NBA opening night: Experts' picks for East, West and NBA champs

ESPN logo
Tuesday, October 24, 2023

The 2023-24 NBA season is finally here! As fans around the league gear up for two top-tier matchups, our NBA Insiders are already looking ahead to the postseason.

A Western Conference finals rematch between the Los Angeles Lakers and the defending champion Denver Nuggetsopens Tuesday's slate of games. Are the Lakers and Nuggets destined to meet again in the playoffs? Will the revamped Phoenix Suns, opening against the revampedGolden State Warriors, make the leap back to the Finals?

The competition will heat up in the Eastern Conference as the Milwaukee Bucks have set in motion the dynamic duo of Damian Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Can the Boston Celtics, who created a superteam of their own when they landed Jrue Holiday and Kristaps Porzingis this offseason, exact revenge from last year's postseason loss to the Miami Heat? Could a rising team, such as the New York Knicks, sneak into the race?

Most importantly, which team is primed to take it all? Will reigning Finals MVP Nikola Jokic repeat? Can Stephen Curry claim his fifth ring and help get Chris Paul his first?

Which superstar could be the next to ask out? Amid drama surrounding the Philadelphia 76ers and James Harden, could reigning MVP Joel Embiid seek his first championship elsewhere? And after five seasons with the Atlanta Hawks, could two-time All-Star Trae Young look to find his way onto a contending team?

Ahead of tip-off Tuesday night, we're unveiling our experts' predictions for the conference finals, NBA Finals and potential superstar movement.

MORE: 30-team preview| Watchability rankings: 30-11 | 10-1

Eastern Conference finals picks

Jerry Bembry:Bucks over Celtics in 6

Tim Bontemps:Celtics over Bucks in 6

Jamal Collier:Bucks over Celtics in 7

Israel Gutierrez:Heat over Bucks in 6

Andrew Lopez: Bucks over Celtics in 7

Tim MacMahon:Bucks over Celtics in 7

Bobby Marks:Knicks over Celtics in 7

Dave McMenamin:Celtics over Bucks in 7

Kevin Pelton: Celtics over Bucks in 7

Ramona Shelburne: Bucks over Celtics in 6

André Snellings: Bucks over Celtics in 6

Ohm Youngmisuk:Celtics over Bucks in 7

Final tally (East champs):Bucks 6, Celtics 4, Heat 1, Knicks 1.

Western Conference finals picks

Jerry Bembry:Nuggets over Suns in 5

Tim Bontemps: Warriors over Nuggets in 6

Jamal Collier:Nuggets over Suns in 6

Israel Gutierrez:Warriors over Suns in 7

Andrew Lopez: Nuggets over Suns in 6

Tim MacMahon:Nuggets over Suns in 7

Bobby Marks:Suns over Nuggets in 7

Dave McMenamin:Clippers over Nuggets in 6

Kevin Pelton: Nuggets over Suns in 7

Ramona Shelburne: Warriors over Nuggets in 7

André Snellings: Lakers over Nuggets in 7

Ohm Youngmisuk:Nuggets over Lakers in 6

Final tally (West champs):Nuggets 6, Warriors 3, Clippers 1, Lakers 1, Suns 1.

NBA Finals picks

Jerry Bembry:Nuggets over Bucks in 6

Tim Bontemps: Celtics over Warriors in 6

Jamal Collier:Bucks over Nuggets in 6

Israel Gutierrez:Heat over Warriors in 6

Andrew Lopez: Bucks over Nuggets in 7

Tim MacMahon:Nuggets over Bucks in 7

Bobby Marks:Suns over Knicks in 5

Dave McMenamin:Celtics over Clippers in 6

Kevin Pelton: Celtics over Nuggets in 7

Ramona Shelburne: Warriors over Bucks in 7

André Snellings:Bucks over Lakers in 6

Ohm Youngmisuk:Nuggets over Celtics in 6

Final tally (NBA champs):Bucks 3, Celtics, 3, Nuggets 3, Heat 1, Suns 1, Warriors 1.

Bonus! Which star is next to ask for a trade?

Jerry Bembry:Trae Young

Jamal Collier:Joel Embiid

Israel Gutierrez:Joel Embiid

Andrew Lopez: Karl-Anthony Towns

Tim MacMahon:Joel Embiid

Bobby Marks:DeMar DeRozan

Dave McMenamin:Joel Embiid

Kevin Pelton: Joel Embiid

Ramona Shelburne: DeMar DeRozan

André Snellings: Trae Young

Final tally:Embiid 5, DeRozan 2, Young 2, Towns 1.

Related Video