Rivalry matches grace opening of new NBA season

October 17, 2018 - 1:06 PM
Oct 16, 2018; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics center Al Horford (42) is guarded by Philadelphia 76ers forward Robert Covington (33) during the first half at TD Garden. (Reuters via USA Today/Greg M. Cooper)

The opening of the 2018-2019 NBA season will be graced by opening matches featuring old foes and title contenders.

Reigning champions Golden State Warriors will face off against usual rivals Oklahoma City Thunder in first big match-up in the Western Conference.

Warriors’ two-time finals most valuable player Kevin Durant will once again suit up against his former team, whom he left for the Warriors after the 2016 post-season.

Oklahoma star guard Russel Westbrook, Durant’s former partner-in-crime turned-sworn enemy however will not suit up in the opening bout. The 2017 MVP has been asked to sit out the opening game as he is still recovering from the arthoscopic knee surgery he underwent in September 2018.

The two franchises were regular contenders in post-season in the 2010s until their fateful Western conference finals series in 2016.

The Thunder were up 3-1 against Golden State, who had months earlier just closed out the regular season with a historic 73-9 record, but two-time MVP Steph Curry led the Warriors in the next three games to win the series.

The dramatic takeover in that series, as well as Durant’s transfer to the Warriors in free agency later that year, has intensified Thunder fans’ ire for the Bay Area-based squad. Without Durant’s services, the Thunder have struggled to return to the top of the West and pose any credible threat to the Warriors’ dynasty.

The Eastern conference meanwhile will see the Boston Celtics go toe-to-toe against the Philadelphia 76ers in front of the Boston home crowd.

The opening day matchup is a rematch of the 2018 Eastern conference semifinal series between the two squads, which the Celtics won in five games.

The Celtics will be bannered by returning star Gordon Hayward, who sat out the entirety of the previous season due to injury.

With LeBron James now in Los Angeles, most fans believe that the Eastern conference is headed toward the renaissance of the two squads who dominated from the 60s to the 80s.

Fans in basketball-savvy Philippines are tuning in as a new season unfolds.

The off-season brought about a number of unexpected changes in the balance of power in the league, such as three-time champion LeBron James’ transfer to the Los Angeles Lakers, four-time all-star DeMarcus Cousins’ transfer to the already star-studded Warriors and San Antonio’s unexpected decision to trade two-time Defensive Player of the Year and former finals MVP Kawhi Leonard to the Toronto Raptors for all-star guard DeMar DeRozan.