After more than four months of long wait, the new NBA season is finally here and was kickstarted by a double-header, one between Nikola Jokić’s Denver Nuggets and LeBron James’s Los Angeles Lakers at Ball Arena while another saw Kevin Durant’s Phoenix Suns took on Stephen Curry’s Golden State Warriors at the Chase Center last night. The first matchup was a rematch of last season’s Western Conference Finals, where Nikola Jokić’s Nuggets cleanly swept LeBron James’s Purple and Gold, and this time it was the defending NBA Champions who prevailed once again with a score line of 119-107 at home.
Nuggets Dominated Lakers at Home
The Nuggets won their first ever Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy when they defeated Eastern Conference’s Miami Heat 4-1 in the NBA Finals last year, and they are certainly not interested to let that precious throne go away in the 2023/2024 NBA Basketball Season. Their title-winning starting five that consist of Nikola Jokić, Aaron Gordon, Michael Porter Jr., Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Jamal Murray were again selected by by head coach Michael Malone to start the match, while Lakers, who experienced a busy off-season with player transactions, saw forward Taurean Prince insert into the game as a starter.
The defending NBA Champions showed no mercy against their last season’s West Finals opponents in this match despite the latter’s early lead in the opening three to four minutes. With Nikola Jokić’s strong presence and all-around abilities, Nuggets closed their gap on Lakers and soon found their lead in the match, racing to a 34-20 advantage after 12 minutes of play in the first quarter. It is worth mentioning the Lakers were only able to manage 4 points in the final six and a half minutes in Q1.
The second quarter was more of a balanced matchup between the two heavyweights in the Western Conference, and Los Angeles Lakers’s Anthony Davis went back and forth against the mighty Nikola Jokić. With AD’s 17 points in the first two quarters, the visiting Purple and Gold reduced the defending champions’ lead to a single digit before the half-time break, ending the half with Nikola Jokić’s team leading 63-54.
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AD Fell to a Scoring Slump in the Second Half
However, AD’s inability to replicate his success in the first half is the very reason why Lakers eventually fell to Nuggets after 48 minutes of playing time. Despite the Purple and Gold limiting Nuggets to 56 points with their tighten defence, scoring slumps saw them never be able to catch up with Nikola Jokić’s side. Five-point gap was the closest LeBron’s team could get against the defending champions in this match, as Nikola Jokić’s Nuggets emerged victorious with a score line of 119-107.
The 2023 NBA Finals MVP finished the game with a triple-double (29 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists), with two of his teammates also scoring more than 20 points in this match (Caldwell-Pope and Murray). Lakers, on the other hand, only had LeBron notching 21 points in their season opening loss. The defeat was Lakers’s seventh straight season opener loss, prompting fans to quickly mock them for a slow start into the 2023/2024 NBA Season.
If you are also a fan of football (Soccer), feel free to check here out on how 20-time English league champions Manchester United emotionally defeated F.C. Copenhagen to earn their first UEFA Champions League win in 2023/2024. Read this article for the full details about the Matchday 3 matchup in the European club football competition.
Great win and an even better night
Goodnight, Wuggets Wation 💤 pic.twitter.com/2duxX92iHD
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) October 25, 2023
Nikola Jokić’s 106th Triple-Double in Regular Seasons
Nikola Jokić’s triple-double last night was his 106th triple-double in his NBA regular season career, making him to be one triple-double from breaking into the top five players in the all-time leading triple-double leaders in regular seasons. LeBron and legendary point guard Jason Kidd are the next to beat for Nikola Jokić at 107th triple-double each.
After the game, Nikola Jokić spoke about his team’s chances of retaining the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy this year, and the Serbian centre was optimistic, saying that “We have the opportunity. You never know what the season’s gonna bring. But our offense was good and our defense was good. “If we play like this tonight, I think we have a chance. Why not?”
LeBron James on Minute Restriction in the 2023/2024 NBA Season
Entering the 2023/2024 NBA Season and his 21st year as an NBA player, Los Angeles Lakers’s LeBron James is now the oldest player in the league, and head coach Darvin Ham had revealed in an interview that the 38-year-old player will be undergoing a minute restriction plan to just 28-30 minutes per game to keep him in his optimal conditions.
“In all likelihood, yes. Again, it’s gonna be a day-by-day process, gauged on how he’s feeling, getting communication from him, our training staff and medical staff. We communicate and collaborate … and again, it’s easy with him. You get caught up in the emotion of the game and you tend to forget, and you want him to play in these long stretches. But in order for him to be as effective as possible, we have to be mindful of the minute output and how long his stretches are.”
The minute restriction plan certainly raised many eyebrows that LeBron James is calling it a career in Year 21 of his NBA resume. However, given that his son, 19-year-old Bronny James Jr., might be entering the NBA next season and that he is 14 months away from being 40, the programme will extend LeBron’s longevity in the league to eventually playing alongside his son for his ultimate dream in the NBA.