Friday October 26, 2018

The Australian Friday is always one of the biggest days on the NBA calendar and this week is no exception. We’re treated to an excellent TNT double header here in the two featured games of the night. This kicks off in Oklahoma City as the Thunder host the Celtics, before moving to Los Angeles as the Lakers play host to Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets. A big night on the court is matched only by the value on the betting card. This preview features an analysis of my 3 best bets today, plus our favourite cross-sport multi.

Detroit Pistons vs Cleveland Cavaliers (10am AEDT)
Under 223.5 Points

Detroit Pistons 

The Pistons surprisingly enter this one 3-0 after a thrilling overtime win over the Sixers on Wednesday. Power Forward Blake Griffin led the way with 50 points and 14 rebounds in a career-best performance. He was capably supported by the 14 points and 16 rebounds of Andre Drummond and the 23 points from Point Guard Reggie Jackson. Despite a 3-0 start, the Pistons have enjoyed a very favourable start to this campaign. They had the Nets and Bulls first up, followed by a Sixers side without Ben Simmons. Admittedly, the winless Cavaliers aren’t exactly a step up from these sides. 

Cleveland Cavaliers 

Predictably, the Cavaliers have struggled mightily without LeBron James, slumping to an 0-4 start. They travel to Detroit off the back of a dreadful 16-point home loss to the Nets yesterday. Kevin Love has put up some solid counting stats so far, averaging 20 points and 14 rebounds. However, he’s done this on terrible efficiency, shooting only 30% from the field and 26% from 3. Other holdovers from some of those LeBron led Finals teams like Tristan “Sucker Punch” Thompson and JR Smith haven’t fared much better either. I expect this to be a long year for the Cavs and think they’ll struggle to pull out a victory here in Detroit.  

Prediction: Under 223.5 Points 

After some incredibly high points totals to start the season, there has been a recent trend towards unders. The Cavs game against Brooklyn totalled only 188 points yesterday and I wouldn’t be surprised if there is a similarly slow-paced game here. Neither of these teams is all that talented offensively and this total feels 5-10 points too high to me. 

Oklahoma City Thunder vs Boston Celtics (11:30am AEDT)
Westbrook Under 10.5 Assists

Oklahoma City Thunder 

The Thunder enter this TNT matchup at a surprising 0-3 after Monday’s shock home loss to the Sacramento Kings. Point Guard Russell Westbrook was hardly the problem in his return from injury, totalling 32 points 12 rebounds and 8 assists. Small Forward Paul George and Center Steven Adams performed well in supporting roles, but OKC really lacks other complementary pieces. After a tough 0-3 start, things don’t get any easier for OKC here as they play host to Eastern Conference favourite Celtics. An 0-4 start would be even more of a disaster, and as such I expect a sense of urgency from the Thunder here. 

Boston Celtics 

The Celtics travel to Oklahoma at 2-2 off the back of a surprising home loss to Orlando. Despite the loss, Point Guard Kyrie Irving had his best performance of the campaign, totalling 22 points, 8 rebounds and 5 assists. A surprise to start this young season has been the relatively poor play of Celtics Shooting Guard Jaylen Brown. In front of a national audience, I expect a better outing from him here. This deep and well-coached Celtics team rarely loses consecutive games, so you know they’ll definitely be up for this one.  

Prediction: Russell Westbrook Under 10.5 assists 

I expect this to be a close game with both teams leaving it all on the court. It’s tough to predict which way this game will go, so I’m opting for what I believe to be a high-value player prop here. The Celtics are yet to allow 10 assists to an opposing Point Guard and Westbrook himself only managed 8 against the Kings on Monday. Against the strong Celtics defence, I don’t see the shoot-first Westbrook notching 11+ assists here. 

LA Lakers vs Denver Nuggets (1:30pm AEDT)
Under 239.5 Points

Los Angeles Lakers 

After a surprising 0-3 start, the Lakers rebounded with a 131-113 win in Phoenix yesterday. Each member of the starting five scored in double digits, whilst Lance ‘Born-Ready’ Stephenson chimed in with 23 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists off the bench. The Lakers fast pace was firmly on display with this one, as they shot 52% on their 100 attempts from the field. It doesn’t get any easier for LA here as they play host to the 4-0 Nuggets. For the Lakers to stand a chance here, they’ll have to improve on the 127 points per game they’ve been allowing 

Denver Nuggets 

The 4-0 Nuggets travel to LA off the back of 4 impressive conference wins to start the season, highlighted by a win over Golden State on Monday. Center Nikola Jokic has led the way so far, averaging 23 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists on 61% shooting. Paul Millsap, Jamal Murray and Gary Harris have all started the season strongly and help make up a dominant Nuggets starting 5. An injury to Small Forward Will Barton does somewhat thin their rotation, however the Nuggets still have the pieces to compete here in LA. 

Prediction: Under 239.5 Points 

Given the ridiculously high scoring games the Lakers have had so far, this high points total makes sense. After last night’s taxing affair in Phoenix, I’m not sure the Lakers have the energy for another high scoring affair here. Denver’s defence has been strong to start the season and I expect them to contain LA here. 

Texans, Nuggets Both to Win
Combined Odds of $2

With a lack of quality options in the NBA, I’m opting for a cross-sport multi here. I’m very confident in a Houston Texans NFL victory and think this is complimented nicely by the Nuggets here. At even money, this is a tough one for me to pass up.

Thursday October 25, 2018

Thursday is always one of the best days of the NBA week and this is no exception. With 11 games on today’s slate, there’s plenty of value to be had in both conferences. Let’s take a look at our 4 best bets of the day, plus our favourite multi of the week so far.

Miami Heat vs New York Knicks (10:30am AEDT)
Under 224.5 Points

Miami Heat 

The Heat enter this one 1-2 after a disappointing home loss the Hornets. It was their usually strong defense that struggled, allowing 39 points to Charlotte PG Kemba Walker. Miami is still riddled with injuries; with Wayne Ellington, James Johnson, Dion Waiters and Justise Winslow all in question for this one. That said, the Heat do still have quite a strong rotation. One that should be more than capable of handling the hapless Knicks at home. 

New York Knicks 

The 1-3 Knicks travel to Miami after a trio of consecutive losses. Their defence really let them down on Tuesday, allowing 124 points to the high-flying Bucks. Guard Tim Hardaway continued his strong start to the season with 24 points, whilst Center Enes “Twitter Fingers” Kanter added another double-double. With star big man Kristaps Porzingis still recovering from injury, this has been billed as yet another rebuilding campaign for New York 

Prediction: Under 224.5 

The high-scoring start to the NBA has started to inflate totals far too much. Miami is a gritty hard-working team that specialises in grinding out games like these. I expect them to control the pace in this one and stifle the Knicks offense, with the final total falling around 10 points below this line. 

Houston Rockets vs Utah Jazz (11am AEDT)
Jazz at the Line (+3)

Houston Rockets 

The 1-2 Houston Rockets return home after a surprisingly poor start to the season. James Harden led the way with 31 points and 14 assists against the Clippers, but it just wasn’t enough in Monday’s defeat. New acquisitions Carmelo Anthony and Michael Carter-Williams are starting to offer up weak spots in a previously strong Houston rotation. With the absence of Chris “Worst Teammate in the NBA” Paul, the Rockets face a tough challenge here in the form of a gritty Jazz side.  

Utah Jazz 

After losing at the buzzer to Golden State on Saturday, the 1-2 Jazz laid an egg at home to the Grizzlies on Tuesday. Shooting Guard Donovan Mitchell hasn’t continued his strong form from last season, shooting just 34% from the field on 20 attempts per game so far. Center Rudy Gobert continues to be an interior force, with 3 consecutive double doubles to open the season. Shooting only 35% against Memphis, I have faith that this Utah team will bounce back here. 

Prediction: Jazz +3 

The Jazz have all the motivation in the world in this one. Not only did they lose to this Houston team in last season’s Conference Semis, they’ve just come off 2 very frustrating losses. Without Chris Paul, I think the Jazz have every chance of taking this one in Houston. The 3 points are also great insurance if it’s a close one. 

Sacramento Kings vs Memphis Grizzlies (1pm AEDT)
Grizzlies 1st Half Line (-1)

Sacramento Kings 

The 1-3 Kings return home after a tough loss in Denver last night. Rookie Power Forward Marvin Bagley was a bright spot, putting up an impressive 20 points and 9 rebounds. Whilst their defence has been dreadful, the Kings offense has been surprisingly effective so far this season. They’ve scored at least 112 points in every game and are playing with great energy. The first game home after a road trip is never easy and I think they’re in a tough spot here against Memphis. 

Memphis Grizzlies 

After a disastrous opening night loss in Indiana, the Grizzlies have rebounded with consecutive wins over the Hawks and Jazz. Their defence in Utah on Tuesday was incredibly impressive, limiting the Jazz to just 84 points on 35% from the field and 25% from 3. It’s the 2018 season and Gasol and Conley are still leading the way for the Grizzlies. Whilst both could stand to improve their field goal percentage, they offer so much to a roster that is made up primarily of role players. 

Prediction: Grizzlies 1st Half -1 

The late-night travel from Denver to Sacramento won’t prove easy for the Kings here. I expect the Grizzlies to ultimately win this one but think a bet on the first half represents even better value. I’m never a fan of huge public plays, but this is one that both the numbers and eye test supports. 

Phoenix Suns vs LA Lakers (1pm AEDT)
Lakers at the Line

Phoenix Suns 

After a strong opening win over Dallas, the Suns have struggled in consecutive losses to Golden State and Denver. Shooting Guard Devin Booker has unsurprisingly been a bright spot for Phoenix this year. The recently extended star is averaging 29.3 points and 6.7 assists, shooting 50% from the field and 40% from 3. Phoenix has been a difficult team to gauge so far this season, but a home tilt with the Lakers will give us a stronger insight as to their level in 2018/19. 

Los Angeles Lakers 

The Lakers travel to Phoenix off the back of a disastrous 0-3 start. Aussie Point Guard Patty Mills sank LeBron and the Lakers with a clutch game winner in Monday’s Overtime thriller. Despite 37 from Kyle Kuzma and 32 from LeBron James, the Lakers poor outside shooting and defence has continued to cost them. Without Brandon Ingram and Rajon Rondo both off with suspension, it won’t be easy for the Lakers, but they have to find a way in this front end of a back-to-back. 

Prediction: Lakers Moneyline @ $1.70 

The Lakers surely can’t go to 0-4 in Phoenix… or can they? Honestly, I expect a desperate and urgent performance in this one. LA are the more talented team and simply have to pull this one out. If it’s close at the end, I’d also be confident that the referees will have some LA bias. 

Raptors, Heat, Warriors All to Win
Combined Odds of $1.92

This is the multi opportunity I’ve been waiting all week for. 3 home teams with the significant talent edge over their opponents at a great price. I expect each of these teams to pull off comfortable wins here and believe the $1.92 price tag represents immense value.

Wednesday October 24, 2018

There are only 3 games on this NBA Wednesday card, but there’s still plenty of value on the card. The Clippers travel to New Orleans in what looks to be the match of the day, whilst Denver looks to maintain their unbeaten start at home to Sacramento. Let’s take a look at my best bet for each of today’s games.

Detroit Pistons vs Philadelphia 76ers (10am AEDT)
76ers at the Line

Detroit Pistons 

Detroit returns home after an impressive 2-0 start to the campaign. All of their starters scored in double figures in what was an impressive win over Chicago. Power Forward Blake Griffin led the way with 33 points and 12 rebounds in a performance that was reminiscent of his 2014 campaign. An impressive 45% from 3 was the catalyst to victory in this impressive offensive display. Double-double machine Andre Drummond continues to perform strongly at Center, whilst Ish Smith and Zaza “Nothing Easy” Pachulia lead the way off the bench. Hosting Philly represents the Pistons’ toughest test to the young season and I’m not sure they’re up for it. 

Philadelphia 76ers 

The 76ers travel to Detroit 2-1 after a narrow home win over Orlando. After the injury to Aussie Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and JJ Redick stole the show. Both of these men got up 30 much-needed points on 50% shooting from the field. Mercurial big man Dario Saric delivered a strong complementary performance, whilst second-year Point Guard Markelle Fultz looked more comfortable with the ball in his hands. Winning in Detroit is no easy feat, but if Ben Simmons is back and healthy, I fancy the Sixers’ chances here. 

Prediction: 76ers Moneyline 

Note that this play is dependent on the health of Aussie big man Ben Simmons. Simmons suffered an early injury against Orlando on Monday and no line has been posted with his status still in question. If Simmons is a go, I think Philly has the talent to overwhelm this Detroit team. Their versatile defensive scheme and energy in transition give them a strong edge here. 

New Orleans Pelicans vs LA Clippers (11am AEDT)
Clippers at the Line (+7)

New Orleans Pelicans 

The Pelicans enter this one 2-0 off an impressive start to the season. They’ve averaged 140 points from the field in an incredibly hot shooting start. Big man Anthony Davis has unsurprisingly led the way with a well-rounded stat line. One of the pre-season favourites for MVP, Davis has averaged 28 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists and 2.5 blocks so far. His frontcourt mate Nikola Mirotic has surprised everybody with averages of 33 points and 9 rebounds, shooting 64% from 3 in the process. New signing Elfrid Payton also delivered a triple double in the opener in Houston, no doubt rejuvenated by his new haircut. Against a deep 2-1 Clippers team, the Pelicans will face an early season test at home. 

Los Angeles Clippers 

Whilst they’ve been somewhat aided by opponent injuries and suspensions, the Clippers enter this one off an impressive 2-1 start. Small Forward Tobias Harris continues to impress, averaging 22.7 points and 8 rebounds on the season so far. Finally healthy again, Danilo Gallinari is also putting up over 20 a game, shooting a sharp 47% from 3 in the process. The strength of this Clippers team is undoubtedly their depth. In addition to a versatile starting five, a bench unit featuring Lou Williams, Luc Mbah a Moute, Montrezl Harrell and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander causes many opposing lineups problem. As 7-point underdogs, I think they represent excellent value in New Orleans. 

Prediction: Clippers +7 

Whilst the Pelicans have started the season impressively, I don’t believe we’ve seen enough from them to favour them so heavily here. I expect the outstanding defensive backcourt to really put the clamps on Jrue Holiday, putting even more pressure on AD to perform. The deep Clippers second unit also has a strong advantage over their New Orleans counterparts. Backed by a generous 7 points, there’s too much value on the Clip Show to ignore here in my best bet of the day.  

Denver Nuggets vs Sacramento Kings (12pm AEDT)
1st Half Over 113 Points

Denver Nuggets 

After toppling the defending champion Warriors on Monday, the Nuggets enter this one an impressive 3-0. Center Nikola Jokic has been on an absolute tear this season. The Serbian big man is averaging 26 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists, all the while shooting 63% from the field and 50% from 3. Shooting Guard Gary Harris continued his stellar start to the campaign, pouring in 28 points to lead the team against Golden State. The Nuggets are a generally underrated team that I believe can compete for top 4 in the West this season. With the Kings having no-one capable of stopping Jokic, I’m expecting a high scoring affair in Denver here.  

Sacramento Kings 

The Kings shocked everyone with a win on Monday in Oklahoma City in Russell Westbrook’s return game. Iman “living in my girl’s shadow” Shumpert came out of nowhere with 26 points, whilst second-year Point Guard De’Aaron Fox delivered an impressive 22 points and 10 assists. Sacramento’s offense has been on a tear to start the season, eclipsing 50% from the field in every game so far. This is likely due to their pace and space starting lineup that features four perimeter shooters. Travelling to the altitude of Denver represents a tough test, but it’s one I believe the Kings offense is capable of handling.  

Prediction: 1st Half Over 113 Points 

Given the performances of these 2 teams so far, this total is definitely too low in my opinion. The Kings have eclipsed this total in all 3 games this season off the back of their fast pace and poor defence. Denver’s starting lineup is one of the best offensive units in the NBA and I don’t think the Kings have the talent to contain them. I could easily see this first half eclipsing 120.

Tuesday October 23, 2018

Another day, another exciting slate of NBA action. 9 intriguing games from all over the country await us on this Tuesday card. This detailed preview will cover our 3 best bets of the day, as well as a big 5-fold daily multi. 

Boston Celtics vs Orlando Magic (10:30am AEDT)
Under 212.5 Points

Boston Celtics 

The 2-1 Celtics return home after a narrow road victory over the Knicks on Sunday. Jayson Tatum led the way with an impressive 24 points and 14 rebounds in the absence of Gordon Hayward. Conversely, Point Guard Kyrie Irving has struggled mightily so far in his return from injury. He’s averaging just 14 points on 34% from the field and 14% from 3 in a truly dismal campaign. Buoyed by the return of Hayward today, I expect the strong Celtics starters and second unit to cruise to victory here. 

Orlando Magic 

The 1-2 Magic travel to Boston after a heart-breaking 1-point loss to the 76ers on Sunday. Center Nik Vucevic led the way with an efficient triple double. The Montenegrin big man put up an outstanding 27 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists on just 10-15 shooting, all the while being matched up against Joel Embiid. Shooting Guard Evan ‘Don’t Google Me’ Fournier added a strong 31 points, whilst Power Forward Aaron Gordon had a 20-point double-double. Travelling to Boston, Orlando will need an even better performance to have a chance in this one.  

Prediction: Under 212.5 

There’s been some good recent success with backing the under of the lowest total on the day’s slate. Despite a strong display on Sunday, the Magic offense has largely struggled this season. I expect the suffocating Celtics defence to contain them in a total that ends around 200. 

Minnesota Timberwolves vs Indiana Pacers (11am AEDT)
Pacers at the Line (+3)

Minnesota Timberwolves 

The Timberwolves enter this one after a disappointing road loss to the Mavericks, where they allowed an obscene 140 points. Karl Anthony Towns continued his strong start to the season, notching 31 points and 5 rebounds in Jimmy Butler’s absence. Former MVP Derrick Rose showed what he is capable of, enjoying a well-rounded stat line of 28 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. It was defensively where the Wolves really blew this one. They allowed the Mavs to shoot 50% from the field and get up 50 3-point attempts in a 140-point onslaught. Against a Pacers team with a diverse offensive attack, this simply has to improve here. 

Indiana Pacers 

The Pacers travel to Minnesota 2-1 after a resounding 20-point win over the Nets on Sunday. Shooting Guard Victor Oladipo led the way with 25 points and 7 rebounds, whilst the rest of the starting lineup each contributed double figures. The Pacers bench continues to be one of the strongest in the entire league, with 4 more players adding double digit scoring. Sometimes thought of as a flat track bully, the Pacers have proven they can handle the bottom teams in the NBA with ease. In what appears to be a difficult road trip, this game will give us a stronger insight into what Indiana is capable of in 2018/19. 

Prediction: Pacers +3 

For me, the Pacers are the better team here. The Timberwolves have started the season 1-2 against 3 teams who are unlikely to make the playoffs. They’ve been through a tough off-season off the court and I’m not sure they’ll be ready for the Pacers’ energy and versatility in this one. Indiana has every chance of winning this outright, but the 3 points makes this a strong play for me. 

Portland Trail Blazers vs Washington Wizards (1pm AEDT)
Wizards at the Line (+5.5)

Portland Trail Blazers 

The Blazers enjoy their third straight home game here off the back of consecutive wins over the Lakers and Spurs. Point Guard Damian Lillard unsurprisingly led the way against San Antonio, dropping 29 points and 9 assists in a controlled performance. The Blazers had a great shooting night as a team, shooting over 53% from the field and an impressive 46% from three. Shooting Guard CJ McCollum has also gotten off to a fast start to the season, shooting 54% from deep on 6.5 attempts per game. As the most heavily backed team of the night, part of me feels as though the public is overvaluing Portland based on this two-game sample. 

Washington Wizards 

The Wizards travel to Portland off the back of consecutive home losses to the Heat and Raptors. Bradley Beal has started the season strongly, averaging 26 points and 4 assists on over 51% shooting from the field. Similarly, Point Guard John Wall has impressed since his return from injury, averaging 25.5 points and 7.5 assists on the campaign so far. This is where the bright spots for Washington start and end. The rest of the team has struggled immensely so far, and this isn’t helped by the absence of free-agent acquisition Dwight Howard. Nevertheless, the Wizards have been competitive in their opening 2 games and seem somewhat undervalued at this line. 

Prediction: Wizards +5.5 

I’m continuing with one of my favourite trends of betting against the most heavily bet team on the night. Through the key number of 5, I think there is strong line value on Washington in this one. These are two relatively evenly matched teams and I expect Wall and Beal to keep the Wizards close here. Sprinkling a bit extra on the Wizards moneyline at $2.65 is also a value play.

Celtics, Raptors, Bucks, Jazz, Warriors All to Win
Combined Odds of $1.82

5-leg multis are never easy but this one does feature 5 double-digit home favourites. Any of these sides losing today would represent a big upset. These are all teams expected to compete for home court in their respective conferences and these are the games you can’t afford to lose in that position. Adding the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL at $1.50 is a great way to beef this price up further. 

Monday October 22, 2018

The NBA action continues after an exciting first 5 days to the season with 4 games on Monday’s slate. Whilst Russell Westbrook’s injury has the Kings vs Thunder line in doubt, there is plenty of value to be had on the other 3 games. This preview will feature my top 3 plays for the day, plus a unique twist on today’s multi. 

Cleveland Cavaliers vs Atlanta Hawks (9am AEDT)
Cavs 1st Qtr Line

Cleveland Cavaliers 

The Cavaliers return to Quicken Loans Arena for their home opener after consecutive road losses to the Raptors and Timberwolves. Kevin Love has taken the role of team leader after LeBron James’ departure, notching up 25 points and 19 rebounds on Saturday. Turkish Small Forward Cedi Osman has looked good replacing LeBron, managing 22 points of his own against the Timberwolves. Whilst the Cavs should be able to score offensively, it’s been their defence that has let them down. They allowed 131 points to the Timberwolves on Saturday, which included over 50% shooting from the field and 40% from 3. This simply has to improve against a Hawks offense that has largely struggled to start the season. 

Atlanta Hawks 

The Hawks enter this one off consecutive double-digit road losses to the Knicks and Grizzlies. Rookie Point Guard Trae Young is still trying to find his feet, however he did manage an impressive 20 points and 9 assists against Memphis. Small Forward Taurean Prince also delivered a solid outing, notching 28 points on 10/15 shooting in just 23 minutes. Unfortunately, this Hawks offence is at a talent deficit against almost every other team in the NBA. Whilst the porous Cavaliers defence may prove easier to score on, I’m not expecting the Hawks to get their first win. 

Prediction: Cavaliers 1st Quarter Moneyline $1.96 

Back to a bet that served me well yesterday. 12 minutes isn’t always enough for class to show through, but I believe the Cavs starting lineup is significantly better than the Hawks. Despite Prince’s emergence, the Hawks just don’t have a wing scorer capable of taking advantage of a weak Cavs defence. With Cleveland being -6.5 for the game, just under even money for them to win the first quarter is good value.  

Denver Nuggets vs Golden State Warriors (11am AEDT)
Nuggets at the Line +(3.5)

Denver Nuggets 

The Nuggets enter this one 2-0 after perfectly handling what was a potential trap game against the Suns yesterday. Center Nikola Jokic led the way with a phenomenal 35-point triple double where he went 11/11 from the field. Against an interior Warriors defence that has struggled this season, Jokic could be in for a big one. Point Guard Jamal Murray was the Robin to Jokic’s Batman, chiming in with 26 points of his own, whilst veteran Power Forward Paul Millsap delivered another handy double-double. The injury to Small Forward Will Barton is a bit of a concern, but the Nuggets should still be competitive as the Champs come to town. 

Golden State Warriors 

The defending champs also enter this one 2-0 after an impressive comeback win over Utah on Saturday. All the hype surrounded Aussie Joe Ingles, however he was very much outplayed by Finals MVP Kevin Durant. Durant went off for 38 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists, whilst Point Guard Stephen Curry added in a crucial 31 points and 8 assists of his own. Free Agent Jonas Jerebko surprised everyone with the game winning layup, staring down the bench of the team who let him go in the offseason. Whilst Golden State has started the season off strongly, injuries to Andre Iguodala and DeMarcus Cousins have left them surprisingly thin.  

Prediction: Denver Nuggets +3.5 

A definite contrarian play here but I think the Nuggets are good value at home. The thin Golden State bench will put extra pressure on the starters, which isn’t ideal at the strong altitude of Denver. I expect a close one here and think taking the 3.5 points with Denver could prove crucial. Whilst the Nuggets are on a back-to-back, fatigue shouldn’t be too much of an issue at this early point of the season. 

LA Clippers vs Houston Rockets (12pm AEDT)
Clippers at the Line (+3)

LA Clippers 

The Clippers enter this one 1-1 after a great home victory over Oklahoma City on Saturday. Forwards Tobias Harris and Danilo Gallinari led the way, both totalling 26 points on the evening. Shooting Guard Lou Williams and fan-favourite Boban also performed well off the bench, both eclipsing 13 points. The starting backcourt of Avery Bradley and Patrick Beverley makes for an excellent defensive tandem that I think can trouble Chris Paul and James Harden here. 

Houston Rockets 

The Rockets come into this matchup 1-1 after beating the Lakers last night in a competitive encounter. Reigning MVP James Harden led the way with 36 points and 5 assists, whilst Clint Capela performed admirably with 19 points and 12 rebounds. They return to Staples Center today to face an upstart Clippers squad. The likely suspension to Point Guard Chris Paul after yesterday’s altercation makes this a difficult one for Houston on short rest. 

Prediction: LA Clippers +3 

This is right up my alley as the biggest contrarian play of the day. After a taxing affair against the Lakers last night, I’m not sure Houston will be completely up for this one. I expect the deep and versatile LA roster to run the Rockets out of the gym here. The Clippers have every chance of taking this one outright, but the 3 points are too good of value to pass up. 

Rams, Jaguars to Win
Combined Odds of $1.81

Truthfully, I just don’t see any great value in a multi on today’s NBA action. Being a Monday, this does however mean that there is always great value on the NFL. I expect the high-flying Rams to continue their undefeated start as they face the hapless 49ers. Similarly, I expect the Jaguars strong defence to rebound this week as they beat the Texans comfortably at home. With only 2 legs, this is very little risk for the great $1.81 price. 

Sunday October 21, 2018

The NBA action continues to heat up, with another 10 games on the slate for today. Kawhi Leonard leads the Raptors into Washington, whilst LeBron and the Lakers play host to the Houston Rockets in the two marquee matchups of the day. Let’s take a look at my 4 best bets and daily multi recommendation for Sunday’s slate. 

Indiana Pacers vs Brooklyn Nets (10am AEDT)
Pacers 1st Qtr Line ($1.96)

Indiana Pacers 

The Pacers return home after a poor showing against the Bucks yesterday. Victor Oladipo performed admirably with 25 points, but the rest of the team just wasn’t up to it in a 17-point defeat. For a team that prides itself on its defence, allowing 118 points reflects a lack of effort. The Bankers Life Fieldhouse has always been a fortress for Indiana and I expect them to bounce back here with a resurgent win over the Nets. 

Brooklyn Nets 

The Nets enter this matchup 1-1 after a narrow home victory over the Knicks yesterday. Shooting Guard Caris LeVert led the way with 28 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists, including the game-winning layup. 5 other Nets also scored in double figures in a strong team performance. Despite being somewhat limited by injuries, Coach Kenny Atkinson always has his team playing hard. The Nets limited the Knicks offense to just 40% from the field yesterday and will need a similar effort to get past Indiana here. 

Prediction: Pacers 1st Quarter Moneyline at $1.96 

After yesterday’s performance, I expect the Pacers to start this one with energy and urgency. They have a significantly better starting line-up in this one and I think $1.96 is very generous for them to win the first quarter. 

Philadelphia 76ers vs Orlando Magic (10:30am AEDT)
Magic Total Under 102.5

Philadelphia 76ers 

After a poor loss to the Celtics on opening night, the Sixers bounced back with a comfortable 19-point home victory over the Bulls. Joel Embiid led the way with 30 points and 12 rebounds, whilst Aussie Ben Simmons notched the first of what is sure to be many triple doubles this season. 8 Sixers players managed to score in double figures in what was a truly dominant offensive display. Aussie Jonah Bolden also got his first NBA minutes to a standing ovation from the Philly crowd. 

Orlando Magic 

After a convincing opening day win over the Heat, the Magic suffered a dreadful 32-point home loss to the Hornets yesterday. They shot just 38% from the field, including a dismal 19% from 3. A usually stout defence was also carved apart by the Kemba Walker led Hornets offense. If the Magic are to go anywhere this season, their lack of backcourt playmakers and poor perimeter shooting needs to be addressed. 

Prediction: Magic Team Total Under 102.5 

I predicted the under in the Magic game yesterday and I’m going with a similar theme here. Their lack of playmaking and dreadful 3-point shooting means the Magic need to get their points on the interior. Against Joel Embiid and this strong Philly defence, I don’t see life being easy for Orlando here. This total is 5-6 points too high for me. 

Denver Nuggets vs Phoenix Suns (12pm AEDT)
Suns at the Line (+10.5)

Denver Nuggets 

The Nuggets got their campaign off to a strong start on Thursday with a 9-point road win over the Clippers. Nikola Jokic and Gary Harris both managed 20+ points, whilst Power Forward Paul Millsap hauled in 16 rebounds in a great effort from Denver’s starting unit. Their previously suspect defence also held up very well, limiting LA to under 40% shooting from the field and 28% from 3.  

Phoenix Suns 

Phoenix got their season underway with an excellent 21-point home win over the Mavericks. Shooting Guard Devin Booker led the way with 35 points and 7 assists. New additions Trevor Ariza and DeAndre Ayton also performed well, whilst duo Josh Jackson and TJ Warren showed their quality on the second unit. Travelling to the altitude of Denver is a great early litmus test for the new-look Suns. 

Prediction: Suns +10.5 

This is very much a situational play for me. With Denver welcoming the champion Golden State Warriors tomorrow, they may not be giving their full attention to this one. I think the Suns have a much-improved roster this season and will likely keep this one close. The $5.25 moneyline doesn’t look like a bad shout either.  

LA Lakers vs Houston Rockets (1:30pm AEDT)
Rockets 1st Half Line (-1.5)

Los Angeles Lakers 

LeBron’s first game in a Lakers uniform ended in a disappointing 9-point loss to Portland. The Lakers poor perimeter shooting proved to be their undoing, going 7-30 from 3 in a truly poor display. Defensively, the Lakers weren’t much better. They allowed Portland to push the pace in transition and rack up a whopping 128 points. Against a strong Houston team, the Lakers face a difficult test in LeBron’s home debut. 

Houston Rockets 

The Rockets were destroyed in their home opener on Thursday, falling 131-112 to the upstart Pelicans. It was the defence that was the issue for the Rockets in this one, as Anthony Davis and Nikola Mirotic combined for 62 points on 60% from the field. Neither James Harden or Chris Paul could get things going offensively in this one, whilst controversial new man Carmelo Anthony struggled in his debut. 

Prediction: Rockets 1st Half -1.5 

With both sides coming off disappointing opening losses, it’s the Rockets who I trust to bounce back in this one. I believe their strong perimeter shooting to prove too much for this porous Lakers defence, as James Harden outduels LeBron. Expect the Rockets to get out to an early lead here as the Lakers try to find their best rotations. 

Pacers, Celtics, Sixers All to Win
Combined Odds of $1.65

A relatively safe multi here with three teams that have the huge talent edge in this one. I expect the Pacers and Celtics to rebound off their losses yesterday, whilst Ben Simmons and the Sixers cruise at home to Orlando. You can add the Denver Nuggets to beef up this price, however I can see Phoenix keeping that one close.

Saturday October 20, 2018

9 exciting fixtures await us on Saturday as weekend NBA returns. The highlight games are undoubtedly the ESPN duo of Toronto vs Boston and Utah vs Golden State, however there’s value to be had all over the board. This preview will cover my 4 best bets of the day, with a daily multi thrown in for good measure.

Orlando Magic vs Charlotte Hornets (10am AEDT)
Under 218.5 Points

Orlando Magic 

Orlando got their season off to a positive start on Thursday, registering a home win over the Miami Heat in Steve Clifford’s coaching debut. Fresh off his new contract extension, Aaron Gordon was immense, totalling 26 points and 16 rebounds in a fantastic display. 5 other magic players scored in double figures in what was very much a team effort. The defence was in fine form as well, holding Miami to under 40% from the field, including just 27% from 3. 

Charlotte Hornets 

Despite a strong performance from Kemba Walker, the Hornets fell by 1 point in their home opener against the Bucks on Thursday. Whilst the rest of the starting five struggled, reserve Guard Malik Monk delivered an impressive 18 points in 34 minutes. It was on defence where the Hornets lost this one. They allowed just under 50% shooting from the Bucks, including 41% from three. Against a Magic offense that tends to struggle from the perimeter, this will need to be ironed out for the Hornets to hand coach James Borrego his first NBA win here. 

Prediction: Under 218.5 

For an Orlando Magic home game, this is a bit of a high total in my opinion. New coach Steve Clifford emphasises defence and the Magic very much lack reliable outside shooting options. I expect a close affair hear that ends with around 200 points. 

Brooklyn Nets vs New York Knicks (10:30am AEDT)
Under 218.5 Points

Brooklyn Nets 

The Nets played the Pistons close in their season opener on Thursday, narrowly falling by 3 points. With injuries to DeMarre Carroll, Shabazz Napier, Allen Crabbe and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, the Nets perimeter rotation is decimated. Shooting Guard Caris LeVert performed admirably in the season opener, registering 27 points in 10-18 shooting. Spencer Dinwiddie chimed in with a further 23 off the bench but the Nets struggled from outside, hitting just 5/27 threes. 

New York Knicks 

The Knicks looked very impressive in their season opener, dropping 126 in a home win over Atlanta. Shooting Guard Tim Hardaway led the way, putting up 31 points, 5 assists and 6 rebounds. 6 other Knicks scored in double figures in what was a comprehensive team performance. The usually suspect Knicks defence was also impressive, limiting the Hawks to just 27% from three. Given the lowly pre-season expectations we had of the Knicks, I get the feeling this one was a bit of an anomaly. 

Prediction: Under 218.5 

With the roster decimated by injuries, I’m expecting the Nets to play at a slower pace in this one. They totalled 203 points in their opener against the Pistons and I would expect a similar points tally here. Against an improved Nets defence, I also don’t see the Knicks having the same success they did on Thursday.  

Milwaukee Bucks vs Indiana Pacers (11:30am AEDT)
Pacers at the Line (+3.5)

Milwaukee Bucks 

The Bucks got off to a strong start in Charlotte on Thursday, yet somehow managed to blow the -2 cover in a 1-point victory. Giannis delivered an impressive 25 points, 18 rebounds and 8 assists as he ran the show. The rest of the starting line-up all registered double figures, proving that this is more than just a one-man team. New coach Mike Budenholzer changed up the rotations, opting not to play either of Aussies Matt Dellavedova and Thon Maker.  

Indiana Pacers 

In what was probably the most impressive opening performance, the Indiana Pacers destroyed the Grizzlies at home by 28 points. Their suffocating defence held the Grizzlies to just 83 points, whilst an impressive 56% shooting was the key on offence. 7 pacers scored in double figures in this one, highlighting their impressive depth and versatility. In a battle between my projected 4th and 5th seeds in the East, it will be interesting to see whether Indiana’s strong defence can contain Giannis and Co. 

Prediction: Pacers +3.5 

This is very much a contrarian play, but I believe the Pacers are good value getting 3.5 points here. They have a deeper and more versatile roster than Milwaukee which I believe will allow them to keep this one close, if not manage the outright win.  

Utah Jazz vs Golden State Warriors (1:30pm AEDT)
Jazz at the Line (+3)

Utah Jazz 

Utah enters this season with high hopes after last season’s Conference Semi Final appearance. They started off their 2018/19 season in fine form, beating the Kings by 6 points on the road. Donovan Mitchell led the way with 24 points, whilst Aussie Joe Ingles chimed in with an efficient 22. Buoyed by their raucous home crowd and the Utah altitude, the Jazz have always had a solid home court advantage. They face the most difficult test in the NBA against the Warriors, but it is one I think they’ll be up to. 

Golden State Warriors 

Golden State got its season underway with a comfortable home victory over Oklahoma City on Wednesday. Stephen Curry led the way with 32 points, 9 assists and 8 rebounds, whilst Kevin Durant chipped in with 27 of his own. Young big men Damian Jones and Kevon Looney both also looked impressive, contributing 12 and 10 points respectively. The strong Golden State defence held OKC to just 36% from the field, including just 27% from 3. With Andre Iguodala questionable and Draymond Green on a minutes limit, the Warriors will face a tough test here in Utah. 

Prediction: Utah +3 

At 3 points, I believe there’s a fair bit of value on Utah here. Their deep and balanced roster is difficult to contain in the altitude and I believe they’ll be well up for the Golden State challenge here. Utah has a strong chance of winning this outright, but the 3 points give us some room to play with. 

Timberwolves, Grizzlies, Pelicans All to Win
Combined Odds of $1.90

With the fans demanding a multi, this appears to be the best one available. Each of these teams is at home with a noticeable talent advantage over the opposition. Despite the off-field questions for the Timberwolves, I expect them to take care of business here. The Pelicans are the most likely of these three to win, whilst the Grizzlies should bounce back after Thursday’s shocker.

Friday October 19, 2018

After a whirlwind first two days of the NBA season, the basketball gods have blessed us with another 3 enticing fixtures on today’s card. The eagerly awaited debut of LeBron James in a Lakers uniform occurs today, as they travel to Rip City to take on the Blazers. Washington and Chicago also both get their seasons underway today, whilst the Sixers and Heat are the first two teams to have multiple games under their belt. Let’s take a look at my best bet for each of the 3 games on the card today.

Philadelphia 76ers vs Chicago Bulls (11am AEDT)
Under 215.5 Points

Philadelphia 76ers 

Fresh off a disappointing loss to the Celtics, Philadelphia will enjoy their home opener against the Bulls on TNT. The Sixers offense just couldn’t get going on Wednesday, shooting under 40% from the field, including a hapless 19% from three. Aussie Ben Simmons still managed to put on a show, registering a complete stat line of 19 points, 15 rebounds, 8 assists and 4 steals. Whilst it was tough going against the strong Boston defence, things should be a bit easier against the Bulls. With no reliable wing defenders on the roster, I expect another big night from Simmons here. If Joel Embiid can reliably hit the outside shot, this should be a comfortable win for Philly. 

Chicago Bulls 

There is a lot of unknown surrounding the Chicago Bulls as they start their 2018/19 campaign here. Whilst it’s unclear how their young talent will mesh together, players such as Zach LaVine and the recently acquired Jabari Parker should make the Bulls more watchable this year. However, the injury to second-year Power Forward Lauri Markannen is a big one. His performances really took off in the second half of last season and he looks like a future cornerstone that the Bulls can build around. Even with Kris Dunn and Robin Lopez rounding out the starting five, it’s tough to foresee the Bulls having a good defence this year. 

Prediction: Under 215.5 

Whilst I expect a comfortable 76ers win here, I’m not sure there is great value in the 11-point spread. Given their tiring pre-season trip to China, I’m expecting some low scoring games to start the season for Philadelphia. They had a comfortable under against Boston on Wednesday and I believe the line here is overinflated by 5-10 points. I’m taking a comfortable under here in my best bet of the day. 

Washington Wizards vs Miami Heat (11am AEDT)
Heat at the Line (+5.5)

Washington Wizards vs Miami Heat, 11 am 

Washington Wizards 

The Wizards enter 2018/19 off a lacklustre season that saw them finish as the #8 seed in the East. With John Wall back to full health and the acquisition of Dwight Howard, many are predicting the Wizards for an improved season this year. It seems the bookmakers also expect this with quite a substantial 5.5 point spread for the first game of the season. Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and Markieff Morris round out a competent starting five, however it’s been the bench unit where the Wizards have struggled of late. Kelly Oubre remains a solid piece, however relying on Jeff Green, Ian Mahinmi and Austin Rivers isn’t ideal. 

Miami Heat 

The Heat have to endure the first back-to-back of the 2018/19 season, coming off a disappointing loss to the Magic yesterday. Goran Dragic and Josh Richardson both performed solidly in the starting line-up, however it was the bench unit that cost the heat in this one. With a long injury list that features Wayne Ellington, Dion Waiters, Justise Winslow and James Johnson, the heat are up against it right now. That said, they still have capable players up and down the roster that can get the job done. I think the versatile frontcourt options of Whiteside, Adebayo and Olynyk have the strong potential to cause trouble for the Wizards in this one. 

Prediction: Heat +5.5 

Even after a back-to-back and with all of these injuries, it’s tough for me to look past the heat at this price. Especially through the key number of 5, I believe the Heat have what it takes to keep this game competitive. These are two rather evenly matched teams and I believe this line overvalues the Wizards based on the off-season hype.  

Portland Trail Blazers vs LA Lakers (1:30pm AEDT)
Lakers at the Line (+3.5)

Portland Trail Blazers 

After a strong regular season that saw Portland end up as the #3 seed, they struggled mightily in the playoffs and were swept by the Pelicans in the first round. Questions have been raised about the future of Head Coach Terry Stotts, who will look for his team to get off to a strong start here. Guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum are the unquestioned leaders of this team, whilst Al-Farouq Aminu and Maurice Harkless are underrated contributors. Even after last year’s #3 seed, many are predicting Portland to miss the playoffs in 2018/19. With LeBron James coming to town, this is the perfect opportunity to make a statement. 

Los Angeles Lakers 

With the arrival of LeBron James this off-season, the Lakers have become one of the most talked about teams in the NBA. LeBron has brought with him a host of free agents, with the mercurial trio of Rajon Rondo, JaVale McGee and Lance Stephenson all donning the purple and gold this season. This helps to supplement an exciting young Lakers core, featuring Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Hart. Whilst the addition of LeBron will cover up a lot of flaws, many analysts have questioned both the shooting ability and interior defence of this Lakers side. To compete with the elites of the West, these are questions that will need to be answered. 

Prediction: Lakers +3.5 

It’s always tough to gauge what the line should be when teams change as drastically as the Lakers have this offseason. With the limited information we have available, this appears to be a toss-up game to me. LeBron is clearly the best player on the court here and I believe he has the necessary support to get the Lakers a cover. 

Thursday October 18, 2018

22 NBA teams will get their seasons underway here in what is always one of the most exciting days of the season. There are some enticing matchups on display, including the Houston Rockets playing host to the Pelicans and the LA Clippers welcoming the Nuggets to Hollywood. Let’s take a look at 4 of the best games on the board today, with a daily multi thrown in for good measure.

Charlotte Hornets vs Milwaukee Bucks (10am AEDT)
Bucks at the Line (-2)

Hornets 

The Hornets are starting fresh in 2018/19, firing Head Coach Steve Clifford after a disappointing 36-win season. Led by All-Star Point Guard Kemba Walker, the Hornets boast a well-rounded starting five that lacks any significant weaknesses. The off-season acquisition of Tony Parker should definitely help a bench unit that struggled mightily last season. Whilst I expect an improved season from the Hornets, coming up against Giannis and Co will likely prove a difficult start to the season. 

Bucks 

Buoyed by the addition of new Head Coach Mike Budenholzer, big things are expected of the Bucks this season. Star Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo is predicted by many to be the league MVP this year, whilst the Bucks have every shot at a top 4 seed in the East. Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez are great supporting pieces that should complement Giannis well. Aussies Matthew Dellavedova and Thon Maker could also prove to be strong contributors off the bench. 

Prediction: Bucks -2 

Giannis is by far and away the best player on the court in this one. Similarly, I believe the Bucks second unit has a big advantage over Charlotte’s. Combine these two factors with the Bucks coaching advantage and I expect an opening day Milwaukee win. 

Houston Rockets vs New Orleans Pelicans (11am AEDT)
Pelicans at the Line (+7.5)

Rockets 

Fresh off a 65-win season, the Rockets head into the 2018/19 campaign on a somewhat disappointing note. Their poor off-season has fans and analysts alike wondering whether they can improve on last year’s effort. Led by James Harden, Chris Paul and Clint Capela, the Rockets have a strong starting line-up capable of troubling most teams in the association. They face a tricky encounter in game 1, playing host to the upstart New Orleans Pelicans. 

Pelicans 

After a surprise Conference semi-final appearance last season, things are looking up for the Pelicans. Star man Anthony Davis is amongst the favourites for MVP, whilst the addition of Julius Randle makes for an intriguing big man rotation. Point Guard Jrue Holiday leads the back court for New Orleans and will need to maintain his stellar play for the Pelicans to improve off of last season.  

Prediction: Pelicans +7.5 

Through the key number of 7, I feel relatively confident taking the Pelicans here. I expect the big man trio of Davis, Randle and Nikola Mirotic to cause some trouble against the Rockets interior. Coming off of a deep playoff run, it could be some time before the Rockets are back to their best. Rockets in a tight one, with the Pelicans covering the spread.

Sacramento Kings vs Utah Jazz (1pm AEDT)
Jazz at the Line (-6.5)

Kings 

Based on off-season activity, the Kings look like a front-runner for the worst team in the NBA this year. That said, their young core should make for some exciting and fast-paced basketball. De’Aaron Fox and Buddy Hield make for an interesting young backcourt, whilst #2 draft pick Marvin Bagley headlines a list of exciting young Kings big men. Up Against a strong Utah team that they don’t match up well with, I can’t see Sacramento covering the 6.5-point spread. 

Jazz 

Utah ended the 2017/18 season in incredible form, winning 29 of their last 35. They parlayed that into an excellent first-round series win over the fancied Oklahoma City Thunder. Led by Center Rudy Gobert and Shooting Guard Donovan Mitchell, Utah are a team I expect big things from this season. They have one of the deepest rosters in the NBA at all 5 positions, in addition to their strong home-court advantage. In Quin Snyder, they also have one of the best and most underrated coaches in the NBA. I expect the Jazz to make light work of teams like the Kings this year. 

Prediction: Jazz -6.5 

I expect Utah to push for 55 wins this season. If they’re to achieve this, these are the types of games they have to win. Utah has the significant talent edge on both ends of the court in this one. I predict that they’ll go into Sacramento, put in a professional performance and walk away with a double-digit victory. 

LA Clippers vs Denver Nuggets
Nuggets at the Line (-1)

Clippers 

Without their former ‘Big 3’ of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan, the Clippers are starting afresh in 2018/19. They have a deep and versatile roster, with capable players at all 5 positions. However, there appears to be a lack of star talent on this team, which could lead to them struggling in the clutch. Avery Bradley, Danilo Gallinari and Tobias Harris make for an interesting wing rotation, whilst Lou Williams adds a scoring punch off the bench. Led by veteran Coach Doc Rivers, the Clippers are a team who could surprise a few this season. 

Nuggets 

After narrowly missing the playoffs last season, the Nuggets enter 2018/19 with a renewed sense of optimism. Their starting five is one of the most dynamic in the entire association and I expect Denver to be amongst the league leaders in points this season. Paul Millsap and Nikola Jokic form the foundation of an excellent front court and are complimented nicely by Gary Harris and Jamal Murray in the backcourt.  

Prediction: Denver -1 

For me, Denver is the much better team here. I believe they have a legitimate shot at the #4 seed and these are the games they’ll need to win to get there. I expect the Nuggets offensive firepower to prove too much as they win this by 7. 

Pacers, Pistons, Raptors All to Win
Combined Odds of $2.28

I’m keeping it simple with the daily multi today. These are three home teams with a noticeable talent advantage in each matchup. Each of these teams has playoff aspirations and will look to get off to a solid start on their own home court. As far as multis go, this represents good value at $2.28 in this early part of the season.

Wednesday October 17, 2018

The highly anticipated first day of the NBA season is finally here. With the Celtics hosting the 76ers and the Warriors hosting the Thunder, we have two marquee matchups that are sure to entertain. After last year’s testy playoff series, this Celtics vs 76ers matchup will provide a great gauge as to how these two teams have progressed. Similarly, there is no love lost between the Warriors and Thunder, especially since the departure of Kevin Durant. Whilst the rivalry has become one-sided with the Warriors dominance, these tend to be very hard-fought affairs. After a 4-month layoff, let’s take a look at where the value lies here.

Boston Celtics vs Philadelphia 76ers (11am AEDT)
Celtics at the Line (-5)

Boston Celtics

Buoyed by the return of star players Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving, the Celtics head into this season as the favourite in the Eastern Conference. A starting five of Irving, Jaylen Brown, Hayward, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford features impressive levels of shooting and defensive versatility. Add in a bench unit featuring players such as Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Marcus Morris and Aussie Aron Baynes, and you have a deep and talented roster capable of withstanding injuries. Led by Head Coach Brad Stevens, many punters are projecting the Celtics to have the most wins in the NBA this season. They’ll face their first tough test of the season here as they host the 76ers in a rematch of last year’s Conference Semi-Finals.

Philadelphia 76ers

Led by stars Joel Embiid and Aussie phenom Ben Simmons, big things are expected of the 76ers this season. They enjoyed a phenomenal second half to last season, cruising to the 3rd seed in the East and a comfortable first-round playoff series victory over the Miami Heat. Unfortunately, they were no match for the Celtics in the second round, losing the series 4-1. The unit of Simmons, Redick, Covington, Saric and Embiid proved to be one of the best in the NBA last season and should see big minutes again in 2018/19. Whilst I expect another strong season from the 76ers this year, coming up against a tough defence and raucous Boston crowd doesn’t make for an easy start.

Prediction: Celtics -5

Even without Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, the Celtics proved far too strong for the 76ers in last season’s playoff series. I believe they have a slight advantage with their starting line-up and an even bigger advantage with their bench. Buoyed by their raucous home crowd and a strong Brad Stephens game plan, I expect the Celtics to simply out-talent the Sixers here en route to victory. At only 5 points, I believe this line to be 2-3 points too short. As such, I’ve got no qualms about backing the Celtics here and expect them to win this one by about 10.

Additional Tip: Under 208.5

With two strong defensive teams, I believe that a 208.5 total represents some good value on the under. Joel Embiid is a force at the rim for the Sixers, whilst both the

starting and bench units for the Celtics have very strong defensive versatility. With a shortened pre-season, look for some teams to struggle early offensively as they look to establish a solid rhythm. I’d expect a final points total of around 200 in this one and have strong confidence in the under.

Golden State Warriors vs Oklahoma City Thunder (1:30pm AEDT)
Warriors 1st Half Line (-6)

Golden State Warriors

The back-to-back defending champions will have their ring ceremony here at Oracle as they play host to the rival Thunder. All-stars Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green will carry the load here, with third-year Center Damian Jones rounding out the starting five. Veterans Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala also combine nicely with youngsters Kevon Looney and Jordan Bell to create a balanced unit capable of maintaining the big leads that the starters build. I’m predicting another championship season for the Warriors, one that should start off on the right track here at home. Buoyed by the ring ceremony and the best home-court advantage in the NBA, I’m expecting another statement victory from the Warriors here.

Oklahoma City Thunder

It’s been an eventful past 6 months for the Oklahoma City Thunder. After managing the #4 seed and home-court in the 2018 playoffs, the Thunder were upset by the Utah Jazz in a feisty first-round series. This led to the releasing of Forward Carmelo Anthony, whilst Paul George opted to sign a new 4-year deal in an unexpected turn of events.

Expectations have been high for the Thunder heading into this season, however they face the biggest challenge in the NBA here on the road in Oakland. With Shooting Guard Andre Roberson out and star Point Guard Russell Westbrook questionable, this could be an even more difficult test for OKC to negotiate. They haven’t had much success in Oracle Arena recently, a trend which I expect to continue here.

Warriors -6 1st Half

Especially with a questionable Westbrook, I believe the Warriors are the significantly better team here. Oracle Arena is an absolute fortress and is a venue where many teams find themselves out of the game in only the first quarter. Whilst a full game line of 11.5 points provides some backdoor cover opportunities, I expect the Warriors to come out red hot in this one. A line of only 6 points is really just two possessions for this team and I can definitely see a double-digit half-time lead for Golden State here.

Warriors & Celtics to Win
Combined Odds of $1.61

For those looking to place a multi today, it’s hard to look past the Warriors/Celtics duo at the moneyline. Paying a generous $1.61, I predict both of these teams to get up relatively comfortably. Both of them have the noticeable talent edge in addition to very strong home-court advantages. In a usually unpredictable NBA, I feel quite confident about the two favourites here.