just six assists, countered by a brutal nine turnovers. Still, Nash is a baller, so he made up for it by hitting 10 of his 19 shots for 26 points. There's a pretty good chance we'll see his dimes at a recent low, but he'll counter that with a boost in scoring to keep his overall fantasy value afloat.
• The third game of the night, between the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets, went pretty much as expected in fantasy terms. Kobe Bryant scored 27 points, Pau Gasol had a big double-dub (29 points, 11 boards) and Lamar Odom double-doubled, too (14 points, 10 boards). For the Rockets, Aaron Brooks had 24 points and nine dimes, Kevin Martin had 26 points (three treys) and Luis Scola piled up 18 points and 16 boards. The most newsworthy aspect of the game was Yao Ming playing 23 minutes for nine points and 11 rebounds before fouling out. This team is chock full of injury risks, so time will tell how often we see a repeat of these numbers.
After Tuesday's three-game tease, it's time for a full slate of games Wednesday. Plenty to keep an eye on, including Stoudemire's debut with the New York Knicks against the Toronto Raptors, a battle of two up-and-comers when the Chicago Bulls face the Oklahoma City Thunder (8 p.m. ET on ESPN and ESPN3.com), and how different the Golden State Warriors will look without coach Don Nelson when they square off against the Rockets.
Tom Carpenter is a fantasy basketball analyst for ESPN.com.