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See the Future: Dallas at Los Angeles, Game 1

Dallas starts the season short-handed against the most star-studded Western Conference team, the Los Angeles Lakers.

Kevin Jairaj-US PRESSWIRE

It's here! It's finally here! The regular season starts for Dallas late Tuesday night when they head to Staples Center to take on the Lakers. Finally games we can get passionate about, games we can draw conclusions from, games where the rotation becomes clear, games where Dominique Jones doesnt play! Did I mention we're playing the Lakers though? The Lakers with Steve Nash and Dwight Howard. Oh, and some fella named Kobe Bryant (maybe) as well as this all world power forward named Pau Gasol. Did I mention the Mavs starting center is probably going to be Eddy Curry. And that it's 2012?

The 2011-2012 Laker campaign was one filled with frustration. Though they won 41 games in the lockout shortened season, things never seemed to click. Despite acquiring guard Ramon Sessions for the last part of the season and playoffs, the Lakers were crushed by the Oklahoma City Thunder 4-1 in the playoff semi-finals. The Lakers rebounded in a hurry, first trading for Steve Nash using the trade exception they received from the Mavericks due to the Lamar Odom trade (thanks again, Lamar!). Next, in a four team megatrade involving LA, Philly, Orlando and Denver, the Lakers sent mercurial center Andrew Bynum to Philadelphia and got back All-Universe center Dwight Howard.

Though depth and injuries may be concerns for the Lakers as the season rolls on (Antawn Jamison is the most well known member of the Laker bench), the quartet of Nash-Bryant-Gasol-Howard presents match up problems for just about every team in the league on the offensive end. However, due to the ages of Bryant and Nash and minute considerations, we're most likely to only see all four players on the court at the same time at the start and end of games. Defensively, the presence of Dwight Howard alone makes this team worth watching. Having Howard as a last line of defensive allows Metta World Peace and Kobe to be more aggressive and allows the Lakers to hide the defensive shortcomings of Steve Nash, Antawn Jamison, and other members of the bench.

How does Dallas match up with Los Angeles? That's a challenging question. As of this writing, Kobe may not play, but this being Kobe Bryant I expect he will. Dallas is short-handed, with Dirk obviously out and Chris Kaman missing the opener; things are not looking fantastic for the good guys. It's looking more and more likely Eddy Curry will be the starting center opening night. The potential lineup could vary, though Collison, Mayo, Curry, and Marion are probably locks. It comes down to whether Carlisle wants Marion in as the small forward or power forward. I'll assume he'll go for a veteran presense on the road and Elton Brand will get the start along side the previously listed starters. Dallas will need to focus on rebounding and help defense and hope to exploit a Laker defense that has not spent much time together on the floor during the preseason.

Dallas may be in for a rough first game, but with so many things up in the air at the moment, any outcome is possible. What do you hope to see from the team tonight? What are you most looking forward to?