New York, Dec 22 (IANS) The 2020-21 NBA season will begin with a blockbuster opening-night doubleheader with the Golden State Warriors visiting the Brooklyn Nets and defending champions Los Angeles Lakers taking on the intracity rival LA Clippers.
The opening night on Tuesday will see NBA MVPs Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and LeBron James and two-time NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard in action. It will also mark the return of Curry, Durant and Kyrie Irving as the trio look primed to put on a spectacle on Day 1.
Durant’s first game in 18 months (excluding the preseason) — and first as a Net — comes against the team with whom he won two NBA championships and two NBA Finals MVP awards.
“Every drill that I’ve done, I’ve been going as hard as I could. I’ve been in the league for 14 years. Even if I didn’t have an Achilles’, I probably wouldn’t be 100 per cent. So, the wear and tear over time, I guess, but I feel solid,” said Durant.
The Warriors, who finished last in the Western Conference in the 2019-20 season, will hope that Curry and Draymond Green will guide the team’s turnaround with the addition of second overall draft pick James Wiseman and the acquisition of Kelly Oubre Jr. to play alongside three-time All-Star Draymond Green and former number one overall draft pick Andrew Wiggins.
“I never had a time of not playing games for such a long time. I have to figure out what we’re going to do in Milwaukee for Christmas. But other than that, it’s going to be pretty awesome just to be playing basketball again. I’m excited. It’s going to be here before you know it,” said Curry looking forward to the 2020/21 season.
The Nets, on the other hand, who finished seventh in the Eastern Conference last season, are expecting to take a giant leap forward with the return of 10-time All-Star Durant and six-time All-Star Irving. Brooklyn hopes to join the Eastern Conference elite with Jarrett Allen, Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert and Joe Harris under new head coach Steve Nash.
On the other hand, the Lakers and Clippers — the Western Conference’s top two seeds last season — add a new chapter to their budding rivalry. Reigning Sixth Man Award winner Montrezl Harrell has jumped from the Clippers to the Lakers and the Morris twins – Marcus (Clippers) and Markieff (Lakers) – are on opposite sides.
The Lakers begin their title defence with a reshaped roster around James and Anthony Davis. “It is crazy to not be able to celebrate and kind of have a parade with the fans and the city but it is something that we have to just get through and be able to come out and defend our title as well as make sure we stay fresh and be ready for Friday,” said Davis while speaking to reporters last week.
On the other side, Leonard, Paul George and the Clippers enter the season looking to rebound from last season’s loss to the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference semifinals, where LA could not hold a 3-1 series lead and finished one win shy of the franchise’s first Conference finals appearance.