The must-see moments from NBA Opening Night

The NBA is back!

The 2022-23 season tips off with a doubleheader. First up, the Philadelphia 76ers take on the Boston Celtics in an early clash of Eastern Conference contenders. The Celtics are the defending conference champs, while the Sixers are looking to end a Finals drought that has lasted more than two decades.

Out West, the defending champion Golden State Warriors will receive 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.

We’ll have complete coverage from Boston and San Francisco with highlights, takeaways and the moments that matter all night long.

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Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics

When we last saw the Celtics, they fell to the Warriors in the NBA Finals. However, that team was led by Ime Udoka, who has been suspended for the entire 2022-23 season. Tuesday’s opener against Philadelphia will mark the regular-season NBA coaching debut of Joe Mazzulla, the 34-year-old former assistant who has been with Boston for three seasons.

This will be the first opener as a Sixer for James Harden, who was acquired by Philadelphia at the trade deadline last season. He signed a new two-year contract this offseason, taking a pay cut from his player option to give the Sixers the cap space to add PJ Tucker, who won a title with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2021 and helped the Miami Heat reach the conference finals last season.

Vonleh’s minutes speaks to Celtics’ situation

With Robert Williams III sidelined for the next few months, it’s going to take some creative work from the Celtics to navigate life without one of the best defensive big men in the NBA.

And, in the first five minutes of the 2022-23 NBA season, we have seen the Celtics begin to do just that. First came the decision to start Derrick White, opting to go with a small lineup with Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum at the two forward spots as opposed to opting to play a bigger option alongside Al Horford.

Part of the reason why interim coach Joe Mazzulla, in his first game on the sidelines for the Celtics, has gone with that lineup throughout the preseason, was when the first player off the bench for the Celtics in Tuesday night’s game against the 76ers was journeyman big man Noah Vonleh.

Vonleh, the ninth pick in the 2014 draft, is playing for his eighth team in eight NBA seasons, after spending all of last season playing for the Shanghai Sharks of the Chinese Basketball Association. While he had a strong training camp, the fact Vonleh is playing early minutes for the Celtics is both a sign of how little frontcourt depth Boston has, as well as at least a partial indictment of the chances that former All-Star big man Blake Griffin is going to make any kind of meaningful impact on Boston’s roster moving forward.

Tim Bontemps

Embiid with the massive block

Tatum opens up red hot

Jayson Tatum was ready for the 2022-23 season to begin. He scored 7 of the Celtics’ first 9 points, including this 3-pointer from the corner. Tatum’s career high for a season-opener is 30 points, on Dec. 23, 2021 against the Bucks.

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Blake is in the building

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Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State Warriors

The Warriors enter the season looking to become the NBA’s first back-to-back champion since … the Warriors. Golden State pulled off the feat in 2017 and 2018, back when Kevin Durant was starring in the Bay Area. Now it’s Andrew Wiggins who is teaming with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, and Wiggins just signed a contract extension that will keep him with the Warriors through the 2026-27. What that extension — and another four-year deal for Jordan Poole — means for Green remains to be seen. Green made headlines this preseason when he punched Poole during practice, and is still waiting on a contract extension of his own.

While the Warriors were the last team standing last season, the Lakers failed to even make the postseason for the second time in four years with LeBron James on the roster. James enters this season not only trying to return to the playoffs, but looking to break the NBA’s all-time points record. He’ll once again partner with Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook, the latter of whom spent the entire offseason in trade rumors and came off the bench in his final preseason appearance — something he hasn’t done in a regular-season game since his rookie season.

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