2023 NBA Season Opener: Bet on the Nuggets to Beat the Lakers
The NBA has released its 2023-24 schedule and the opening night game on TNT will be dynamite.
The Nuggets and Lakers will face off Oct. 24 (7:30 p.m. ET) in Denver in a rematch of last season’s Western Conference Finals.
It will also be Ring Night for the reigning champions so Ball Arena in downtown Denver will be rocking like a concert at Red Rocks.
The question is: How have the league’s defending champs fared in their openers the following season?
The answer is very well, which makes sense because they're pumped after getting that jewelry and seeing the banners and the festivities and all of it.
All told, since 1946-47, NBA defending champions are 60-16 (78.947%) in regular-season openers.
In the last 20 years, since the 2002-23 season, it’s 80 percent (16-4).
2002-03 San Antonio Won 83-82 vs. Phoenix
2003-04 Detroit Won 87-79 vs. Houston
2004-05 San Antonio Won 102-91 vs. Denver
2005-06 Miami Lost 108-66 vs. Chicago
2006-07 San Antonio Won 106-97 vs. Portland
2007-08 Boston Won 90-85 vs. Cleveland
2008-09 L.A. Lakers Won 99-92 vs. L.A. Clippers
2009-10 L.A. Lakers Won 112-110 vs. Houston
2010-11 Dallas Lost 105-94 vs. Miami
2011-12 Miami Won 120-107 vs. Boston
2012-13 Miami Won 107-95 vs. Chicago
2013-14 San Antonio Won 101-100 vs. Dallas
2014-15 Golden State Won 111-95 vs. New Orleans
2015-16 Cleveland Won 117-88 vs. New York
2016-17 Golden State Lost 122-121 vs. Houston
2017-18 Golden State Won 108-100 vs. Oklahoma City
2018-19 Toronto Won 130-122 (OT) vs. New Orleans
2019-20 L.A.Lakers Loss 116-109 vs. L.A. Clippers
2020-21 Milwaukee Won 127-104 vs. Brooklyn Nets
2021-22 Golden State Won 123-109 vs. L.A. Lakers
2022-23 Denver TBD vs. L.A.
With that in mind, it would be wise to jump on the Nuggets now.
The Lakers opened against the defending champion Warriors last season and got clobbered 123-109.
Will this season be different? Doubt it.
Even though, as NBA.com’s Shaun Powell writes:
“The Nuggets whisked the Lakers into the offseason and during the process of that sweep, coach Michael Malone constantly harped on the public’s fascination with the Lakers and perceived disrespect of Denver.
That theme followed all the way through the Nuggets’ championship victory celebration and drew the amusement/annoyance of LeBron James. Now, L.A. gets an early chance to poke the championship bear (to paraphrase Dillon Brooks) and earn a bit of satisfaction.”
So you have to ask yourself: Will LeBron be in beast mode and put up a monster game? Probably. But I still don’t think it will be enough for the Lakers to win.
But the Nuggets will want to start a possible repeat with a beatdown of the Lakers.
I’m already on the record as saying the Nuggets will win back-to-back titles and it all starts at home Oct. 24.
Denver head coach Michael Moore is also on the record saying: “We’re not satisfied. I've got news for everybody out there. We're not satisfied with one. We want more."
And, damn, are the Nuggets equipped to repeat. They’re a young, tight-knit group that has its entire starting five – Nikola Jokic (28 years old), Jamal Murray (26), Aaron Gordon (27), Michael Porter Jr. (24) and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (30) – back for this season.
Los Angeles Lakers at Denver (-5) (Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023)
I don’t think that’s enough points. This will be a statement game for the Nuggets
However, in closing, if you feel more comfortable going with the moneyline (-210), do it.
I’ll be surprised if Denver doesn’t come out like gangbustin’, dynasty dreamin’ badasses and show the Lakers who’s boss out West.