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Nuggets Look To Buck Opening Day Trend

Charlie Mullan for Bookies.com

Charlie Mullan  | 6 mins

Nuggets Look To Buck Opening Day Trend

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The Denver Nuggets will raise their first-ever NBA Championship banner on Tuesday when they begin their title defence at home to the Los Angeles Lakers. It promises to be an emotional evening for a franchise that has waited 47 years for this moment, and they intend to make the most of it.

There will be a lot of pre-match ceremonies at the Ball Arena, and head coach Michael Malone will hope his players can block out all the noise and focus on getting their 2023/24 season off to a winning start. The Nuggets are among the favorites with the leading betting sites to repeat their success from last season. 

Defending champions are 18-5 in their opening games the following season since the turn of the century. At Bookies, we have studied how all 30 teams have started their seasons to see which teams are the best at making winning starts.

Champion 2023
Best Odds
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Celtics
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Nuggets
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Timberwolves
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Thunder
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Mavericks
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Teams Best Odds
Celtics
Nuggets
Timberwolves
Thunder
Mavericks
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Recent Champions Bounce Back From Early Adversity

Winning the first of 82 regular-season games doesn't seem to matter in the NBA. Last season, the Denver Nuggets became the sixth team in the last eight seasons to win the NBA Finals after losing their opening game. 

The Nuggets lost 123-102 to the Utah Jazz on the road, but with Nikola Jokic leading their team, Denver bounced back to win their next two games. After 10 games, their record was 7-3, and the foundation was put in place to go on and celebrate the best season in their 47-year history.

The Milwaukee Bucks (2020/21), Los Angeles Lakers (2019/20), Golden State Warriors (2016/17 and 2017/18) and the Cleveland Cavaliers (2015/16) all lost their opening games before being crowned champions at the end of the same season.

Before that, 15 of the previous 16 NBA champions won their opening game en route to a championship-winning season. The Detroit Pistons were the exception when they got their 2003/04 campaign off to a losing start when they were beaten by two points at home to the Indiana Pacers. Will the Nuggets be 1-0 after facing the Lakers?

Nuggets Hoping To Improve Opening Day Record

When it comes to starting a season with a win, the Denver Nuggets are not the strongest at doing so. Since the 2002/03 season, the Nuggets have a 52% success rate in their opening games. From 21 season openers played, Denver have won 11 and lost 10. And their recent history is not the best either, losing game one in two of their last three seasons.

The San Antonio Spurs own the best opening day record of any NBA franchise in the last 21 seasons, with an 85% success rate. A 129-102 defeat to the Charlotte Hornets last season ended a run of six straight opening day wins for the Spurs. No playoff wins in the last six seasons for San Antonio is proof that it doesn't matter how you start an NBA season, it's about how you finish it. 

The Toronto Raptors (71%), Indiana Pacers (66%) and Minnesota Timberwolves (66%) are just behind the Spurs as the teams who have won the most opening day games since the 2002/03 season.

The bad news for Memphis is that the Grizzlies are ranked 30th with just four wins from their last 21 openers. The good news is that they have won their opening game in each of their last two seasons, and they will be looking to make it three in a row when they host the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday. 

Lakers Looking To End Worst Streak

LeBron James returns with the Los Angeles Lakers for his 21st season in the Association, and it's difficult to know what to expect from the NBA's all-time leading points scorer. The Lakers got to the Conference Finals last season only to be swept by Denver. 

A trip to Denver is how the Lakers will start their season, and they will begin as underdogs in that contest. The Lakers have lost their last six season openers, which is the worst current losing streak in the league. The Houston Rockets are next on the list no team wants to be on, with five straight opening game losses. 

The Brooklyn Nets are another team who have struggled at the start of their season, losing nine of their last 10, including their last two. The Nets have made it to the playoffs in each of their last five seasons and will hope to celebrate a rare first day win when they welcome the Cavaliers to Barclays Center on Thursday. 

The New York Knicks are another team that are notoriously slow starters in the NBA. Five losses in their last seven opening nights, including three in their last four, is not the start any team wants, and they face the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden in their opener, hoping to go 1-0 for the second time in five seasons. 

About the Author

Charlie Mullan for Bookies.com
Charlie Mullan
UK-based stats man Charlie Mullan brings previous expertise from the Press Association, DraftKings, Betfair, SportPesa, Hull Daily Mail and more where he has crunched soccer data for many seasons, creating content to support odds providers and market makers in the European betting industry. Charlie has more than a decade of experience using in-depth stats to make informed picks across the biggest games in the EPL and European soccer leagues.