How Recent Champions Have Fared On NBA Opening Night

How Recent Champions Have Fared On NBA Opening Night
Fact Checked by Michael Peters

The Denver Nuggets kick off their NBA title defense tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers with a shot at continuing a recent hot streak defending league champs have experienced.

NBA champions have gone 10-3 on opening night since 2010, with each of the last two franchises to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy capturing a win in their regular season opener. When the Nuggets and Lakers tip off on TNT at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Denver will do so as a 5-point favorite on Caesars Sportsbook Colorado, with an over/under of 228.5 total points.

Ahead of Denver’s 2023-24 opener, BetColorado.com broke down how other recent league champs have fared in their first contest of the year.

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Recent NBA Champs On Opening Night

Year Defending Champ Opening Night Score
2022Golden StateWarriors 123, L.A. Lakers 109
2021MilwaukeeBucks 127, Brooklyn 104
2020L.A. LakersL.A. Clippers 116, Lakers 109
2019TorontoRaptors 130, New Orleans 122 OT
2018Golden StateWarriors 109, Oklahoma City 100
2017Golden StateHouston 122, Warriors 121
2016ClevelandCavs 117, New York 88
2015Golden StateWarriors 111, New Orleans 95
2014San AntonioSpurs 101, Dallas 100
2013MiamiHeat 107, Chicago 95
2012MiamiHeat 120, Boston 107
2011DallasMiami 105, Dallas 94
2010L.A. LakersLakers 112, Houston 110

The Nuggets championship odds are +550, third in the NBA behind Boston and Milwaukee (+400).

Recent Champs Thrived On Opening Night

The last NBA champ to falter in its season opener was the 2021 Lakers, who lost at home to their crosstown rivals L.A. Clippers 116-109. The only other defending champs to lose in their season opener since 2010 were the 2017-18 Golden State Warriors, who lost to Houston (122-121) and the 2011-12 Dallas Mavericks, who lost to Miami in an NBA Finals rematch, 105-94. Other than that, it’s been smooth sailing for defending champs since 2010, with an average winning margin of 13.7 points.

Denver will look to add to that collection of Game 1 winners Tuesday, picking up where the franchise left off last postseason, when they swept the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. The Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic is the top pick at Colorado betting apps for NBA Most Valuable Player at +450 odds. Dallas’ Luka Doncic and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo are tied for second at +600.

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Author

Christopher Boan has been covering sports and sports betting for more than seven years, including stops at ArizonaSports.com, the Tucson Weekly and the Green Valley News.

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