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Kings at Heat: The Home Opener

There's no such thing as a must-win in October, so I'll just say a loss here would be painful. Sacramento is not a good team, and it is without starting center Brad Miller. But the Kings do have size in the frontcourt in Spencer Hawes, Jason Thompson and Mikki Moore, Beno Udrih is a stiff test for Mario Chalmers, and John Salmons is a variable that could tilt the balance in Sacramento's favor. Still, these are games Miami needs to win if it plans on being at all decent this year.

Matchup of the night: Kevin Martin vs. Dwyane Wade.

Martin and Wade are among the game's finest scorers, and each opened their respective season with a poor shooting game and a loss. Neither one of these guys plans on starting 08-09 on a prolonged cold streak, and each will try to take this game over. The player that does that most effectively will likely get the win.

Opposing player I'm scared of: Jason Thompson.

Right after the draft, I was among the few to herald Sacramento's pick of Thompson as a major coup rather than a major reach. I'll hunt down proof of that if you don't believe me. I saw him play in a holiday tournament at Orlando last year (where I also saw Beasley in one of his rare college duds) and it was obvious to me that this guy was going to be a good NBA player. 18 and 10 in 22 minutes sounds like a good start. Beasley's probably going to have to check this guy a fair amount, and he'll need way more wherewithal than he had in New York on Wednesday.

Prediction: Heat 96, Kings 92.

I promise I'm not going to pick the Heat every time. But if they can't handle the Kings at home, we've got problems.