It's only preseason, but there are a handful of areas worth careful attention in Sunday's Heat-Pistons preseason opener.
1. The Beasley-Marion Dynamic
Do they run with each other, or into each other? Does Beasley's presence open lanes for Marion or clog them up? Do they both crash the boards, or does one take off running on the shot? Is there a clear power forward and small forward, or are they just two interchangeable forwards (not that that's a bad thing)?
2. Point guard defense
It's unclear when new signee Shaun Livingston will have an impact in the ongoing battle to win the starting point guard spot, so I'm still looking at it as a three-horse race between Marcus Banks, Mario Chalmers and Chris Quinn. And I'm looking for one specific thing from those three: keeping the opposing point out of the lane, whether that's Chauncey Billups or Rodney Stuckey. The younger and more athletic Stuckey might even be a better gauge than Billups, who will mail in whatever minutes he gets. Whichever Heat point best keeps Stuckey from driving will establish himself as a front-runner for the opening night gig.
3. Joel Anthony
I was infatuated before, and even moreso now after the early returns from camp. I expect huge things from Anthony this year, and Detroit's front line is good enough to either fuel those expectations or extinguish them for a while. If Anthony holds his own against Rasheed Wallace, plays to a draw against Antonio McDyess and Jason Maxiell and tears up Kwame Brown, I'll know my suspicions about his breakout potential were warranted.