The 2015-2016 NBA season will officially begin today with three games set to tip off tonight.
The Detroit Pistons will clash with the Atlanta Hawks while the Cleveland Cavaliers will take on division foe, Chicago, on the road. The last game of the night will feature the defending NBA champion Golden State battling against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Atlanta vs. Detroit (8:00pm tipoff)
The Hawks finished last season with a franchise best 60-22 record before being bounced out of the playoffs by the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. With the exception of forward DeMarre Carroll, who signed a four year contract worth 60 million dollars with the Toronto Raptors in the offseason, all of the starters from last season will be back.
Head coach Mike Budenholzer is entering his third season with the team since leaving the Spurs coaching staff in 2013 and was recently promoted to President of Basketball Operations in the summer.
The Pistons, meanwhile, are coming off a 32 win season in which they missed the playoffs for the sixth consecutive year. In an effort to keep their nucleus of talent together, Detroit re-signed point guard Reggie Jackson to a max contract worth 80 million dollars over five years. The team also acquired guard Steve Blake from Brooklyn and selected forward Stanley Johnson in the draft.
Cleveland vs. Chicago (8:00pm tipoff)
The Cavs ended their regular season last year with a 53-29 record after getting off to a bumpy start with their new trio of Lebron James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving. Despite developing great chemistry with one another over the course of the season, injuries eventually caught up to the Cavs in the playoffs.
Irving went down with a knee injury that will keep him out for the beginning of this season and Kevin Love’s season ended with a dislocated shoulder against the Celtics. By the time Cleveland got to the NBA Finals, James was basically running a one man show to give the Cavs a chance against Golden State. Despite the efforts of James, MVP Stephen Curry helped his Warriors capture the Larry O’Brien trophy.
For Chicago, new head coach Fred Hoiberg will be making his debut with the team as he tries to help them recover from being bounced out of the Eastern Conference Semifinal by the Cavs last season. Hoiberg has already made his first big move of the season, replacing center and former Gator Joakim Noah with Nikola Mirotic in the team’s starting lineup.
After suffering an orbital fracture one the first day of Bulls training camp and having surgery to repair it, guard Derrick Rose is expected to start for Chicago in tonight’s contest.
Golden State vs. New Orleans (10:30 pm tipoff)
The Warriors will return to the hardwood fresh off of winning their first NBA championship in 40 years against the Cavs over the summer in the NBA Finals. Regular season MVP Stephen Curry along with the rest of his teammates will receive their championship rings at home tonight.
The Warriors enter the season with basically the same cast of characters from last season, having re-signed forward Draymond Green to five year contract worth 82 million dollars and unloading former Gator David Lee.
Luke Walton has been named the interim head coach of the team as Steve Kerr continues to recover from offseason back surgery.
The Pelicans will be looking to spoil the party tonight at Oracle Arena as new head coach Alvin Gentry makes his debut with the team. After improving in each of their last four seasons, New Orleans is hoping that they will be continue to their gradual ascension to prominence after coming off of a 45 win season.
Most of their success this season will hinge on the shoulders of their center, Anthony Davis, who was recently signed to a six year contract worth 145 million dollars in the offseason.