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NBA announces an all-West opening night schedule

Hang tight. Late October will be here before you know it.

Denver Nuggets v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Four Photo by Allen Berezovsky/Getty Images

For those of us tired of the endless nothingburgers that are trade request updates and want to see actual NBA basketball, hope is on the horizon. The league announced its opening night schedule for October 24, relayed to The Athletic’s Shams Charania:

Nuggets-Lakers and Warriors-Suns: those are two exciting matchups. Conspicuously absent, though, are any teams from the Eastern Conference, as we are instead looking at the four teams who comprised the Western Conference semifinals in the spring. Getting the defending champion Denver Nuggets, with Nikola Jokic squaring off against the Q-Rating bonanza that is LeBron James and his Lakers teammates, is a no-brainer. Then, Steph Curry is always a tremendous draw, and everyone will be intrigued by the new Big Three of Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal. Honestly, no complaints here from an entertainment standpoint.

Still, is it a subtle nod by the league that the West is the superior conference this season? Or is it more that two of the top four teams from the East a year ago are stuck in trade request limbo? Last year’s Finals representative from the East, the Miami Heat, are stuck in a high-stakes game of chicken with the Portland Trail Blazers over Damian Lillard. The Philadelphia 76ers are playing wait-and-see with James Harden. I’m not even sure Sixers fans want to watch the Sixers right now; the league isn’t bringing those bad vibes anywhere near the opening night showcase.

We’ve come a long way from the Sixers and Celtics opening things up for the league a year ago. Oh, and if you’re wondering about new wunderkind Victor Wembanyama, he’ll reportedly be making his NBA debut one night later on October 25, per Marc Stein:

NBA basketball is (10 and a half weeks from being) back! Let’s go!

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