On Tuesday night, the 2022–23 season began with a doubleheader. First up, in an early matchup of Eastern Conference contenders, the Boston Celtics upset the Philadelphia 76ers. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 35 points each as they defeated the Sixers 126-117.
Out West, the defending champion Golden State Warriors received their rings after winning their fourth title in the past eight seasons. Looking to spoil the celebration will be the Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James, who begins the season needing 1,326 points to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s career scoring leader.
Here is comprehensive coverage from Boston and San Francisco, including the key moments, takeaways, and highlights.
Strength in numbers for Warriors
Warriors coach Steve Kerr played 11 players in the first half, using all but two of the active players on his roster. Before the game, Kerr said a 10-man rotation was all but certain and an 11-man rotation was possible. Stephen Curry led all Warriors with 17 minutes played, while starter Andrew Wiggins and sixth man Jordan Poole played 16. Draymond Green played 13 and James Wiseman played 11.
All other players played in single digits but still found a way to contribute.
Depth is something Kerr and the Warriors boasted about heading into opening night. Kerr said for now he’s uncomfortable playing Green and Klay Thompson their usual minutes because of their conditioning. Additionally, Andre Iguodala has still not yet been cleared to play, so having a deep bench is coming in handy.
However, Kerr knows he will eventually have to cut his rotation down. Pregame, Kerr said he has already had conversations with his bench players that some of them will see consistent playing time while others will be in and out of the lineup.
Warriors return to large rings and beautiful stuff
I haven’t heard the song in a while, but from 2015 to 2019, when the Warriors made five straight Finals appearances, it served as their unofficial anthem. The two seasons between the Warriors’ Finals appearances were lengthy, as Stephen Curry hinted at during the Warriors’ championship ring presentation on Tuesday night.
But when Drake and Future’s “Big Rings” started playing at Chase Center, it didn’t feel that way. The Warriors have a way of handling any drama that arises, as they have during their dynastic run. All the drama surrounding Draymond Green’s altercation with Jordan Poole simply seemed to vanish into one of the Warriors’ 31 assists that night. On a night when Golden State led by as many as 27 points and for all but the opening three minutes of the game, all of the discussion about the future and whether they’ll be able to afford all of its fundamental players now that Poole and Wiggins have signed long-term extensions felt far away.
That tune has aged well. However, the Warriors are as strong as they have ever been, if not stronger.
James Wiseman nervous before NBA return
Warriors big man James Wiseman — who hasn’t played a regular-season game since April 10, 2021 — told ESPN before Tuesday’s game that he was excited for ring night, but also had butterflies. When asked if it was for ring night or because it was the first season opener he would be playing in since his rookie year in 2020, Wiseman said it was a little bit of both.
To calm his nerves, he said he was planning on turning some music on and hopping in the steam room.
Not 1, not 2, not 3…
We think of the Warriors winning four rings in the Steph Curry era, but the franchise has leaned into their total titles in new signage around the Chase Center. Golden State now has seven — one more than all those chips the Chicago Bulls collected with Michael Jordan.
Anthony Davis putting on a show
The Lakers are seeing positive results from Darvin Ham’s experiment of starting Anthony Davis at centre so far this season. Despite Davis’ stated preference for playing power forward, the on-court results of previous seasons have shown, both via scouting and through analytics, that Davis has more effect at the five.
Davis was able to repeatedly ISO with slower-footed defenders and easily get to the rim against the Warriors in the first quarter on Tuesday. In 10 minutes, he has 10 points on 6 shots. LeBron James at power forward and Davis at centre give the Lakers additional versatility. With that lineup, Los Angeles has a frontline with conventional size that is capable of handling every situation on the court from both ends. Additionally, it enables Ham to use three more dynamic perimeter players to surround James and Davis rather than another, less offensively capable 7-footer.
The ceremony ended with performances by Grammy-nominated singer Aloe Blacc and a poem by Boston Poet Laureate Porsha Olayiwola.
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