NBA Primetime: Opening day preview

The Cavs' title defense begins. AP (file photo)
By Dugout Philippines

MANILA–The National Basketball Association (NBA) will tip off its 71st season on Wednesday (Philippine Time) with three games on opening day. The NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers will host the New York Knicks at 7:30 a.m. (Philippine Time), followed by the second game, the Portland Trail Blazers will host the Utah Jazz at 10 p.m. (Philippine Time). For the third game, the San Antonio Spurs will visit the Golden State Warriors at 10:30 a.m. (Philippine Time) for a matchup of the teams with the league’s best records last season.

Here is a preview of the opening day matchups:

New York at Cleveland: The Cavaliers will receive their championship rings before facing the new-look Knicks, who added former Kia NBA Most Valuable Player Derrick Rose and former Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year Joakim Noah in the offseason. Jeff Hornacek will make his head-coaching debut with New York. Cleveland’s Tyronn Lue will coach his first regular-season opener after taking over as head coach last January and leading the Cavaliers to their first NBA title in franchise history. Four-time Kia NBA MVP LeBron James of Cleveland opens the season needing 114 points to pass Hakeem Olajuwon for 10th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.

Utah at Portland: The Trail Blazers, who have won an NBA-record 15 consecutive regular-season home openers, feature one of the NBA’s best backcourts in two-time All-Star Damian Lillard and 2015-16 Kia NBA Most Improved Player CJ McCollum. The two guards led Portland to its third consecutive playoff appearance last season. The Jazz, looking to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2012, added veterans Boris Diaw, George Hill and Joe Johnson in the offseason to complement a promising young core. Utah’s Gordon Hayward, who averaged a team-high 19.7 points last season, will miss the game with a finger injury.

San Antonio at Golden State: Kevin Durant will make his debut with the Warriors, who signed the four-time scoring champion and 2013-14 Kia NBA MVP after a league-record 73-9 season and a loss to Cleveland in The Finals 2016. Durant joins two-time reigning Kia NBA MVP Stephen Curry and fellow All-Stars Draymond Green and Klay Thompson to give the Golden State a potent offense. The Spurs will have a new look with six-time All-Star Pau Gasol at center in place of NBA legend Tim Duncan, who retired after 19 seasons with San Antonio. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich has a 17-2 record in regular-season openers.

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