Wednesday October 31, 2018

More than half of the teams in the association are in action this Wednesday, as 8 enticing games await us. Ben Simmons leads the Sixers into Toronto to face Kawhi and the Raptors, whilst Damian Lillard takes Portland into Houston looking to compound on Houston’s early-season misery. Both of these games feature in our daily NBA preview, as we break down our 3 best bets of the day and provide another strong multi.

Cleveland Cavaliers vs Atlanta Hawks (10am AEDT)
Under 226.5 Points

Cleveland Cavaliers 

The Cavs continue their homestand at 0-6, after the surprising firing of Head Coach Tyronn Lue yesterday. With Power Forward Kevin Love expected to be out for the foreseeable future, it’s tough to find a bright spot on the Cavs roster. They have very much felt the absence of LeBron James and their anaemic offence has struggled to generate enough good looks this year. They’ve lost all 3 home games by double digits this year, including a 22-point thumping against the Hawks last week. The firing of Coach Lue could be just what the Cavs needed, although it does have the potential to send this franchise in a further downward spiral.  

Atlanta Hawks 

The 2-4 Hawks travel to Cleveland after a beatdown in Philly last night. Atlanta’s offence continued to struggle, shooting only 37% from 3 and 21% from the field. A lack of reliable scorers means that far too much is being put on the shoulders of Rookie Point Guard Tre Young. Defensively, the Hawks didn’t fare all that much better. Aussie Ben Simmons led the way with a near triple double as the Sixers piled up an impressive 33 assists. That said, travelling to the winless Cavaliers represents an excellent opportunity for a get right game. 

Prediction: Under 226.5 Points 

After a strong offensive start to the campaign, both of these sides have struggled in recent games. The Hawks are averaging under 100 points in their last 3, whilst the Cavaliers total has fallen under this number in their past 3 games. Whilst neither of these sides are that strong defensively, I don’t see either side putting up over 115 in this one. Especially after last night’s back-to-back, I expect Atlanta to opt for a slower pace in this one. 

Oklahoma City Thunder vs LA Clippers (11am AEDT)
Thunder at the Line (-2.5)

Oklahoma City Thunder 

The 1-4 Thunder continue their homestand after a much-needed win over Phoenix on Monday. Russell Westbrook and Paul George both led the way with an efficient 23 points each in a strong performance by the starters. In the absence of Center Steven Adams, Nerlens “Wrongly Banned on Facebook” Noel had one of his best performances as a pro, dropping 20 points, 15 rebounds and 4 steals in just 26 minutes. With the impending return of Adams, and some winnable upcoming fixtures, I expect OKC to rebound from their poor start. 

Los Angeles Clippers 

The 4-2 Clippers have surprised a lot of people this season with their exciting style of team basketball. They enter this matchup with OKC after beating Houston by 20 on Saturday and delivering a 32-point beatdown on the Wizards on Monday. Small Forward Tobias Harris continued his strong start to the season, leading the way with 22 points and 11 boards. A major strength of the Clippers is their bench, which was on full display in this one. Lou Williams, Mike Scott, Montrezl Harrell, Boban and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander all added double-digits off the bench in a complete team display. 

Prediction: Thunder -2.5 

Given that we’re only 6 games into the season, I believe there is strong line value on OKC in this one. When the preseason lines came out, they were expected to win 15 more games than the Clippers. Taking into account 3 points for home court, this line suggests that Vegas now believes the Clippers are a better team. Personally, I think OKC has the top-end talent and strong homecourt advantage necessary to win this game and cover the small 2.5-point line. 

Houston Rockets vs Portland Trail Blazers (11am AEDT)
Blazers at the Line (+4)

Houston Rockets 

The 1-4 Rockets enter this one in dreadful form, coming off consecutive home losses. Without James Harden and James Ennis, the already thin Rockets rotation was exposed even more against the Clippers on Saturday. Chris Paul rebounded from his suspension in mid-season form, going 3-13 from the field and enjoying a team worst plus minus of -26. With Harden already ruled out for this one, Houston is at very real risk of falling to 1-5 here. 

Portland Trail Blazers 

The 4-2 Trail Blazers conclude their 4-game road trip in Houston after a solid win in Indiana last night. Damian “Souncloud Rapper” Lillard has started the season in incredible form, putting up averages of 33.8 points, 6.6 assists and 6 boards to start the campaign. He’s been ably supported by C.J. McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic, the latter of whom is averaging a respectable double-double so far. Moreover, second-year big man Zach Collins has been leading an upstart Portland bench unit, enjoying 17 points and a +22 rating last night. They’ll be looking to finish off their road trip in style here.  

Prediction: Trail Blazers +4 

I hate taking a team in the last game of a road trip, but the Rockets are so decimated with injuries right now that I think Portland are good value here. Guys like Isaiah Hartenstein, Gary Clark and Michael Carter-Williams simply aren’t NBA calibre rotation players and they’re expected to get big minutes in this one. Similarly, Carmelo Anthony sticks out like a sore thumb on defence and I expect Lillard and McCollum to isolate him regularly in pick and roll. 

Celtics, Raptors Both to Win
Combined Odds of $1.67

With a lack of quality favourites in the action tonight, I’m going with the two best teams in the East in the daily multi. After comfortably defeating them in Detroit over the weekend, I expect Boston to dispose of the Pistons easily with homecourt. Similarly, I expect a rested Kawhi Leonard to lead Toronto to victory over Ben Simmons and the Sixers after last night’s poor showing in Milwaukee. At $1.67, the value is too good to pass up.