The NBA season is back. Three Tuesday night games headline the opening night of the season, including one involving the defending champion San Antonio Spurs.
Here’s what you need to know about NBA’s opening night.
1. There Are Just Three Games
There will be three games for opening night. In an 8 p.m. Eastern Time double-header, the New Orleans Pelicans host the Orlando Magic, while the Dallas Mavericks visit the San Antonio Spurs. The night ends with the Los Angeles Lakers hosting the Houston Rockets at 10:30.
The latter two games are on TNT, while the New Orleans-Orlando matchup will be on the NBA League Pass.
2. No Lebron James
For the first time in seven years, LeBron James will not be featured on opening night. This is unusual given the hype surrounding his return to Cleveland this season.
Lebron and his Cleveland teammates won’t get their season started until Thursday night, when they host the New York Knicks.
3. Spurs Get Championship Rings
The Spurs will receive last season’s championship rings in a ceremony to open up their game against the Mavericks. In last season’s Finals, the Spurs dominated the Miami Heat.
The Spurs will look to repeat as back-to-back champs for the first time in franchise history this season.
4. Kobe Bryant vs. Dwight Howard
For the first time since Dwight Howard’s unsightly departure from the Lakers after the 2012-13 season, he will face Kobe Bryant head-to-head. Even though the two won’t guard each other, there will likely be a battle brewing between the two – one that the Lakers fans won’t be quiet about either.
Howard has faced the Lakers three times since joining the Rockets in July 2013, but because Bryant has missed those matchups because of injuries, Tuesday’s game will mark the first time both players will face each other since Howard left Los Angeles.
The rivalry will also likely be fueled by comments Lakers coach Byron Scott Monday night.
“My outside perspective is Kobe is a real serious guy and wants to win championships,” Scott, the Lakers’ first-year head coach, said after his team’s practice at their facility Monday. “I don’t know if Dwight is that serious about it. I know No. 24 is. I think that probably was the clash.”
5. Opening Night Win Leads to Success
It might simply be coincidence, but there’s an aura surrounding teams that played in opening night as they make their playoff push. In 11 of the last 12 years, at least one team that appeared in that year’s finals played on opening night. In nine of those years, the team that would end up winning the title was featured. Three of the four teams playing Tuesday night.