NBA opening night is staying west of the Rocky Mountains.
Four headliners from the Western Conference are filling the NBA opening night schedule, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.
Here are a few quick thoughts on these matchups.
• The Chris Paul revenge game is the second game opening night? The NBA is not holding back.
• The Nuggets will raise their banner and get their rings in front of a Lakers team they swept out of the Western Conference Finals. This should be a good show, all four of those games were competitive (Denver was just a +24 for the series), and while the Lakers got a little deeper over the summer, the Nuggets’ depth got a little bit thinner (Bruce Brown and Jeff Green are gone).
• The NBA is not holding back on the opening night star power for opening night: Nikola Jokić, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Devin Booker, Chris Paul, Bradley Beal, Klay Thompson, Jamal Murray.
• No Eastern Conference teams, which is unexpected. No Boston Celtics now with Kristaps Porzingis, one of the more interesting storylines of the upcoming season. No Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks. No Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat (if the Damian Lillard trade had been completed, would that have been different?). No Joel Embiid and the 76ers.
• Expect a lot of schedule leaks and outright releases — Christmas Day games, other opening week games, etc. — over the next week or two, until the NBA releases the full schedule (in mid-August).
• The most interesting things to watch: How many national games do the Heat get (fewer without Lillard, despite a Finals trip)? What about the Clippers, who could still land James Harden? Do we see the Heat, Clippers or 76ers on Christmas Day? Traditionally by August the stars have made their moves and rosters are more settled, but this offseason will be challenging for those trying to set up big television matchups.