All thriller, no filler

NBA season tips off with intriguing doubleheader and competition at ‘all-time high’

Nikola Jokic (left) of the defending champion Denver Nuggets and LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers will go head-to-head in a mouth-watering NBA season-opener on Tuesday. USA TODAY SPORTS/REUTERS

The National Basketball Association, together with its 2023-24 season tip-off brand campaign, „Everyone’s Game“, will hit the court and the screen with two mouth-watering matchups on Tuesday night (Wednesday morning, Beijing time).

Symbolizing the „power of basketball to bring people together“, the Everyone’s Game campaign, which will appear in 215 countries and territories, is designed to stir global interest in the coming season.

„We wanted the campaign to reflect the moment the league is in right now as we tip off the 2023-24 season with a wide-open field and competition at an all-time high,“ said the NBA’s chief marketing officer, Tammy Henault.

„The creative (concept) captures the passion and hard work that NBA players put in day in, day out, eliciting emotion and anticipation for an exciting and unpredictable season,“ Henault added.

„Everyone’s Game also has a dual meaning — it speaks to our values of inclusion and symbolizes the power of basketball to bring people together.“

The opening two matches on Tuesday night see the defending champion Denver Nuggets against Los Angeles Lakers followed by another highly anticipated clash between the Phoenix Suns and the Golden State Warriors.

Simmering Lakers

The Nuggets spent the offseason celebrating while the Lakers were simmering.

Denver is in unchartered territory as the reigning NBA champion after an impressive 16-4 run through the postseason last spring. One of the teams in the Nuggets’ path was Los Angeles, who they swept in the Western Conference finals.

The Lakers don’t have to wait for another shot at the Nuggets, but they will have to witness them raise their championship banner when the teams open the NBA season on Tuesday night in Denver.

The Nuggets had never beaten Los Angeles in the playoffs before last season, and while it was a sweep, the games were close. That didn’t stop Denver from relishing the series win, and head coach Michael Malone lit the fuse in the immediate aftermath of the victory.

„If anybody is still talking about the Lakers in the NBA Finals, that’s on them,“ Malone said in June. „They’ve gone fishing. We’re still playing.“

The comment reportedly angered LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and Davis was vocal about Malone’s words providing motivation.

„It was just a lot of talking,“ Davis said on media day earlier this month. „We get it, y’all won, but me and Bron had some conversations. … We can’t wait (to play them).“

The back-and-forth will spill onto the court in the opener, and while the Nuggets have the same starting five that won it all, there have been significant changes. Bruce Brown, one of the key players in the drive to the title, signed a big-money contract with the Indiana Pacers and Jeff Green also left via free agency to join the Houston Rockets.

The moves hurt Denver’s depth, but the team addressed this in the offseason. Zeke Nnaji just signed a contract extension, veteran Justin Holiday and Reggie Jackson were signed to add backcourt depth and the Nuggets drafted sharp-shooting Julian Strawther.

Denver also has the player many consider to be the best in the league in Nikola Jokic. The do-it-all center was the NBA MVP for two straight years before finishing second to Joel Embiid last season and then promptly was named MVP of the Western Conference finals and the NBA Finals.

The Nuggets also have Jamal Murray, who starred in last season’s playoffs, Michael Porter Jr., Aaron Gordon and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to round out arguably the top starting five in the league. Christian Braun, who as a rookie worked his way into valuable playing time in the postseason, is expected to have a bigger role off the bench.

The Lakers have retooled, adding Gabe Vincent, Cam Reddish and Taurean Prince to an experienced roster. James, who turns 39 on Dec 30, is entering his 21st season but still plays at a high level while Davis, 30, is entering his 12th season.

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