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NBA: Lakers-Nuggets, Western Finals rematch on opening day

by Bryan Gadingan

THE L.A. Lakers and the Denver Nuggets will face off in a rematch of the Western Conference Finals on the first day of the 2023-2024 National Basketball Association (NBA) season on October 25, 7:30 a.m. (PH Time), at Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado.

Last season, the reigning NBA champions finished the postseason with a 16-4 record. Los Angeles was one of the teams the Nuggets faced during the postseason, which they swept in the Western Conference finals.

The Los Angeles Lakers, on the other hand, had a busy summer, acquiring numerous players to bolster their team, while the Denver Nuggets are celebrating their 2022-2023 NBA Championship.

Excitement rises as the Lakers prepare to meet the reigning champions on the first night of the season.

Los Angeles Lakers’ Payback

Despite severe health worries in LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Los Angeles Lakers were able to turn their season around after the trade deadline after a disastrous 2-10 start that left them six games under .500 before the playoffs.

The Lakers advanced to the Western Conference finals as a No. 7 seed. However, the squad was unable to advance after being swept by the Denver Nuggets, headed by Nikola Jokic, who is widely regarded as the league’s finest player.

However, the first meeting between the two teams is a different story as LA Lakers General Manager Rob Pelinka was able to overhaul the Lakers’ lineup.

The 17-time world champions have added newcomers Gabe Vincent, Christian Wood, Taurean Prince, Jaxson Hayes, Cam Reddish, and rookies Jalen Hood-Schifino and Maxwell Lewis to their roster.

The team was also able to re-sign Anthony Davis, fan favorite Austin Reaves, who is fresh off a World Cup appearance, D’Angelo Russell, Rui Hachimura, and Jarred Vanderbilt in order to keep its core intact around star player LeBron James.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis are fuming  as they’ve been subjected to an outpouring of comments. “It was just a lot of talking,” Davis said earlier this month during a media event. “We get it, y’all won, but me and Bron had some conversations. We can’t wait (to play them).” 

This comes after Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone repeatedly mocked the Lakers in June, stating, “If anybody is still talking about the Lakers in the NBA Finals, that’s on them. They’ve gone fishing. We’re still playing.”

Denver Nuggets’ ‘Walk the Talk’

Despite much talk about their past season and the surprise rivalry with the Lakers, Nuggets standout guard Jamal Murray is focused on the next season. 

“It’s a new year. We’ve got to do it again. That year was great. It was a great summer, but ring night is Game 1, so we have to move on. Game 1 is Tuesday,” he said. “Ring night is great. Banner night, it’s amazing, but we’ve got to win a game at the end of the day.”

The Denver Nuggets’ offseason was rather quiet, with little to no additions to their championship lineup. However, the defending champions lost several important players from their record-breaking 16-4 postseason run.

Bruce Brown, a crucial player in the championship run, signed a big-money contract with the Indiana Pacers, while Jeff Green also left free agency to join the Houston Rockets.

Although the changes may have harmed Denver’s depth, the team was able to secure the services of Zeké Nnaji through a contract extension, veteran Justin Holiday and Reggie Jackson were signed to boost backcourt depth, and the Nuggets’ sharpshooting rookie Julian Strawther.

The Nuggets have no reason to be concerned as they have the league’s big-man beast Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray, as well as Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to round out probably the best starting five in the league. 

The greater concern is whether the Los Angeles Lakers will ruin Jokic’s and the Denver Nuggets’ ring night, or the Nuggets will maintain their strong play to begin the season.

Golden State Warriors vs Phoenix Suns

At 10 a.m. (PH Time), Chris Paul and the Golden State Warriors will meet the stacked Kevin Durant-led Phoenix Suns in a clash of former players at the Chase Center.

Fun times coming as Kevin Durant returns to the Bay Area, but in a new outfit, and Chris Paul returns to Phoenix after being traded to the Washington Wizards for Bradley Beal during the offseason. 

Paul was eventually acquired by the Warriors, setting up an exciting season-opening revenge game against his former team after joining the NBA’s best trio in Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, who is out for the opener.

The Warriors lost a few key players this summer, including 2022 NBA champion Jordan Poole, as well as solid guard Donte DiVincenzo (Knicks) and former two-way player Ty Jerome (Cavaliers) in free agency.

The Suns, on the other side, had a busy offseason, acquiring All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal, which surprised the whole NBA community.

Under their new head coach, 2020 NBA champion Frank Vogel, Phoenix will be led by heavyweights such as Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and offseason acquisition Bradley Beal. 

Which teams will get their first win of the season? Let us all find out on the opening night!

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