The Denver Nuggets handily beat the Miami Heat in five games to win the NBA championship last June.
From the way that they have sounded since winning the franchise’s first-ever title though, one would think that it was the Los Angeles Lakers whom they faced in the NBA Finals.
The Lakers have not backed down either and these extra-curricular activities have only fueled the fire of this burgeoning rivalry.
The NBA is looking to capitalize on the attention that the trash talk between these two Western Conference rivals is generating as they have scheduled Denver to host Los Angeles at the Ball Arena on opening night of the upcoming ‘23-’24 regular season. This comes just five months after the Nuggets swept the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.
Denver comes into the season favored to win it all once again in 2024 with most of their championship-winning team coming back for another campaign. Nikola Jokic, the 2023 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player and a two-time NBA Most Valuable Player, is still only 28 years old and has decided not to suit up for Serbia in this month’s FIBA World Cup in order to enter next season fresh for their title defense.
Meanwhile, the Lakers and the 38-year-old LeBron James will be entering the sixth season of a partnership that has already yielded them one NBA title in 2020. Though Los Angeles fell short versus the Nuggets, they still had quite an impressive run to the Western Conference Finals as a seventh seed that made it to the postseason through the play-in tournament.
Los Angeles will enter the year with a slightly different roster and currently have the fourth-best championship odds in the West behind Denver, the Phoenix Suns, and the Golden State Warriors.
The Suns and Warriors will also be playing against one another on opening night in a match-up that has many underlying personal storylines. This meeting marks the first time that Phoenix’s 13-time NBA All-Star Kevin Durant will play in front of fans at Golden State’s Chase Center since he left the team in free agency back in 2019.
On the other end of the floor, the Warriors’ newly acquired guard Chris Paul will be debuting with his new team after the Suns shipped him out just last month. Paul’s three-year stay at Phoenix saw them make the NBA Finals in 2021 for the first time since 1993, albeit they fell short and that marked the high-point of his time in Arizona as he struggled with injuries over the past two seasons.
The first day of the new NBA season could potentially be a preview of the second round of the Western Conference playoffs. These four teams are all coming in with veteran-heavy rosters that would be disappointed if their campaigns ended with anything less than a championship.
Ultimately, these opening night games will be all but a faint memory once the playoffs roll in, but will nonetheless play a crucial role in building momentum as the season begins.