The Best Basketball Players in the World are Back

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It’s back!

The NBA tips off its 71st season with three games tonight.

The defending champion, Cleveland Cavaliers, host the New York Knicks at 7:30 p.m. ET. The Cavs receive their championship rings before facing a revamped Knicks team. 

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©ESPN

New York acquired former league MVP Derrick Rose and league defensive player of the year Joakim Noah from the Bulls in the off-season. The Knicks haven’t been to the playoffs in three straight seasons. If Rose and Noah can stay healthy, they, along with Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis, should lift New York to a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

Jeff Hornacek will make his head coaching debut with the Knicks. 

Tyronn Lue also makes his regular-season coaching debut tonight, since taking over in January and leading Cleveland to its first NBA championship. LeBron James begins his 14th season, only needing 114 points to pass Hakeem Olajuwon for 10th all-time on the NBA scoring list.

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©ESPN

The Portland Trail Blazers look to extend its regular-season home opening win streak to 16, as it takes on the Utah Jazz at 10 p.m. ET. Two-time All-Star, Damian Lillard and the league’s most improved player last season, C.J. McCollum, led the Trail Blazers to its third consecutive playoff appearance in 2016.

The Jazz added veterans Boris Diaw, George Hill and Joe Johnson in the offseason, hoping to balance its young core and return to the playoffs, a feat it hasn’t accomplished since 2012.

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©FoxSports

Last, but not least, two of the best teams in the league last season will face off tonight. The Golden State Warriors and San Antonio Spurs tip at 10:30 p.m. ET.

Kevin Durant will make his debut with the Warriors, after chucking up the deuces to Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the off-season. The 2013-14 league MVP joins forces with two-time reigning MVP, Steph Curry, and a team that went 73-9, breaking the Chicago Bulls 72-10 record.

Tim Duncan is gone, but Pau Gasol will take his place as the big man for the Spurs. The Warriors will be a tough team to beat, but nothing is impossible for Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who has a 17-2 record in regular-season openers.

Let the games begin.

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