NBA opening night 4

The Must-See Moments From NBA Opening Night

The NBA is back!

The 2022-23 season tips off with a doubleheader. First up, the Philadelphia 76ers take on the Boston Celtics in an early clash of Eastern Conference contenders. The Celtics are the defending conference champs, while the Sixers are looking to end a Finals drought that has lasted more than two decades.

Out West, the defending champion Golden State Warriors will receive their rings after winning their fourth title in the past eight seasons. Looking to spoil the celebration will be the Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James, who begins the season needing 1,326 points to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s career scoring leader.

We’ll have complete coverage from Boston and San Francisco with highlights, takeaways and the moments that matter all night long.

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NBA opening night

Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics

When we last saw the Celtics, they fell to the Warriors in the NBA Finals. However, that team was led by Ime Udoka, who has been suspended for the entire 2022-23 season. Tuesday’s opener against Philadelphia will mark the regular-season NBA coaching debut of Joe Mazzulla, the 34-year-old former assistant who has been with Boston for three seasons.

This will be the first opener as a Sixer for James Harden, who was acquired by Philadelphia at the trade deadline last season. He signed a new two-year contract this offseason, taking a pay cut from his player option to give the Sixers the cap space to add PJ Tucker, who won a title with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021 and helped the Miami Heat reach the conference finals last season.

Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State Warriors

The Warriors enter the season looking to become the NBA’s first back-to-back champion since… the Warriors. Golden State pulled off the feat in 2017 and 2018, back when Kevin Durant was starring in the Bay Area. Now it’s Andrew Wiggins who is teaming with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, and Wiggins just signed a contract extension that will keep him with the Warriors through the 2026-27. What that extension — and another four-year deal for Jordan Poole — means for Draymond Green remains to be seen. Green made headlines this preseason when he punched Poole during practice, and is still waiting on a contract extension of his own.

While the Warriors were the last team standing last season, the Lakers failed to even make the postseason for the second time in four years with LeBron James on the roster. James enters this season not only trying to return to the playoffs, but looking to break the NBA’s all-time points record. He’ll once again partner with Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, the latter of whom spent the entire offseason in trade rumors and came off the bench in his final preseason appearance — something he hasn’t done in a regular-season game since his rookie season.

NBA opening night 1

JTA Will Get His ring, but Walker Won’t be Watching

Juan Toscano-Anderson says he purchased floor seats for the first time in his life so his mom could see his ring ceremony tonight. I asked him how much: “Too much.” A little more prying: “Five figures.” And figures to be a priceless moment for his family.

— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) October 18, 2022

Lonnie Walker doesn’t plan on taking in the Warriors’ ring ceremony as a spectator. He will be a little preoccupied with prepping to guard the 2022 Finals MVP

— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) October 18, 2022

A Sign of Things to Come on the 3-Point Shooting Foul?

Los Angeles Lakers forward Matt Ryan almost drew a 3-point shooting foul on Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry with less than 5 minutes left in the third quarter, but the replay indicated he was out of bounds before the shot. The near-miss fits into a theme for Tuesday’s opening night games. Klay Thompson drew a 3-point shooting foul in the first minute of the first quarter. Curry drew another 3-point shooting foul and four-point play from Patrick Beverley in the fourth quarter. In the Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics game earlier Tuesday, James Harden drew three in the first quarter, and Jaylen Brown drew one early in the second quarter.

Last season, there was a rule change and larger emphasis from the league on making it more difficult to draw a foul on a 3-pointer. Does the outpouring of 3-point shooting fouls on opening night indicate perhaps this emphasis has been rolled back for this season already?

— Andre’ Snellings

NBA opening night 2

Strength in Numbers For Warriors

Warriors coach Steve Kerr played 11 players in the first half, using all but two of the active players on his roster. Before the game, Kerr said a 10-man rotation was all but certain and an 11-man rotation was possible. Stephen Curry led all Warriors with 17 minutes played, while starter Andrew Wiggins and sixth man Jordan Poole played 16. Draymond Green played 13 and James Wiseman played 11.

All other players played in single digits but still found a way to contribute.

Depth is something Kerr and the Warriors boasted about heading into opening night. Kerr said for now he’s uncomfortable playing Green and Klay Thompson their usual minutes because of their conditioning. Additionally, Andre Iguodala has still not yet been cleared to play, so having a deep bench is coming in handy.

However, Kerr knows he will eventually have to cut his rotation down. Pregame, Kerr said he has already had conversations with his bench players that some of them will see consistent playing time while others will be in and out of the lineup.

— Kendra Andrews

Anthony Davis Playing Big

One quarter into the season, Darvin Ham’s experiment of playing Anthony Davis as the starting center is paying dividends for the Lakers. The on-court results of previous seasons have indicated, both through scouting and through analytics, that Davis has more impact at the five, despite his expressed preference for playing power forward.

In the first quarter Tuesday against the Warriors, Davis was able to consistently ISO with slower-footed defenders and get to the rim at will. He has 10 points on 6 shots in 10 minutes. The Lakers also have more flexibility with Davis at center and LeBron James at power forward. That lineup gives Los Angeles a frontline with traditional size that can do everything on the court at both ends. It also allows Ham to surround James and Davis with three perimeter players who are more dynamic, rather than using another, more offensively limited 7-footer.

— Andre’ Snellings

Westbrook in the Lakers’ Starting Five

After a one-game experiment with Russell Westbrook coming off the bench in the preseason finale, Los Angeles Lakers coach Darvin Ham went back with Westbrook in the first unit in the regular-season opener.

And Ham made it sound like it was a group he will continue to start for a stretch.

“We don’t want to be one of those teams — and you very rarely see that in the NBA — where teams are swaying according to who their opponent is starting,” Ham said during his pregame remarks. “We won’t chase matchups until it’s in the mode of a more strategic point of the game, more strategic scenario as the game gets into the latter stages. Then you’ll see us try to match up according to what the game tells us to do. But obviously, we’re going to establish a starting five.”

Warriors Get Their Hardware

Stephen Curry stood to the side, emphatically cheering as he watched each of his teammates receive their rings. As he walked toward center court to collect his, MVP chants broke out throughout Chase Center.

“Hold up,” Curry told them. “We have some other work to do before that.”

“This is a very special night,” he added. “From Game 6 in 2019 in Oracle to Game 6 of 2022, it’s been a very long journey.”

Curry also took a moment to wish Brittney Griner — a WNBA player for the Phoenix Mercury — a happy birthday. Griner has been wrongfully detained in Russia for eight months.

Following the presentation of the rings — a 16-carat, yellow diamond ring — a video from 2010 of owner Joe Lacob saying the Warriors needed more banners played on the jumbotron.

Drake’s “Big Rings” blared from the speakers as their seventh championship banner — their fourth in the past eight years — was raised.

— Kendra Andrews

NBA opening night 3

Celtics Running Wild on Break

Through three quarters, the Celtics hold a commanding 22-2 edge in fast-break points. Boston has made an effort to get out and run at every opportunity, and has taken full advantage of James Harden’s spotty effort in transition defense to strike early and often in this game.

Especially while Robert Williams III is out, Boston is going to have to use its speed and quickness to make up for its lack of size. The Celtics have done so tonight, and that’s why they enter the fourth quarter with a 10-point lead.

— Tim Bontemps

This article was originally published on ESPN.

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