Defending champions Cleveland Cavaliers kick off season against New York Knicks

LeBron finally brought a championship to his city. Carmelo Anthony is still searching for the ever-elusive ring. Both the Knicks and Cavaliers play in the opening of the NBA season, so here's what to expect.

Defending champions Cleveland Cavaliers kick off season against New York Knicks
LeBron James enters the season a three-time champion, and the Knicks will look to overpower him. Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images North America

The New York Knicks and the Cleveland Cavaliers battle each other to begin the season in the first of three games on Tuesday night.

Cleveland is coming in hot after winning their first ever championship just a few short months ago. The Knicks are coming off a much-improved 32-50 season, and with some new faces, look to make a statement straight out of the gates.

Small-forward matchup

It goes without saying that LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony is the main matchup in this season opener. They're both phenomenal scorers in their own ways, so we'll be seeing a lot of these two in action. James is the biggest beneficiary of the Cavalier's championship, and now, he does not have as much weight on his shoulders. This makes him a legitimately scary asset for this year's Cavaliers.

Anthony might not have a ring on his resume, but a few gold medals are still pretty cool. Credit: Michael Reaves/Getty Images North America
Anthony might not have a ring on his resume, but a few gold medals are still pretty cool. Credit: Michael Reaves/Getty Images North America

As for Anthony, he is coming out of a summer in which he became the first male basketball player to win three gold medals in the Olympics. He's had an intriguing history following the 2008 and 2012 Olympics: the former resulted in Anthony and the Nuggets making it to the Western Conference Finals, the latter resulted in the Knicks' second-round exit to the Pacers.

Ironically, the season following the 2012 Olympics was the last time the Knicks made the playoffs, so who knows how the year turns out for the Knicks?

New faces

Both teams have acquired a good amount of new faces, and we'll just have to see how they perform against each other.

Derrick Rose might end up playing, following his civil trial in Los Angeles. He brings an intensity that many point-guards in the past have not. Likewise, Brandon Jennings is ready to step in and produce as he has all preseason.

Cleveland brought in Toney Douglas and Mike Dunleavy, who both have solid potential off the bench. Douglas is a scoring point-guard and Dunleavy is a sharpshooter, though it seems likely that Richard Jefferson would be the regular backup to James.

J. R. Smith is now back under contract, and though he isn't a new face, necessarily, he's a new man now that he's become a world champion. Preseason is a bad gauge for how players will perform in the regular season, but it's nice to see him perform well as he transitions into the games that count.

Nonetheless, the change in rosters seem to be an interesting thing to follow for the first game of the season.

Outcome

The Knicks definitely have a solid core that can go one of two ways: start out winning and stay winning, or start out trailing and make a strong comeback. Anthony will have to be the veteran presence to guide the younger players while he's off the court. Likewise, Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee will be integral to ensuring the Knicks stay consistent.

Can Anthony lead his team to a victory? Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America
Can Anthony lead his team to a victory? Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images North America

The Cavaliers, for the most part, have nothing to worry about. Despite a couple of new players, the roster has stayed the same and their chemistry is pretty solid after two seasons together. That makes the Knicks' chances of a win a bit more slim.

Prediction: Cavaliers-102, Knicks-95