When the NBA released the regular season schedule, the Los Angeles Lakers were put on the road against the Denver Nuggets on Ring Night to kick off the 2023-24 season. With all the theatrics between both sides throughout the summer, it made sense for this matchup to take place on Day 1 of the season.
The Nuggets had never beaten L.A. in a playoff series until last postseason when they swept the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. It was clear that Denver was the better team due to the offensive firepower and chemistry they possessed, and the offseason goal for the Purple and Gold was to add a bit more scoring alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
This is now the second season in a row that L.A. is watching a Ring Night, last season being against the Golden State Warriors. There’s no doubt the Lakers are looking to spoil the Nuggets’ special day to win an Opening Night matchup for the first time since 2016.
However, head coach Darvin Ham is focused on his team and how he can put them in the best position to win a championship, via Mark Medina of Sportskeeda:
“Nah, I mean our biggest thing is we’re not emotional about any type of statements or whatever. We’re passionate about being the best version of ourselves and they’re [Nuggets] one of the 29 teams that we’re going to have to do deal with along our journey. We want to make sure we go in there with a passion to be great for us, not to prove to the world that we can beat the Nuggets. But, be passionate about what we want to be as the Los Angeles Lakers and they’re just one of the 29 teams that we got to face on our way to try and achieve the goal we are trying to achieve.”
It will certainly be a hostile environment and most likely sold-out crowd in Denver with a lot of energy and emotion tied into the game, but Ham believes that the circumstances won’t add more ‘juice’ to the way his team approaches the game:
“I mean, we got champions on our roster and coaching staff. So, we just, you know, little extra bit of time before we get a chance to step out there and do what we need to do. But, it is what it is.”
After getting swept in the Conference Finals, the Lakers and Nuggets have traded their fair share of comments through the offseason, but Ham is focused on putting his team in the best position to win.
The Western Conference is going to be competitive and the regular season is going to matter even more than last season. Every night is going to be a grind for the L.A. in order to get back to where they were last postseason, and it starts on Tuesday against Denver.
D’Angelo Russell hoping for win but downplays significance of Lakers’ Opening Night matchup with Nuggets
The starting point guard for the Lakers D’Angelo Russell seems to share a similar mindset as Ham. He is obviously hoping for a win to kick off the regular season but downplayed the significance of the matchup against the defending champions.
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