The 2020-21 NBA opening night will tip-off with a star player who missed all of last season. Then LeBron James and the Lakers get their rings.
Parts of the NBA schedule are leaking out — we already knew the Christmas Day games — and on Wednesday the NBA officially announced its opening night contests (Shams Charania of The Athletic broke the story, the league made it official).
At 7 p.m. Eastern the Golden State Warriors travel to Brooklyn to take on the Nets.
At 10 p.m., the Lakers will hoist another banner up to the top of Staples Center before taking on the Clippers.
The Warriors will be on your television a lot this season — they have big names that will draw fans to watch with Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, and the No. 2 pick James Wiseman. But they are not the same team without Klay Thompson (out for the season with a torn Achilles). The Nets should be one of the teams at the top of the East, and reports from training camp and other players in workouts are that Kevin Durant looks amazing, although even Durant knows it doesn’t matter until he steps on the court. The Nets have a healthy Kyrie Irving and a strong supporting cast with Caris LeVert, Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarrett Allen, and on down the line. On paper, Brooklyn is a title contender, opening night we get to see what that would look like on the court.
Lakers vs. Clippers was the matchup everyone expected in the Western Conference Finals last year — including the Lakers — but the Clippers blew a 3-1 lead to the Nuggets as their chemistry issues (on and off the court) were exposed. Now the Clippers get to watch the Lakers get their rings and raise a banner.
Can the Clippers spoil the night? Not really. The Lakers still get rings. But the Clips have some new rotation players, such as Serge Ibaka, and a new coaching staff led by Tyronn Lue looking to change the locker room culture of the team. On paper, the Clippers remain the biggest threat to the Lakers, opening night we start to see if they can live up to that potential.
The NBA also announced the Dec. 23 games: Milwaukee at Boston, then Dallas at Phoenix.
Chrismas Day will see a five-game slate the league confirmed: New Orleans at Miami, Golden State at Milwaukee, Brooklyn at Boston, Dallas at the Los Angeles Lakers, then finally the Los Angeles Clippers at Denver.