On Tuesday night, the NBA kicked off the 2021-2022 season with two high-profile matchups. In this topsy-turvy year of sports, the beginning of a new season comes just three months after the NBA championship game in July.
That quick turnaround has been exciting for fans, especially with the new season starting off with games featuring the current championship title holders, the Milwaukee Bucks, as well the perennial favorite Los Angeles Lakers featuring a new supporting lineup.
Throw in the highly ranked Brooklyn Nets and Golden State Warriors and you’ve got a recipe for a thrilling night of basketball.
So, how did these top-ranked teams perform? Check out this recap of the highs and lows of each game.
Bucks begin season with a bang
The Milwaukee Bucks kicked off the season in a game against the Brooklyn Nets. With just 13 weeks since they captured their first championship in 50 years, the Bucks came out with something to prove.
Giannis Antetokounmpo continued his reign as the Bucks star player with 32 points and 14 rebounds, while Khris Middleton, Pat Connaughton each dropped 20 points.
Giannis put on a show on the Bucks' ring night 💍 pic.twitter.com/Ph0tHyK07k
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) October 20, 2021
Jrue Holiday started off strong, but had to sit out the second half due to an heel injury.
Jordan Nwora also looks to be a strong contender to become a breakout star following his rookie season. In just 26 minutes on the court, he racked up 15 points and six rebounds.
That strong showing kept the Nets in check, despite the fact that they’re one of the favored teams for a shot at the 2022 NBA championship.
Nets star Kevin Durant slipped right back into his role as a team leader with 32 points and 11 rebounds. James Harden added 20 points, and Patty Mills also stood out in a strong debut for Brooklyn following 10 seasons for the Spurs.
— NBA (@NBA) October 20, 2021
The Brooklyn team strung together some impressive runs, but the Bucks retained their lead and closed the game with a 127-104 win.
Noticeably absent was Kyrie Irving, the Nets’ guard who has garnered plenty of headlines in recent weeks for his refusal to get the COVID vaccine.
That makes him ineligible to play over half the team’s games this year (vaccination is required for the matchups in New York City due to local mandates). Team managers decided he wouldn’t be permitted to play part-time, so for now, the Nets are playing without him.
Lakers fall short with a new lineup
Next up was a California showdown between the Golden State Warriors and the L.A. Lakers.
The Lakers relied heavily on Lebron James and Anthony Davis, who put up a combined total of 67 points and each earned a double-double for the night.
Despite the L, LeBron looked REAL NICE against the Warriors 💪
— Overtime (@overtime) October 20, 2021
Despite the hype around the new-look Lakers, few of the nine new players left much of an impression in Tuesday night’s game.
Kent Bazemore had an impressive performance, clearly understanding the assignment to stick tight to his former teammate Stephen Curry and limit his shooting opportunities.
But otherwise, the team largely fell flat. The most disappointing performance came from Russell Westbrook.
In his first game with the Lakers, Westbrook put up a measly eight points and five rebounds.
The Lakers held the lead at several points in the game, but ultimately, the Warriors battled their way back every time.
Despite Bazemore’s best efforts, Curry still secured a triple-double with 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists.
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) October 20, 2021
Additionally, Jordan Poole had an impressive 20-point run, and the Warriors finished out with a dominating fourth quarter and a final score of 121-114.
Looking ahead for the 2021-2022 NBA season
In upcoming games, Lakers fans will be looking to see if the new faces on the team can hold their own alongside stars like James and Davis.
The Warriors have started off strong, which bodes well for a potential championship run later on.
But they also have competition from the Bucks, who clearly aim to come out strong against their opponents this season.
Meanwhile, the Nets need to show that they can perform without Irving, especially with no sign that he plans to change his vaccination status anytime soon.
As for Wednesday night, the following NBA matchups are on the schedule:
- Pacers vs. Hornets
- Celtics vs. Knicks
- Bulls vs. Pistons
- Magic vs. Spurs
- Nuggets vs. Suns
- Wizards vs. Raptors
- 76ers vs. Pelicans
- Rockets vs. Timberwolves
- Thunder vs. Jazz
- Kings vs. Trail Blazers
- Cavaliers vs. Grizzlies