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NBA at 75: Stage set for record-shattering season as rejuvenated LeBron, Lakers eye return to summit | NBA News – Times of India

October 19, 2021

With 11 teams and 160 players, and without the shot clock and the 3-point line, the world’s best basketball league started way back in 1946.
From its founding as the Basketball Association of America on June 6, 1946 to getting renamed as National Basketball Association (NBA) on August 3, 1949, the American league with humble beginnings has now assumed gigantic proportions.
Seventy-five years ago, the NBA was different in every imaginable way. Now in its platinum anniversary season, the league’s 30 participating teams — divided in the Western and Eastern conferences — will play 82 games each. From the season-opening game scheduled on Wednesday (IST) till April 10 next year, a total of 1,230 regular season games will be played.
The 82-game regular season sets the stage for a 16-team playoff run, which features the eight best teams from each conference. The NBA Championship will be conquered by the best team in the two conferences.
From former contenders to rising youngsters, everyone will try to earn the coveted Larry O’Brien trophy this season. The unpredictable 2021 NBA Playoffs showed that anything is possible, and a blockbuster summer of player transfers has reshaped the league again.
In addition to the league’s milestones, a sensational season is likely to ensue on the court, where many all-time records will get shattered.
The Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry is set to become NBA’s all-time leader in three-pointers, needing 143 three-pointers to pass Ray Allen for the record. San Antonio Spurs head coach and five-time NBA Champion Gregg Popovich begins the season needing 26 wins to pass Don Nelson for the most coaching victories in NBA history.
Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James goes on stacking up accomplishments, as he enters his 19th NBA season. With a total of 35,367 career points, James is on the cusp of surpassing Karl Malone (36,928 points) to become the second-highest scorer in NBA history. The Lakers launch their bid to return to the NBA summit with a new roster and a rejuvenated mindset after a badly needed first full off-season in two years.
International players continue to leave their mark. A record nine international players were named NBA All-Stars last season.
The Eastern Conference is packed with intrigue. The Milwaukee Bucks are the defending NBA champions, but it was the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets who had the two best records in the conference last season. The precocious Atlanta Hawks came within two victories of the 2021 NBA Finals. The 2020 NBA Finalist Miami Heat added six-time NBA All-Star Kyle Lowry and are looking to disrupt the top of the conference. The New York Knicks are resurgent, as evidenced by their performance last season. The Boston Celtics, Indiana Pacers and Washington Wizards have talented rosters and new head coaches. The Chicago Bulls are eyeing the playoffs after an ambitious offseason where they added former all-star DeMar DeRozan, former NBA Champion Alex Caruso, and standout point guard Lonzo Ball. The upstart Charlotte Hornets are led by 2020-21 NBA Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball. The Detroit Pistons, Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors and Orlando Magic all feature a top-five pick from the 2021 NBA Draft.
The Western Conference was full of surprises last season, none bigger than the Phoenix Suns making the NBA Finals in their first playoff appearance in 11 years. There’s no telling what will happen this season. The Suns will have to contend with the 2020-21 top overall seed Utah Jazz; the MVP Nikola Jokic-led Denver Nuggets; the new-look 2020 NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers; and the 2021 Western Conference finalist LA Clippers. They will also face teams led by dynamic guards in Stephen Curry of Golden State Warriors, Luka Doncic from Dallas Mavericks, Damian Lillard of Portland Trail Blazers and Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies. And potential upstarts stocked with young talent in the San Antonio Spurs, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, Minnesota Timberwolves, Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets.
The 75th NBA season will tip-off with the defending champions Milwaukee Bucks taking on Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday (IST).

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