After what seemed like an eternity of an offseason, the NBA is back. On Tuesday, October 22nd the 2019-20 NBA season — one of the most anticipated in recent memory — will officially tipoff with a double-header between four must-watch teams. For many, NBA opening night might as well be Christmas morning, and it has finally arrived.
NBA Opening Night is Here
Though only four fanbases will get to see their respective teams play Tuesday night, NBA fans around the globe will still surely rejoice in seeing the league return for the new season.
In the first game of the season, the defending champion Toronto Raptors will face off against the up-and-coming New Orleans Pelicans at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. The Raptors will be without reigning Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, though, as he fled to the Los Angeles Clippers in the offseason. The new-look Pelicans will feature a great young roster but will be without some talent as well. Zion Williamson — the first overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft — will miss a “period of weeks” to begin the season. When healthy, Williamson will bring a new level of star power to the Big Easy. In his absence, though, young stars such as Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram will have to shine.
The second matchup of the night is the first round of the highly anticipated “Battle of Los Angeles” at Staples Center. The Los Angeles Lakers will take on the Clippers for a battle of Southern California supremacy. In the offseason, the Lakers added Anthony Davis to play alongside LeBron James. The Clippers won the offseason, though, landing both Leonard and Paul George. The matchup will feature four of the best players in the entire NBA, making for must-watch television on opening night.
Toronto Raptors vs. New Orleans Pelicans Breakdown
Inside the Opening Night Bout
The Raptors and Pelicans are two teams heading in vastly different directions. Though the Raptors are just months removed from celebrating their first NBA title, there is not nearly as much excitement for the future as there was a year ago. The departure of Leonard has turned the Raptors from title contenders to playoff contenders. On the other hand, the Pelicans turned a disgruntled Davis into a plethora of assets from the Lakers. Add in Williamson and the Pelicans have a very bright future, though they may not be ready to make a serious playoff push just yet.
If nothing else, it will be interesting to see how each team functions in the wake of offseason roster changes. The Raptors will still be a solid Eastern Conference team, though there seems to be no hope of a repeat title. As the Pelicans usher in a new era, developing chemistry between their newly acquired young players is more essential than wins and losses.
The Raptors certainly have the edge in this one, with homecourt advantage and valuable experience and chemistry. They come into the contest as a seven-point favorite and should have no problem reaching that spread.
How, When to Watch
The game will tip at 8 P.M. ET on TNT at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Los Angles Lakers Breakdown
Inside the Battle of Los Angeles
Many consider this matchup to be a preview of the Western Conference Finals. The Clippers come in as title favorites according to NBA general managers, though the Lakers boast their most impressive roster since the early 2000s. Los Angeles has truly become the center of the NBA universe. Though east coast fans may not be fond of the 10:30 ET tipoff time, all NBA die-hard fans will be glued to their screens for this one.
The Lakers missed the playoffs a season ago but added the likes of Davis, Dwight Howard, Danny Green, and Avery Bradley in the offseason. Of course, they shipped Ball, Ingram, and Josh Hart to the Pelicans in order to get Davis, but seemingly still came out on top. They also signed DeMarcus Cousins, but he is sidelined with an ACL injury.
The Clippers made the playoffs last season, but fell to the eventual Western Conference champions, the Golden State Warriors. They were, however, able to steal two games against the stacked Warriors. Though they shipped out Danilo Gallinari and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a return of George and Leonard is worth any price. Their core of the aforementioned plus Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams will surely be one of the best in the league.
The stars will be out Tuesday night, as four superstars will battle it out to see which team truly owns Los Angeles, and, effectively, the NBA. The Lakers come in as 2.5-point favorites but may have a rough time knocking off the Clippers. They will likely have homecourt advantage, despite technically playing a “road” game, and may even get the edge in experience. However, the Clippers only have one chance to set the tone for the season, and a win over the Lakers would be a statement to the entire league.
How, When to Watch
The game will tip at 10:30 ET on TNT at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
UPDATE: Paul George has been ruled out for at least the first 10 games of the season and thus will not play on opening night against the Lakers.
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