The Nuggets get one last chance to savor their 2023 NBA championship – the franchise’s first – Tuesday night at Ball Arena.
Players and coaches will receive their championship rings, and the championship banner will rise to the rafters – joining the Avalanche and Mammoth teams that have been immortalized in that manner.
It could be emotional for guys like Michael Malone, who follows in his father’s footsteps as an NBA champion, and Jamal Murray, who invested so much in his comeback from an ACL injury en route to becoming a champion.
Michael Malone plans to keep his championship ring…in his underwear drawer?
The ceremony couldn’t be much better for Nuggets fans, as it will take place in front of the visiting Los Angeles Lakers – perhaps the Nuggets’ singular true rival and the team that this Denver team swept out of the postseason five months ago.
Alas, though, that moment will pass and basketball will be played.
The Nuggets are 4.5-point favorites in the opener. They bring back their entire starting lineup of Murray, Nikola Jokic, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon.
Christian Braun, a spark plug for the Nuggets during last year’s playoffs, returns off of the bench. Fan-favorite Bruce Brown departed for Indiana and a bigger contract, and journeyman Jeff Green left for Houston.
Denver will look for contributions from the young Peyton Watson, and draft day additions Jalen Pickett and Julian Strawther – though likely not on opening night.
Los Angeles returns the NBA’s oldest player in LeBron James along with fellow core players Anthony Davis, Austin Reaves and D’Angelo Russell. The Lakers added depth in the offseason with the acquisitions of guard Gabe Vincent and center Christian Wood.
The primer, courtesy of the Associated Press:
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets
Denver; Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. EDT
FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK NBA LINE: Nuggets -4.5; over/under is 227.5
BOTTOM LINE: The Denver Nuggets host the Los Angeles Lakers in the season opener.
Denver went 53-29 overall and 34-18 in Western Conference action last season. The Nuggets averaged 115.8 points per game while allowing opponents to score 112.5 last season.
Los Angeles went 43-39 overall and 27-25 in Western Conference action during the 2022-23 season. The Lakers averaged 6.4 steals, 4.6 blocks and 13.5 turnovers per game last season.
INJURIES: Nuggets: Vlatko Cancar: out (knee).
Lakers: None listed.