To begin the 2019 season, the NBA has gone all out providing great games. When looking at the schedule there are great games everywhere. At the beginning of the season, we don’t know what the teams are going to play like. For that reason, it will be exciting to watch the first week closely. There is more parity than there’s been in a long time and this season is going to be one to remember. In this piece, we will look at some of the biggest games to watch in the opening week.
NBA Opening Week Games To Watch
Taking place at 10:30 PM ET on October 22nd, we will get to witness the first battle for L.A. The Los Angeles Clippers have already ruled out Paul George for the first 10 games. With that said, Kawhi Leonard will make his Clippers debut, and LeBron James and Anthony Davis will team up for the first time on the Los Angeles Lakers.
In a game with so much star power, seeing both teams’ supporting casts will be something worth tracking. Depending on whether or not James actually starts at point guard will determine who else is on the floor at tip-off time. We do know it won’t be Kyle Kuzma, as Kuzma is dealing with an injury and was ruled out. Last year, Kuzma proved himself a lethal scorer averaging 18.7 PPG. Against a team with a lethal scorer of their own in Lou Williams, Kuzma’s absence could prove costly.
Across the country, at 7:30 PM ET on Tuesday the 22nd, two titans of the East will face-off. Over the last four months, both teams underwent significant changes while retaining their core identities. The Boston Celtics most notably changed their point guard, and roll into 2019 with Kemba Walker. The Philadelphia 76ers lost Jimmy Butler but added Josh Richardson and Al Horford. Even though they are cornerstones of their respective franchises, Jayson Tatum and Ben Simmons have a lot to prove this year.
The biggest factor to watch is the 76ers defense. Their projected starting lineup is loaded with defensive talent. In fact, they somehow managed to add more defensive talent to their roster despite losing Jimmy Butler. Boston is still a relatively young team that finished in the middle of the road (14th) in PPG last year. Will they be able to score against this formidable Philly defense?
In my 2020 NBA Western Conference Playoff Predictions piece, these squads finished second and fifth respectively. On Wednesday at 10 PM ET, they will have the chance to prove themselves. That said, the Denver Nuggets could very well be the most complete team in the NBA. Nikola Jokic has improved every season and is going to be the player to watch in this game. Jokic is one of the best floor stretching bigs we’ve ever seen, and his matchup Hassan Whiteside could be one he exploits.
Now $170 million richer, Jamal Murray has huge expectations to go along with his huge payday. He will have to try and control one of the best backcourt duos we’ve seen in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Denver does possess the deeper bench on paper which could come into play if the game is as wild as their playoff games last year. If this game is anything like their classic playoff series last year, buckle up for a late night.
Taking place Wednesday, October 23rd, at 8 PM ET, a battle between last year’s MVP and runner up will take place. Giannis Antetokoumpo will look to make a statement defending his MVP title against a Houston Rockets team featuring two former MVP’s. Last year the Milwaukee Bucks finished first in defensive rating but lost arguably their most valuable defender Malcolm Brogdon in the offseason.
Stopping Russell Westbrook and James Harden is a task easier said than done. The last time they teamed was in 2013, so it will be intriguing to see if they can rekindle the old magic they once had. After suffering a dislocated finger in the preseason, Westbrook is expected to play. How healthy Westbrook is or isn’t could determine the outcome of this game. In this one, both defenses are going to make scoring difficult for the opposition.
To conclude, we head to New Orleans on Monday the 27th at 8 PM ET to look at the new Golden State Warriors. The big story is the number one pick Zion Williamson will not be active for this game or any game for the next 6-8 weeks due to knee surgery. Despite this, there should be plenty of exciting matchups to watch. The main one being Stephen Curry vs Jrue Holiday.
Curry is expected to carry the Warriors on offense without his splash brother Klay Thompson. And now that Williamson is out, the New Orleans Pelicans are once again Jrue Holiday’s team. The Warriors may not be the same offensive firepower anymore, but their goal this year is still to win a championship. The Pelicans are looking to make the postseason for just the third time in nine seasons. Three former number two overall draft picks, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and D’Angelo Russell will also make their debuts for their new teams. Two teams that have undergone complete makeovers will face off in what should be an electric crowd in New Orleans.
There will be exciting games to watch all year
When looking at the schedule, intriguing games to watch pop up everywhere. The NBA is the most wide-open it’s been since the Warriors dynasty began in 2015. The league is in a state where almost every team has a star duo to watch. Although the games above are the most eye-popping, there are plenty of incredible games to watch in the opening week and throughout the season.
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