[B][I]Western Conference Capsules
October 8, 2017[/I][/B]
Teams are listed alphabetically with the Westgate SuperBook season win opening totals on 8/29 in parenthesis.
[B]Dallas Mavericks (35.5)[/B] – The big news in the offseason was that rather than bringing new impact talent to the team, owner Mark Cuban decided instead to re-ink Dirk Nowitzki, Nerlens Noel and Yogi Ferrell. The new point guard this season, though, figures to be 19-year old Dennis Smith Jr. from NC State, the ninth pick in this year’s draft. His play in the Las Vegas summer camp drew comparisons to famous point guards like Derrick Rose, Penny Hardaway, and Steve Francis. While the core from last year’s team is largely in place, it was a team that managed to win only 33 games. That’s not good news in the fierce Western Conference.
[B]Betting nugget:[/B] The Mavs are 2-12 SU and 1-12-1 ATS as favorites against .680 or greater division opponents since 2008.
[B]Denver Nuggets (45.5) [/B]– The 40 wins registered by the Nuggets left them one game shy of Portland for the 8th and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Season win-total 34.5 last year. The biggest offseason move was trading Danilo Gallinari to the L.A. Clippers and acquiring four-time All-Star Paul Millsap in return from Atlanta. Center Nikola Jokic exploded and was voted the league’s second most improved player (behind the Greek freak, Gianis Antetokounmpo. Aside from Jokic, the other strength is the team’s point guard position where Jameer Nelson, Jamal Murray, and Emmanuel Mudiay will be splitting minutes.
[B]Betting nugget: [/B]Denver is 35-15-1 ATS as a dog off a loss since December of 2015, including 24-7-1 ATS away.
[B]Golden State Warriors (67.5)[/B] – The icing on the cake in the Warriors’ 67-win regular season last year was its performance in the postseason where they lost only one game, in the NBA finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The bad news for the rest of the league is that this year’s roster looks a lot like last year’s with the exception of G Nick Young coming over from the Lakers. The only question remaining is whether a Cavs-Warriors IV showdown in on the horizon.
[B]Betting nugget:[/B] The Warriors are 0-9 ATS as favorites of 9 or more points without rest against rested opponents.
[B]Houston Rockets (55.5)[/B] – Houston represents the biggest jump of all team’s season win total from last year to this (Rockets 41.5 last year). It’s predicated largely on the fact that the Rockets recorded 55 regular season victories last season. Not factored in, however, is the loss of G’s Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams, which was done in order to bring Chris Paul in from the Clippers. Interestingly, other than the 56 wins they recorded two seasons ago you have to go back to the 1996-97 season find a Houston team that won more games than that number.
[B]Betting nugget:[/B] Houston is 3-14-1 ATS as division road favorites of more than 7 or more points.
[B]L.A. Clippers (43.5)[/B] – The 10-game drop from last year’s 53.5 win total is based largely in Chris Paul’s defection to Houston. Thus the question begs whether or not there is value at this reduced number. The additions of G’s Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams from the Rockets, along with F’s Danilo Gallinari (Nuggets) and Sam Dekker, adds plenty of punch. With Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan underneath it’s my feeling the ‘over’ may be one of the better season-win totals being offered this season.
[B]Betting nugget:[/B] The Clippers are 6-24 SU and 8-22 ATS as home dogs against Western Conference opponents off a SUATS loss.
[B]Los Angeles Lakers (33.5)[/B] – Is the Lakers 9 game hike from last year’s 24.5 win total a result of Lonzo Ball, or the departure of Timofey Mozgov (just kidding)? Either way, last year’s 26-season wins surpassed only the Phoenix Suns. In addition, while Brook Lopez and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope head out to LA LA land, the loss of Nick Young and D’Angelo Russell cannot be underestimated. With the pressure squarely on rookie Ball’s shoulders, expect the purple-and-gold to remain stuck in their losing ways in the fierce Western Conference again this campaign.
[B]Betting nugget:[/B] The Lakers are 8-16 ATS home on Sundays in non-division games, including 1-9 SUATS when not getting 5 or more points.
[B]Memphis Grizzlies (37.5) [/B]– Losses from last year’s roster of Toy Allen, Zach Randolph, and Vince Carter last year, with no draft picks this season and only the addition of Tyreke Evans shrunk the Grizzlies season win total from 43.5 last year to 37.5 this season. Randolph’s departure after with eight seasons leaves the team thin at power forward. Landing a playoff spot will be an accomplishment this season. They will go only as far as All-Star PG Mike Conley can carry them.
[B]Betting nugget:[/B] Memphis is 7-21-1 ATS as division favorites against foes off a double-digit loss, including 0-7-1 ATS the last eight games.
[B]Minnesota Timberwolves (48)[/B] – I read where the last time the Timberwolves made the playoffs was when Karl-Anthony Towns was just 8 years old. With the addition of Jimmy Butler and the presence of Andrew Wiggins, only the Golden State Warriors will feature a starting lineup with three players who averaged more than 20 points per game last season. A rise of 6.5 wins from last year’s 41.5-season win total might be a reach, though.
[B]Betting nugget: [/B]The Wolves are 13-36 ATS as non-division home dogs, including 2-16 ATS as dogs of 6 or more points.
[B]New Orleans Pelicans (39.5)[/B] – Newly acquired PG Rajon Rondo is on record as saying he thinks his job with the Pelicans will be the “easiest I’ve ever had.” That’s because he’ll be feeding Antonio Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and Jrue Holiday. The fact of the matter is the Pelicans won 34 games last season despite dropping their first 8 games right out of the gate, all while adjusting to Cousins joining the team in late February. Color this sleeper squad dangerous.
[B]Betting nugget:[/B] The Pelicans are 29-8 ATS as division home dogs since 2007, including 25-2 ATS versus .580 or greater opponents.
[B]Oklahoma City Thunder (51.5)[/B] – Yes, the power additions of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony put the Thunder just behind the Golden State Warriors as the team to beat in the West, but you’re not stealing anything, here, though as last year’s season win total was 45.5, and Anthony’s addition has raised the bar to 53.5 wins. So in one year, the franchise goes from it’s lowest moment with the defection of Kevin Durant to the Warriors to its most promising with the new Big Three now in place. Remember, while 54 wins look attainable on paper, life in the volatile Western Conference can be perilous. Be careful here.
[B]Betting nugget: [/B]The Thunder is 25-9-1 ATS without rest following a loss against unrested opponents, including 10-1-1 ATS as a dog.
[B]Phoenix Suns (28.5)[/B] – Top draft pick Josh Jackson, the No. 4 overall player in this year’s NBA draft, was impressive in the 2017 NBA Summer League, averaging 17.4 PPG and 9.2 RPG. He will be a starter at the small forward position for the Suns this season. In addition, SG Davon Reed, the 32nd pick this year’s draft, also performed in the Summer League, averaging 14.9 PPG and 4.9 RPG. Unfortunately, he suffered a knee injury and will be out 4-6months. With Brandon Knight’s season-ending ACL injury, beyond Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker, there is not much talent or depth on this team and the Suns will be light in the backcourt. While they discarded a lot of dead wood, they are young and rebuilding. Anything higher than the cellar will be an accomplishment.
[B]Betting nugget:[/B] The Suns are 21-6 ATS as home dogs against foes off back-to-back SUATS wins, including 18-4 ATS in non-division games.
[B]Portland Trail Blazers (42.5)[/B] – The Blazers edged out the Nuggets for the final playoff spot last season. This season, with Denver and Minnesota stronger and Portland virtually unchanged from last year’s squad, there figures to be a heated battled for the final two spots in the Western Conference playoff race. Once again guards Damon Lillard and CJ McCollum will lead the charge. The key, however, will be continued improvement from C Jusuf Nurkic, who exploded onto the scene with Portland following his mid-season acquisition from Denver.
[B]Betting nugget:[/B] The Blazers are 30-17-1 ATS as division home dogs, including 6-0 ATS following a win of 6 or more points.
[B]Sacramento Kings (28.5)[/B] – Despite an inability to find a consistent starting lineup last season with the mid-season trade of DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans, the Kings still managed to win 32 games. They added plenty of young talent this offseason, along with a few veterans (read: Zach Randolph, George Hill, and Vince Carter – who seems like he’s 50 years old). De’Aaron Fox (the 5th pick in this year’s draft from Kentucky) and Frank Mason III (college basketball’s Player of the Year last season) are welcome additions. With the continued maturation of SG Buddy Hield, look for the improvement to continue in Sacramento this season.
[B]Betting nugget:[/B] The Kings are 14-7 ATS as double-digit division road dogs, including 7-1 ATS following a double-digit loss.
[B]San Antonio Spurs (54.5)[/B] – Spurs won 61 regular season games last season en route to winning the Southwest Division. The core of the team returns along with new addition Rudy Gay (18.7 PPG and 6.3 RPG) who will serve as the team’s 6th man. In addition, the team re-signed C Pau Gasol to a three-year contract extension. Behind team MVP Kawhi Leonard, who will miss the preseason nursing a quad injury, I still make them the team to beat ahead of the Rockets in their division.
[B]Betting nugget:[/B] The Spurs are 22-10-3 ATS at home without rest, including 13-2-1 ATS following consecutive wins.
[B]Utah Jazz (40.5)[/B] – Last year’s season win total for the Northwest Division-winning Jazz was 47.5 so an adjustment has certainly been made for the loss of All-Star F Gordon Hayward and PG George Hill. Ricky Rubio was brought in to secure the backcourt. If newly acquired Thabo Sefolosha (Atlanta) steps up, and Derrick Favors can return to his usual 16 PPG and 8.0 RPG the Jazz, and be playoff performers once again this season. But there are certainly a lot of ‘ifs’ that need to happen.
[B]Betting nugget:[/B] Utah is a long-term 27-5 SU and 23-8-1 ATS home off a win against non-rested foes off consecutive SUATS losses, including 19-2 Su and 17-3-1 ATS in non-division games.
[B][I]Eastern Conference Capsules
October 1, 2017[/I][/B]
Teams are listed alphabetically with the Westgate SuperBook season win opening totals on 8/29 in parenthesis.
[B]Atlanta Hawks (25.5) [/B]– Offseason losses of Dwight Howard, Paul Millsap, and Tim Hardaway Jr. ensures the Hawks’ 10-year playoff streak is history. The more relevant question is whether or not they can surpass the second-lowest win total in the league this season (their season win total was 43.5 last season). It will largely depend upon Dennis Schroder’s efforts this season. They will need last year’s 1st round pick Taurean Prince to step up in what amounts to a first-year total team rebuild.
[B]Betting nugget:[/B] The Hawks are 2-13 ATS as favorites against foes coming off consecutive losses.
[B]Boston Celtics (54)[/B] – They’ve won 101 games the last two regular seasons and traded for PG Kyrie Irving. They also inked All-Star F Gordon Hayward to a lucrative FA contract, reuniting him with Brad Stevens, his former coach at Butler. But the loss of 5’ 9” sparkplug PG Isaiah Thomas, a two-time All-Star the past two seasons and the leader of this team, could prove unsettling early on.
[B]Betting nugget:[/B] The Celtics are 99-76-2 ATS away behind Stevens, including 10-1 ATS as a dog of 12 or more points, but only 1-6 ATS as a favorite of more than 8 points.
[B]Brooklyn Nets (28.5)[/B] – The Nets went into rebuild mode once again in the offseason when PG D’Angelo Russell was added from the Lakers. Upon his arrival, Russell immediately said, “I want teams to hate us,” this season. Remember, had he been drafted in June, Russell would be coming off his junior season at Ohio State. If his inconsistencies iron out, he will be the lynchpin of this team’s future. They also added three-point artist Allen Crabbe, but lost Brook Lopez. Given the current landscape of the Eastern Conference, this team figures to battle Atlanta and Chicago for the cellar in the Eastern Conference this season. Stay tuned. Remember, the Nets season win total was 20.5 last year.
[B]Betting nugget: [/B]This team is a long-term 77-106-3 ATS as a home dog against .666 or greater opponents, including 60-90-3 AST in non-division games.
[B]Charlotte Hornets (42.5) [/B]– The offseason acquisition of C Dwight Howard makes the Hornets formidable. But the fact of the matter is they will go as far as team MVP Kemba Walker takes them. Walker enters of a career-season when he averaged 23.0 PPG while shooting almost 40% from beyond the arc. A strong bench figures to put them nearer the 48 games they won two seasons ago as opposed to the 36 they garnered last campaign.
[B]Betting nugget: [/B]The Hornets are 21-9 ATS in their franchise history in division games against foes off a SU favorite loss, including 10-2 ATS as road dogs.
[B]Chicago Bulls (21.5) –[/B] The lowest season win total in the NBA this season – and in the modern era for the Bulls, for that matter – likely finds Michael Jordan shaking in his sneakers. As a result, things figure to get real ugly in the Windy City this season. No matter how you slice it, Zach Levine and Lauri Markkanen do not spell Jimmy Butler, Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade. Don’t second-guess the oddsmakers. Just fade the reconstructing Bulls whose season win total fell a whopping 17 games from last year’s 38.5 total.
[B]Betting nugget:[/B] The Bulls were 2-10 ATS as favorites against Western Conference opponents last season.
[B]Cleveland Cavaliers (53.5)[/B] – Yes, the loss of star G Kyrie Irving hurts, but the bevy of off-season acquisitions Cleveland has made, including the likes of Isaiah Thomas, Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade, Jae Crowder and Jeff Green, makes this possibly the deepest Cavaliers team they have ever had. Having Kyle Korver from the get-go, along with mainstays with LeBron James, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, and company, makes a 4th straight NBA finals with the Golden State Warriors an odds-on likelihood.
[B]Betting nugget: [/B]The Cavaliers are 83-111-4 in games without rest ATS with LeBron James, including 9-25-2 ATS against foes off consecutive losses.
[B]Detroit Pistons (38.5) –[/B] Year 4 of the Stan Van Gundy era finds the Pistons looking to improve on Detroit’s regular season win totals of 32, 44, and 37 in Van Gundy’s first three seasons, respectively. The addition of former Celtics G Avery Bradley, along with highly anticipated improvement from promising second-year F Stanley Johnson, complimenting PG Reggie Jackson and C Andre Drummond finds the Pistons in a favorable position to get possibly get closer to the 44 win total rather than the first-year 32 victory season under Gundy. Value here from last year’s 45.5 posted win total.
[B]Betting nugget:[/B] The Pistons are 23-38-1 ATS following a double-digit win under Van Gundy, including 9-24-1 ATS as a dog.
[B]Indiana Pacers (31.5) [/B]– It’s 2017 APG in Indiana these days, or life ‘After Paul George’. Sure bringing Victor Oladipo (former Hoosiers star) back to Indiana is neat, and Myles Turner has a world of potential, but other than Lance Stephenson you’ll need a scoreboard to identify others on the roster, especially with Glenn Robinson III out the first two months of the season with a severely sprained ankle. After being a perennial playoff team 6 of the last 7 years, the 31.5-win season total this year tells you all you need to know about where the Pacers are headed in 2017.
[B]Betting nugget:[/B] Indiana is 49-68-1 ATS at home in double no-rest games, including 31-55-1 ATS against Eastern Conference foes, including 13-32-1 ATS when the Pacers are off a win.
[B]Miami Heat (43.5) –[/B] Written off after going 11-30 in its first 41 games last season, Miami changed course and went 30-11 during the 2nd half of the campaign to narrowly miss the playoffs. They inked free agent Kelly Olynyk in the offseason to go along with All-Stars Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside. Watch former Kentucky Wildcat rookie Bam Adebayo, who impressed in the summer league. With SG Dion Waiters under contract, this team can make some noise in the East, especially if former 1st round pick Justice Winslow plays back to his potential.
[B]Betting nugget[/B]: Miami is 12-32-1 ATS at home against division foes off a SU underdog win.
[B]Milwaukee Bucks (47.5) [/B]– The Bucks moved up six spots in the Eastern Conference standings last season en route to their first winning season since 2010. The Greek freak, 22-year old Giannis Antetokounmpo, along with Khris Middleton, Thon Maker and Jabari Parker (out till All-Star Break with torn ACL) makes them playoff contenders once again this season. However, not sure an increase of 8 wins over last year’s 39.5 win total is warranted.
[B]Betting nugget:[/B] The Bucks were 7-16 ATS at home against losing foes last year.
[B]New York Knicks (30.5)[/B] – With the dynamic duo of Phil Jackson and Carmelo Anthony now gone, Vegas feels New York appears 8 wins lighter this season than last, and with the Knicks in rebuild mode, we’d say they appear to be right on. After a full season of ‘what’s going on with Melo’, perhaps New York can get back to playing basketball. “For us, it’s a new start,” said head coach Jeff Hornacek. “The young guys are enthusiastic about the new beginning.” Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr., and first-round pick Frank Ntilikina will lead the charge. One litmus test for the Knicks will be whether Porzingis decides to sign an extension this summer or next. But moving forward, they are now Melo lite.
[B]Betting nugget[/B]: The Knicks are 13-38 ATS as a home dog without rest, including 3-16 ATS following a SUATS loss.
[B]Orlando Magic (33.5) [/B]– Locked in it longest playoff drought in franchise history, the Magic’s youth project has not worked well and this year looks to be no exception. To help kick-start the young kinds they’ve brought in veterans Shelvin Mack, Arron Afflalo, and Marreese Speights. When the best you can say about a team is they aren’t as bad as the Bulls or the Hawks, you’re not saying much. Rising star Nikola Vucevic will keep them in games but the bottom line is you don’t go far in this league without star power.
[B]Betting nugget[/B]: Orlando is 1-18 ATS in its last nineteen games as a division favorite.
[B]Philadelphia 76ers (42.5) [/B]– Call this the ‘Ready To Crash The Party’ crew. After rotting each of the last four years at the bottom of the league standings, the 76ers are ready to make its emergence. Behind the young trio of Joel Embiid, Markelle Fultz, and Ben Simmons, along with Dario Saric and T.J. McConnell, they will feature the youngest corps of starters in the league. Toss in recently acquired J.J. Redick and Jahill Okafor and they automatically go from pretenders to playoff contenders this season. A questionable trade of Nerlens Noel to Dallas for Andrew Bogut, Justin Anderson, and top 18 protected first round pick that turned in the 39th pick in the 2017 draft and a 2018 second round pick was puzzling. Now they are screwed if C Joel Embiid will be unable to stay healthy. The question begs, though: is this year’s contingent 15 games better than last year’s group that opened the season at 27.5 wins last year.
[B]Betting nugget[/B]: Philadelphia is 8-0 ATS as a home dog against non-conference opponents.
[B]Toronto Raptors (48.5) [/B]– We’ll say this, the Raptors’ starting 5 – Kyle Lowry, Demar Rozan, C.J. Miles, Serge Ibaka, and Jonas Valanciunas – is right up there with the best in the Eastern Conference. On the flip side, their bench might be among the worst. The Raptors spent a lot of money to extend contracts to Lowry and Ibaka and as a result, the team didn’t have enough reserves in the till to bring in another high-profile player. As a result, the starting five will need to stay healthy while playing extended minutes. That’s not a desirous combination.
[B]Betting nugget:[/B] The Raptors are 11-3-1 ATS in its last fifteen games as dogs of 4 or more points in non-conference games.
Washington Wizards (47.5)[/B] – One thing is for certain, this year’s Wizards squad will not be sneaking up anyone this season (Washington’s season win total was 42.5 last year). Not after capturing the Southeast Division last season while finishing in 4th place in the Eastern Conference with 49 victories. They brought in and Jodie Meeks from Orlando as a backup shooting guard and Tim Frazier from New Orleans to spot John Wall as the point guard, providing valuable experience off the bench. They will be in a dogfight with Charlotte and Miami for division honors this season.
[B]Betting nugget: [/B]The Wizards are 2-10 ATS as double-digit chalk when playing without rest.
[B][I]NBA notebook: 76ers sign C Embiid to massive extension
October 10, 2017[/I][/B]
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid has played in just 31 games over three NBA seasons but he has landed a big-money contract that typically goes to a star player.
The promising 23-year-old agreed to a five-year, $148 million deal with the 76ers, who publicly announced the agreement on Tuesday.
The 7-foot Embiid averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocked shots in the games he played and brought significant energy to the squad. He missed his first two seasons with right foot woes and suffered a knee injury last season that ended his campaign after 31 games.
[B]–New Orleans Pelicans [/B]point guard Rajon Rondo underwent surgery for a sports hernia and will miss four to six weeks.
The Pelicans said the operation was to repair a core muscle injury.
Rondo was injured in the first quarter of Friday’s preseason contest against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
[B]–The New York Knicks[/B] will wear the logo of website publishing platform Squarespace on their jerseys this season.
Terms were not disclosed by the Knicks, who became the 17th NBA team to sign a deal to wear an advertising patch on their jerseys. Squarespace, which was founded in 2003, is based in New York and reached $100 million in revenue in 2015. It has raised nearly $80 million from investors in the last seven years, according to ESPN.
The logo will begin appearing on Knicks jerseys for Friday night’s preseason game against the Washington Wizards.
[B][I]James returns, Cavaliers debut new 3-MVP starting lineup
October 10, 2017[/I][/B]
The King has returned.
LeBron James made his preseason debut Tuesday night after missing Cleveland’s first three games with a sprained left ankle. He scored 17 points, but also had eight turnovers in the 108-94 loss to the Chicago Bulls.
It was the first chance for James to play with close friend and former Miami Heat teammate Dwyane Wade as the Cavaliers showed off their new starting lineup. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue brought out his new starting group for the first time now that James is back. He was joined by Wade, Kevin Love and newcomers Derrick Rose and Jae Crowder. Lue announced the lineup, which includes three former MVPs on Monday. James and Rose have won regular-season MVPs and Wade was the 2006 Finals MVP.
Rose finished with 13 points and Iman Shumpert added 12.
”Tonight, I was off. I could feel it,” James said. ”It’s just my first action since the Finals and my timing was a little off and turnovers, I think, just trickled down to everybody. So, I made everyone’s timing off.”
The starting five was expectedly rusty with the group having spent little time together. Wade was just bought out by the Bulls on Sept. 24. Crowder and Isaiah Thomas went to Cleveland as part of the Kyrie Irving trade on Aug. 30. And Love was just recently informed that he’d be moving to center with the unit from power forward.
Love and Wade were a combined 2 for 19 Tuesday.
”I don’t think we’ll be the team we want to be in a week,” James said. ”It’s going to be for the whole season. We’re going to have changes, we’re going to make changes, we’re going to become a better team as the games go on. So, the team opening night will not be the team that we know we can be.
”We’ve only practiced for two weeks and you play on the third week, that’s not like a lot of time to prepare, especially when you have so many new guys playing here.”
Rose will move to the bench once Thomas returns from a hip injury expected to keep him out for months. That second unit will then be a formidable group with a mixture of Rose, J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert, Kyle Korver and Jeff Green.
As the Cavs maneuver a veteran-laden roster, the young Bulls move on from the Jimmy Butler era. Justin Holiday scored a game-high 28 points and 2017 No. 7 overall pick Lauri Markkanen poured in 18. Denzel Valentine finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
UP NEXT: The Cavs (0-4) travel to face the Magic on Friday. The Bulls (3-2) host the Raptors on Friday.
RAPTORS 116, PISTONS 94[/B]
The Raptors never trailed as newcomer CJ Miles scored 19 points off the bench, including a 5-for-8 effort from 3-point range.
Ish Smith led the Pistons with a game-high 22 points off the bench as the starting five struggled.
PISTONS: Langston Galloway scored 16 off the bench and Andre Drummond finished with 14 points and 11 points. Detroit’s starters shot just 13 for 39 (33.3 percent) from the floor.
RAPTORS: Jonas Valanciunas scored 18 and grabbed 11 rebounds in the victory. Serge Ibaka added 14 and DeMar DeRozan chipped in 13.
UP NEXT: The Pistons (2-2) travel to face the Bucks on Friday. The Raptors (2-2) travel to face the Bulls on Friday.
PACERS 108, MACCABI HAIFA 89
Newly acquired Victor Oladipo did a little bit of everything for the Pacers as he scored 18, grabbed five rebounds, handed out four assists and had five steals.
Former Atlanta Hawk Josh Smith scored 16 and pulled down seven rebounds in the loss.
HAIFA: The NBA exhibition tour continued for Maccabi. Angel Rodriguez scored 15 and Oz Blayzer and Samardo Samuels added 14 apiece. Haifa actually outscored the Pacers 56-47 in the second and third quarters combined.
PACERS: Darren Collison scored 15 as Indiana navigates a world without Paul George. Bojan Bogdanovic scored 13 and Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis each scored 12 in the win.
UP NEXT: The Pacers (3-1) open the regular season by hosting the Nets on Oct. 18. Maccabi Haifa (0-2) travels to face the Trail Blazers on Friday.
[SIZE=4][COLOR=”#A52A2A”][B]NBA Southwest betting preview and odds: Can new-look Rockets dethrone Spurs?[/B][/COLOR][/SIZE]
[I]Chris Paul is teaming up with James Harden in Houston with hopes of knocking Golden State from its throne, but the Rockets can’t overlook the Spurs, who have won 50-plus games in 18 straight seasons and the division title in six of the last seven years.[/I]
[B]Houston Rockets (2016-17: 55-27 SU, 42-40 ATS)[/B]
Odds to Win the Division: -120
Season Win Total: Over 55.5 -132/Under 55.5 +113
Why TO bet the Rockets: James Harden carried his team to 55 wins last season, up from 41 wins the season before when he was paired with Dwight Howard, and now he gets a huge upgrade with the addition of Chris Paul. The Rockets were ranked No. 2 in scoring offense so they could run with anyone but they finished No. 26 in scoring defense. Houston picked up P.J. Tucker and Luc Mbah A Moute to help shore up that defense so if all the parts gel, this is a team to contend with the Warriors.
Why NOT to bet the Rockets: The addition of Paul adds another star to the team but as effective as the offense was last season, he cannot just be inserted and expect it to get better. The Rockets relied on threes and dunks but Paul is a mid-range player so the offense will have to be adjusted to fit around the parts. That could be a problem on both ends of the floor so early on, Houston could struggle. While the Rockets got better with key additions, the Western Conference got better as a whole as well.
Season Win Total Pick: Over 55.5 -132
[B]San Antonio Spurs (2016-17: 61-21 SU, 41-39-2 ATS)[/B]
Odds to Win the Division: +130
Season Win Total: Over 54.5 -130/Under 54.5 +110
Why TO bet the Spurs: Year in and year out, the Spurs are the best coached team in the NBA and Greg Popovich brings the best out of his team in his system. After winning 61 games last season, the Spurs did not do much in the offseason but it was not necessary as they were No. 2 in the West last year. San Antonio signed Rudy Gay to add some solid depth off the bench and I still possesses one of the most underrated players in the NBA in Kawhi Leonard and it showed after he went down in the playoffs.
Why NOT to bet the Spurs: Even though we say it every year and it backfires, San Antonio is not getting any younger. Tony Parker is hurt, Manu Ginobili is coming back for his 16th season and Pau Gasol is 37. As we saw in the playoffs, the Spurs are a Leonard injury away of calling it a season as there is no one on the roster that can carry this team. That includes LaMarcus Aldridge who has averaged 17.6 ppg in two seasons after averaging over 22 ppg in his last five seasons in Portland.
Season Win Total Pick: Under 54.5 +110
[B]New Orleans Pelicans (2016-17: 34-48 SU, 39-42-1 ATS)[/B]
Odds to Win the Division: +1400
Season Win Total: Over 39.5 -112/Under 39.5 -104
Why TO bet the Pelicans: The experiment to have Anthony Davis coexist with DeMarcus Cousins failed to get the Pelicans into the playoffs nut they were together for only 25 games last season. Now together for a full season, the potential is there to be one of the best frontcourts we have ever seen. Couple that with the resigning of Jrue Holiday and the signing of Rajon Rondo, and this is a legitimate playoff contender. New Orleans is in the weakest division of the Western Conference which does not hurt.
Why NOT to bet the Pelicans: While 25 games is not a big sample size, it is big enough to show that the two big guys might not be able to work together. They will both stuff the boxscore but individual performances will not help as working together to be more efficient goes a long way. Holiday is being moved to the two-spot to make room for Rondo so that could take time. There is very little depth coming off the bench so Alvin Gentry could have his hands full in saving his job.
Season Win Total Pick: Over 39.5 -112
[B]Memphis Grizzlies (2016-17: 43-39 SU, 41-41 ATS)[/B]
Odds to Win the Division: +2000
Season Win Total: Over 37.5 -124/Under 37.5 +106
Why TO bet the Grizzlies: The core of the Grizzlies has been together for a while now so there is no learning curve like a lot of other teams in the Western Conference have to endure. Memphis did lose Zack Randolph and Tony Allen but there is not a big dropoff especially if Chandler Parsons can stay healthy. He was a huge disappointment as he played just 34 games and averaged only 6.2 ppg because of a knee injury. If he gets back to his Rockets/Mavericks form, it will be huge for the Grizzlies.
Why NOT to bet Grizzlies: While the core is still in place, Memphis will be playing faster this season as their old system of being a slower paced team does not work in this conference. This could take time to come together. Going faster also means their defense will be hurt which was a No. 7 unit last season. The Grizzlies made no big free agent signings in the off season to close the gap and come February, they could be once again fighting for a bottom seed in the playoffs.
Season Win Total Pick: Under 37.5 +106
[B]Dallas Mavericks (2016-17: 33-49 SU, 43-38-1 ATS)[/B]
Odds to Win the Division: +5000
Season Win Total: Over 35.5 Even/Under 35.5 -117
Why TO bet the Mavericks: This is a team in transition and as is the case with a lot of teams like this, there is value to be had as people are already writing them off. The Mavericks had the sixth worst record in the Western Conference but the third best record against the number which proves that. Harrison Barnes, Wes Matthews and Seth Curry form a nice nucleus and rookie Dennis Smith Jr. is expected to be the real deal. Dirk Nowitzki is back and while he is on the decline, he can still be clutch.
Why NOT to bet the Mavericks: Nowitzki is no longer the dominant player he used to be and the Mavericks are coming off their worst season in 17 years so things are not looking good for this once proud franchise. The Mavericks will be relying on a rookie to lead the team at the point and if Smith cannot adjust quickly, it will be a long season. Dallas resigned center Nerlens Noel and while he is a solid defender, his offense is not where it needs to be. A lot of questions surround the Mavericks.
[SIZE=4][COLOR=”#A52A2A”][B]NBA Southeast betting preview and odds: Nobody beats the Wiz[/B][/COLOR][/SIZE]
[I]There might not be a better collection of mismanaged teams in the Association than four of the five teams residing in the Southeast Division.[/I]
[B]Atlanta Hawks (2016-17: 43-39 SU, 39-43 ATS)[/B]
Odds to Win the Division: +1200
Season Win Total: 25.5
Why to bet the Hawks: Well, they are going to be underdogs – at least. No team is projected to take a bigger step back than the Hawks this season. This team won 43 games a year ago, fifth most in the Eastern Conference and it was just three seasons ago when it won 60 games and finished with the best regular season record in the East.
This team has made the playoffs for 10 consecutive years. There probably is a bit of value in betting the Over on the season win total simply due to the size of the projected decline.
Why not to bet the Hawks: Dennis Schroder is their best player – by a wide margin. The playoff streak is a virtual lock to end as the team is significantly weaker on paper and every other team in the division is improved. Keep in mind that last year’s team was actually outscored and this year’s group will not match the 5-0 overtime record from a year ago. Atlanta isn’t the worst team in the East, but the team is closer to the bottom than the playoffs.
Season Win Total Pick: Over 25.5
[B]Charlotte Hornets (2016-17: 36-46 SU, 35-44-3 ATS)[/B]
Odds to Win the Division: +650
Season Win Total: 42.5
Why to bet the Hornets: This team is on my short list for most improved. Last year’s record fails to reflect a lot of poor luck, namely a horrendous 0-9 straight up record in games decided by three points or fewer (were also 0-6 in OT!).
They actually outscored opponents over the course of the season and ranked in the top 10 defensively most of the way. A simple progression to the mean would have probably been enough to push the Hornets into the playoffs. But the roster looks to be improved as well. Well, that’s if Dwight Howard has his head on straight. Nic Batum and Cody Zeller also need to be healthy.
Why not to bet the Hornets: Reportedly, Atlanta Hawks’ players openly cheered upon learning of Howard’s trade here. Batum got injured in the preseason and will be out 6-8 weeks, though the team got good news when it was learned surgery would not be required to repair the elbow ligament.
The Hornets were terrible with Zeller off the floor last year. Their net rating fell from +5.5 to -3.6 and he missed 20 games due to injury. It was a similar story when Kemba Walker didn’t play or was on the bench. This is not a deep team.
Season Win Total Pick: Over 42.5
[B]Miami Heat (2016-17: 41-41 SU, 48-33-1 ATS)[/B]
Odds to Win the Division: +600
Season Win Total: 43.5
Why to bet the Heat: Like Charlotte, this was a non-playoff team that was actually better than some of the actual playoff teams. The Heat’s points per game differential (+1.1) was fifth best in the East. They appeared to be dead in the water after starting the season 11-30, but they finished 30-11 over the second half.
Why not to bet the Heat: Can Goran Dragic, Dion Waiters and James Johnson all repeat career years? Probably not. A better question would be will any of them repeat the career years? That’s not guaranteed. On a game by game basis, you’re unlikely to get the Heat as well-priced as they were last year, which enabled them to finish near the top of the league’s ATS (48-33-1) standings.
Season Win Total Pick: Over 43.5
[B]Orlando Magic (2016-17: 29-53 SU, 39-42-1 ATS)[/B]
Odds To Win the Division: +1000
Season Win Total: 33.5
Why to bet the Magic: This moribund franchise has to make some sort of leap sooner or later, right? Right?
In all seriousness, this should be the best Magic team in years. With all the lottery picks in recent years, there’s some decent talent on hand, even if it’s all young. Frank Vogel is a good coach that preaches defense and if the Magic improve in that area, they’ll be able to stay in a lot of games and cash routinely as underdogs.
Why not to bet the Magic: When Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon are your best players, there are still question marks. This team was outscored last year by a number similar to 20-game winner Brooklyn. There’s a new front office, so that means some of the players they inherited could be dealt. Last year, the Magic ranked 24th in points per possession and 29th in points allowed.
[B]Washington Wizards (2016-17: 49-33 SU, 42-39-1 ATS)[/B]
Odds to Win The Division: -125
Season Win Total: 47.5
Why to bet the Wizards: As indicated by the odds, this is a heavy favorite to repeat at Southeast Division champs. The nucleus from last year’s 49-win team is back. Bradley Beal and John Wall form one of the league’s best backcourts. Otto Porter, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat make it a strong starting five overall. They look like a 50-win team on paper.
Odds to Win The Division: -125
Season Win Total: 47.5
Why to bet the Wizards: As indicated by the odds, this is a heavy favorite to repeat at Southeast Division champs. The nucleus from last year’s 49-win team is back. Bradley Beal and John Wall form one of the league’s best backcourts. Otto Porter, Markieff Morris and Marcin Gortat make it a strong starting five overall. They look like a 50-win team on paper.
Why not to bet the Wizards: Can they improve again after jumping from 41 to 49 wins a year ago? An injury to Wall or Beal, particularly the former, would be devastating. While the Wiz did clean up against losing teams (27-9 SU record), they went just 22-24 SU against foes that were .500 or better. They had one of the worst bench units in the league a year ago and haven’t done anything to address the problem.
[SIZE=4][COLOR=”#A52A2A”][B]NBA Atlantic betting preview and odds: Celtics’ division to lose[/B][/COLOR][/SIZE]
[I]There are plenty of storylines in the NBA’s Atlantic division with the retooled Boston Celtics expected to dominate at the top of the standings. Other than the C’s the Raptors are possibly a team in transition, the 76ers are trending up, and the Nets and Knicks are…well…the Nets and Knicks.[/I]
Odds to Win the Division: -500
Season Win Total: 53.5
Why to Bet On The Celtics: The addition of Kyrie Irving makes their starting lineup top notch. Irving will pair nicely with Gordon Hayward who does more then just score. The team has solid depth all over, and players who fill their role nicely, including rookie Jayson Tatum who could be the best player from this draft class. Al Horford bangs down low, but also has some ability from the outside. To top it off, Brad Stevens is one of the best coaches in the league.
Why not bet the Celtics: The team could take some time to gel with so many new pieces. They are also relatively undersized inside with Horford and Aron Baynes being their tallest players. Interior defense is suspect without a good rim protector down low. Boston is also a young team overall.
Odds to Win the Division: +17500
Season Win Total: 27.5
Why to Bet On The Nets: The additions of D’Angelo Russell and Allen Crabbe make the backcourt passable in the NBA. This team tried hard last year at times, despite a talent difference with most of their opponents. Kenny Atkinson will get the best out of his squad. There are some other options in Jeremy Lin, Timofey Mozgov and DeMarre Carroll.
Why Not to Bet On The Nets: There are no go-to scoring option on this team and no one to stop long runs by their opponents. The squad is pretty awful defensively, yet they aren’t capable of winning a lot of high scoring affairs. The frontcourt is bad and doesn’t have a ton of size either. The lack of high draft picks the past few seasons is going to hurt this roster’s future. They’ll have to hope they get some help from their free agent acquisitions.
Season Win Total Pick: Under 27.5
[B]New York Knicks (2016-17: 31-51 SU; 42-40 ATS)[/B]
Odds to Win the Division: +8500
Season Win Total: 30
Why to Bet On The Knicks: Carmelo Anthony is gone and that means more sharing of the ball on offense. It also means that Kristaps Porzingis is the go-to guy and he should be able to handle it. With the Zinger and Enes Kanter up front, you’ve got size and scoring from the forward and center positions. For the money they paid Tim Hardaway Jr, the former Michigan star is going to be a big part of the offense.
Why Not to Bet On The Knicks: Carmelo Anthony averaged 22.4 points per game. Frank Ntilikina has got a solid future in this league, but being a point guard for this team is asking a lot. At least Derrick Rose last year was able to run the offense when he was healthy. There is just not a lot of star power in New York and few consistent scorers. Defense will be an issue as well.
Odds to Win the Division: +1000
Season Win Total: 39.5
Why to Bet On The Sixers: Joel Embiid is a megastar in the making and he’s supposedly healthy entering this season. The center has a long range shot and is the juice and electricity for this roster. Ben Simmons provides excitement at the guard position and has become tough to stop when driving the ball to the rim. Robert Covington is an underrated defender, while JJ Redick is the long-range shooter that this team has desperately needed.
Why Not to Bet On The Sixers: It’s not going to be easy integrating all these new pieces and there will be growing pains with such a young roster. Markelle Fultz looked lost at times during the preseason and may not be able to help right away. Embiid will probably sit out back-to-back games and that makes the team weaker. We’ll also find out if Brett Brown is a good coach. So far, he’s put up bad numbers with bad rosters. He now has a group that has playoff potential. Can he get them there?
Odds to Win the Division: +500
Season Win Total: 48.5
Why to Bet On The Raptors: Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan are one of the best duos in the league as they averaged nearly 50 points per game last season. Serge Ibaka is a perfect complement as he provides long range shooting. Jonas Valanciunas has solid size inside and can only get better. CJ Miles is underrated and put up 10.7 ppg last year.
Why Not to Bet On The Raptors: Beyond the starting lineup, there’s not much depth. They probably needed to split up Lowry or DeRozan as this roster just doesn’t have enough in the Eastern Conference to get past Cleveland or Boston now. Toronto needs to share the ball more and get more players tallying assists. It has become routine for Toronto to make the playoffs, but then bow out against a better opponent.
[SIZE=4][COLOR=”#A52A2A”][B]NBA Northwest betting preview and odds: Thunder the faves among all the new faces[/B][/COLOR][/SIZE]
The Northwest Division received a kind of extreme makeover this NBA offseason. Paul George and Carmelo Anthony join MVP Russell Westbrook in Oklahoma City, Jimmy Butler reunites with Tom Thibodeau in Minnesota and Paul Milsap signed with an up and coming Denver squad. Steve Merril breaks down all these changes and gives his season win total pick for each team.
[B]Denver Nuggets (2016-17: 40-42 SU, 46-36 ATS)[/B]
Odds to Win the Division: +550
Season Win Total: 45.5
Why to Bet On The Nuggets: Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray are two good pieces to build around. Jokic had several triple-doubles last year, leading Denver with 9.8 rebounds per game and 4.9 assists. Murray may have put up just under 10 points per contest, but he played the role of point guard well. The addition of Paul Millsap solidifies the front court with Danilo Gallinari gone.
Why Not to Bet On The Nuggets: In this division you really need a true superstar to survive and Denver lacks one. The Nuggets ranked 27th in scoring defense and 29th in field-goal percentage defense last season. Michael Malone has a losing record as head coach and might not be good enough to take this team to the next level.
Season Win Total Pick: Under 45.5
[B]Minnesota Timberwolves (2016-17: 31-51 SU, 37-44-1 ATS)[/B]
Odds to Win the Division: +250
Season Win Total: 48.5
Why to Bet On The Timberwolves: It was a great offseason for Minnesota as the team added Jimmy Butler to an already great duo of Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Butler brings a scoring mentality as well as someone who is willing to share the basketball. Towns averaged 25.1 points per game and 12.3 rebounds per contest last season, while Wiggins chipped in 23.6 ppg. Jamal Crawford will be a solid scorer off the bench even at the age of 37.
Why Not to Bet On The Timberwolves: It’s not that easy to just add all these new pieces and have them gel right away. Going from Ricky Rubio to Jeff Teague at point guard isn’t that much of an upgrade. Tom Thibodeau supposedly is a defensive coach, but it didn’t show last season. The lack of a true perimeter shooter will hurt when opponents decide to collapse down low in the paint against Minnesota’s athleticism.
Season Win Total Pick: Under 48.5
[B]Oklahoma City Thunder (2016-17: 47-35 SU, 45-36-1 ATS)[/B]
Odds to Win the Division: -140
Season Win Total: 53
Why to Bet On The Thunder: Not too many teams can roll out a trio of scorers like Oklahoma City can. The late addition of Carmelo Anthony is a big help alongside Russell Westbrook and Paul George who is potentially playing for a big contract in free agency. With these stars you need solid role players and Andre Roberson and Steven Adams are two of those. Roberson is a defensive specialist, while Adams is a banger inside. The squad also has one of the strongest home courts in the league.
Why Not to Bet On The Thunder: Head coach Billy Donovan must find a way to manage all these egos in one locker room and keep everything together. Carmelo Anthony has a history of dominating the ball and that won’t fly with Westbrook and George. The team’s depth isn’t great either and Roberson won’t be able to play late in games if he continues to struggle at the free throw line. If this team starts slow, tensions might mount.
Season Win Total Pick: Over 53
[B]Portland Trail Blazers (2016-17: 41-41 SU, 40-42 ATS)[/B]
Odds to Win the Division: +1500
Season Win Total: 42.5
Why to Bet On The Blazers: Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are an All-Star duo who can beat you driving the line and outside the arc. Jusuf Nurkic was a nice pickup after the deadline last year. He’ll have help inside with rookie Gonzaga center Zach Collins. Terry Stotts is a good head coach and someone you can trust at the end of a ballgame.
Why Not to Bet On The Blazers: The roster needs depth and the team did very little this offseason. Outside of McCollum and Lillard there are very few players to trust when it comes to scoring. Evan Turner averaged just nine points per game in 2016-17 and is inconsistent. While the other teams in this division are improving, this team is standing still. They probably should have kept their three first-round draft picks, instead of trading two of them away.
Season Win Total Pick: Under 42.5
[B]Utah Jazz (2016-17: 51-31 SU, 36-42-4 ATS)[/B]
Odds to Win the Division: +2200
Season Win Total: 40.5
Why to Bet On The Jazz: Defense will be this team’s calling card now that a lot of their upper-level scoring is gone. Rudy Gobert continues to improve and he now has a better point guard in Ricky Rubio who is an upgrade over George Hill. There is also intriguing talent in Dante Exum, Rodney Hood and Donovan Mitchell. At first it seemed like an odd hire, but Quin Snyder is working well as the head coach.
Why Not to Bet On The Jazz: You do not lose the likes of Gordon Hayward and expect to have the same success. If a star player can leave the franchise, you have to wonder if others will consider doing so as well once their contracts are up. Someone will need to step up and take the big shots in close games. The Jazz do not have many snipers on the perimeter which means Utah will have to rely on their defense to win low-scoring contests.
[B][I]NBA notebook: Heat’s McGruder out 3-6 months
October 12, 2017[/I][/B]
Miami Heat swingman Rodney McGruder is expected to miss three to six months due to a stress fracture in his lower left leg, according to multiple reports.
McGruder is slated to undergo surgery next week.
It wasn’t clear when the 26-year-old McGruder suffered the injury. He played 25 minutes in Wednesday’s preseason victory over the Washington Wizards.
McGruder averaged 6.4 points in 78 games, including 65 starts, last season in his first NBA campaign. McGruder went undrafted out of Kansas State in 2013.
[B]–Indiana Pacers[/B] forward Glenn Robinson III will undergo surgery on his injured left ankle and is expected to be sidelined until mid-December, ESPN reported.
Robinson sustained the injury while driving to the basket during a scrimmage in practice on Sept. 29.
The 6-foot-6, 222-pound Robinson, the son former NBA star Glenn Robinson, averaged a career-high 6.1 points and 3.6 rebounds in 69 games, including 27 starts, last season. The 2017 NBA slam dunk contest champion shot 39.2 percent on 3-pointers.
With Paul George traded to Oklahoma City, Robinson is expected to play a more prominent role this season.
[B]–The Brooklyn Nets[/B] exercised the 2018-19 contract options for D’Angelo Russell, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert.
Russell, the No. 2 overall pick of the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2015 NBA Draft, was acquired by the Nets in June. He averaged 15.6 points, 3.5 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.4 steals last season.
Hollis-Jefferson, acquired in a draft-night trade after he was selected No. 23 overall by Portland in 2015, appeared in a team-high 78 games last season and averaged 8.7 points and 5.8 rebounds.
LeVert was acquired from Indiana after the Pacers selected him with the 20th overall selection in 2016. He started 26 of 57 games last season, averaging 8.2 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.9 assists.
[B]–The Denver Nuggets[/B] have officially signed guard Gary Harris to a contract extension, the team announced.
As reported earlier, Harris agreed to the four-year, $84 million extension on Saturday.
Harris, 23, averaged 14.9 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists and made 50.2 percent of his field goals last season.
[B]–The Memphis Grizzlies[/B] announced plans to retire the number of Tony Allen in the future.
Allen departed the team this summer and signed a one-year deal with the New Orleans Pelicans for the veteran’s minimum of $2.3 million.
Allen averaged 8.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game during his seven seasons with the Grizzlies. He also earned first- or second-team All-Defensive honors in six of those campaigns.
[B][I]Reports: Hawks acquire Jefferson, Felder from Cavs
October 13, 2017[/I][/B]
The Cleveland Cavaliers traded veteran forward Richard Jefferson and guard Kay Felder to the Atlanta Hawks on Friday to get down to the maximum 15-player roster limit, according to multiple reports.
Cleveland also gave up second-round picks in 2019 and 2020 and cash in the deal and received the draft rights to Greece’s Dimitrios Agravanis (59th overall selection in 2015) and the Ukraine’s Sergii Gladyr (49th pick in 2009).
The Hawks reportedly will waive both Jefferson and Felder.
The 37-year-old Jefferson averaged 5.7 points and 2.6 rebounds in 79 games last season. Felder, who was a rookie, averaged 4.0 and 1.4 assists in 42 games in 2016-17.
[B][I]Shumpert replaces James in Cavs’ starting lineup
October 13, 2017[/I][/B]
ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Iman Shumpert replaced LeBron James in the Cleveland Cavaliers’ starting lineup instead of J.R. Smith.
Smith said prior to Friday night’s final preseason game against Orlando that he prefers playing with the second unit, which is where he will play during the regular season. Earlier this week, Smith was told by coach Tyronn Lue that he will be coming off the bench this season and recent signee Dwyane Wade will start in his place.
James has not played in four of the Cavs’ five preseason games due to ankle injury. It’s uncertain whether or not James will be able to go Tuesday night in the season opener against Kyrie Irving and Boston.
[B][I]Spurs’ Leonard won’t be ready for opener
October 13, 2017[/I][/B]
HOUSTON (AP) Kawhi Leonard still isn’t ready to play.
San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said the All-Star forward needs more time to get his injured thigh muscle right, meaning he won’t be out there when the Spurs open their regular season on Wednesday against Minnesota.
”He’s still rehabbing and when he’s ready, he’ll be ready,” Popovich told reporters in Houston before San Antonio’s preseason finale.
Leonard didn’t play at all in camp or preseason, after a year where he averaged 25.5 points – raising his scoring average for the fifth consecutive season – and finished behind only Russell Westbrook and James Harden in the MVP race.
The Spurs aren’t alone when it comes to injury woes heading into the season.
Many are minor, like Cleveland’s LeBron James nursing a sprained ankle and Golden State’s Andre Iguodala dealing with a balky back – issues that might keep them out of their respective opening nights. Kevin Durant (virus) and Draymond Green (back) also missed Golden State’s preseason finale on Friday, though neither situation is thought to be serious. Nor is the Rockets’ Chris Paul sitting out Friday with a sore knee, after missing a game earlier this week with a sore shoulder.
Some other injuries from training camp and preseason action are far more significant, like the ones endured by Charlotte’s Nic Batum (elbow ligament tear), Miami’s Rodney McGruder (stress fracture in left leg), Indiana’s Glenn Robinson III (high ankle sprain followed by surgery to repair ligaments Friday), Washington’s Markieff Morris (sports hernia), New Orleans’ Rajon Rondo (sports hernia) and Utah’s Dante Exum (shoulder).
They are looking at weeks – or in many cases, months – before they’ll play again.
So the preseason is over. Some teams will be feeling the effects of it for a while longer.
[B][I]Pacers F Robinson to miss 3-4 months
October 13, 2017[/I][/B]
Indiana Pacers forward Glenn Robinson III underwent successful ankle surgery Friday and is expected to return in three to four months.
Robinson underwent the procedure to repair medial and lateral ligaments in his left ankle.
The 23-year-old was injured driving to the basket during a scrimmage in practice on Sept. 29.
The 6-foot-6, 222-pound Robinson, the son of former NBA star Glenn Robinson, averaged a career-high 6.1 points and 3.6 rebounds in 69 games (27 starts) last season. The 2017 NBA slam dunk contest champion shot 39.2 percent on 3-pointers.
Robinson was a second-round draft pick of the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2014 after leaving Michigan following his sophomore season. In 149 regular-season games for the Timberwolves, Philadelphia 76ers and Pacers, Robinson has averaged 4.4 points on 44.8 percent shooting.
[B][I]Blazers’ McCollum suspended for season opener
October 14, 2017[/I][/B]
Portland Trail Blazers star guard CJ McCollum has been suspended for the regular-season opener after leaving the bench during an altercation in Wednesday’s preseason game, the league announced Saturday.
McCollum, 26, was given a one-game ban for the incident that occurred with 9:33 remaining in the fourth quarter of Portland’s 113-104 preseason win against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
McCollum left the bench area when Portland’s Caleb Swanigan and Phoenix’s Alex Len got into a shoving match. Both Swanigan and Len were ejected.
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound McCollum averaged a career-best 23.0 points last season, his fourth with the Blazers since being a first-round pick (10th overall) in 2013 out of Lehigh.
The Trail Blazers open their regular season next Wednesday night at Phoenix.
[B][I]Celtics F Morris to miss opener vs. Cavs
October 15, 2017[/I][/B]
Boston Celtics forward Marcus Morris will miss Tuesday’s season opener against the Cleveland Cavaliers due to right knee soreness, Boston coach Brad Stevens said on Sunday.
Morris will miss at least the first couple weeks of the regular season, according to Stevens. He played just 11 minutes in the preseason due to the knee woes and because he was away on trial in Phoenix for aggravated assault. He was acquitted.
“With him getting here a little bit late, we feel like he needs a little more of a preseason,” Stevens said. “He will most likely be out here for the coming week-plus and then we will re-evaluate after that. They’ve done all the testing and, structurally, the knee is in good shape.
“But I think it is a quick turnaround to get here last week and play in a regular-season game. It’s going to be a little bit of time probably before he hits the court again.”
The loss of Morris will require some lineup shuffling as the 28-year-old was the player in line to guard Cleveland star LeBron James. First-round pick Jayson Tatum may end up with the starting assignment in his first NBA game.
Morris was acquired in the offseason from the Detroit Pistons, a less-publicized acquisition than signing free agent forward Gordon Hayward (formerly of the Utah Jazz) and landing point guard Kyrie Irving from Cleveland.
Morris averaged 14 points and 4.6 rebounds in 79 games last season.
The deal for Irving included star guard Isaiah Thomas being shipped to the Cavaliers and has helped make the opener a highly anticipated contest even as Irving attempted to downplay his return to Cleveland during Sunday’s media availability.
“The excitement and the energy is there but I think everything extra has been created by outside influence,” said Irving, who helped the Cavaliers down the Celtics in last season’s Eastern Conference finals. “So that’s neither here nor there. I don’t know what that reality is. I don’t necessarily concern myself with that because, if I do, I’d really be doing myself a disservice and my teammates a disservice of trying to figure out whether or not I want to give some distractions or specific people energy in terms of what they’re saying or what they think about what’s going on.
“Everyone’s entitled to an opinion. I respect it. But it’s my job to go out there and be the best I can be for my teammates and ultimately try to win every single game and put myself and my teammates in a great position to win. It’s going to happen regardless. That’s just the nature of the business. I understand that. But that reality, I leave that for other people.”
[B][I]Welcome, Rook: Ball, Tatum, Fultz and more making NBA debuts
October 16, 2017[/I][/B]
MIAMI (AP) If there was one takeaway from Lonzo Ball’s first training camp and preseason, it was this: He doesn’t sound like his dad.
There’s no humility in Ball’s game. The confidence of the Los Angeles Lakers’ rookie point guard is through the roof when he’s on the floor and with a ball in his hand. But when he speaks, when microphones are thrust near his face and the lights of cameras shine in his eyes and reporters pepper him with questions, there’s no bluster or bravado emanating.
Yes, even the most ballyhooed player in this highly regarded NBA rookie class knows that a learning process awaits over the next few months.
”The grind of the season, 82 games, I’ve never played that before,” Ball said. ”It is my first year, so I don’t know what really to expect. But I’m going in there with an open mind, ready to learn, ready to get better and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”
His dad, LaVar Ball, has made plenty of headlines with his sometimes over-the-top thoughts, plus has faced tons of criticism for things like slapping a $495 price tag on the infamous Big Baller Brand shoe that was released months before his son made his NBA debut. But Lonzo Ball speaks with humility, a calmness that helped convince the Lakers that he indeed was the right pick to be the rebuilding team’s point guard of the present and future.
”I’d like to just play,” Lonzo Ball said.
No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz will be part of Philadelphia’s young core that the 76ers hope get them back in the Eastern Conference playoff mix, No. 3 pick Jayson Tatum should be a big part of a Boston team that believes it can compete for a title, and No. 9 pick Dennis Smith Jr. – an absolute freak of an athlete, even by NBA standards – is already being mentioned as a star of the future in Dallas and a legitimate rookie of the year candidate this season.
They won’t be asked to be great right away. But this rookie class might have as much potential as any in years. Here’s some of what to know from the rookie perspective going into the season:
Don’t expect to see many freshmen on the floor in Los Angeles for the All-Star Game in February.
Here’s the last three rookies to make an All-Star team – Blake Griffin in 2011 (which was his second year in the NBA), Yao Ming in 2002 (after he was a pro in China before coming to the NBA) and Tim Duncan in 1998.
The odds are stacked even higher against the guards. The last rookie guard to make the game was Michael Jordan in 1985, the last rookie point guard was Isiah Thomas in 1982.
[B]SCORING COMES LATER[/B]
Since 2000, only seven rookies have averaged 20 points per game. They were Blake Griffin (22.5), Carmelo Anthony (21.0), LeBron James (20.9), Kevin Durant (20.3), Joel Embiid (20.2 last year, after he missed his first two seasons), Elton Brand (20.1) and Tyreke Evans (20.1).
The learning curve can be steep, when considering that stars of now like Isaiah Thomas, Kevin Love, Marc Gasol and Al Horford all averaged less than 12 points as rookies. James Harden averaged 9.9, Mike Conley 9.4, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were just under 8 points per game, Giannis Antetokounmpo was at 6.8, Kyle Lowry and Gordon Hayward didn’t even average 6 points and CJ McCollum barely averaged 5.
[B]THEN AGAIN …[/B]
Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon showed last year that scoring isn’t exactly a prerequisite for rookie awards.
He averaged 10.2 points per game last season, the lowest for any NBA rookie of the year in the 68-year history of the award. Brogdon started only 28 games, by far the lowest for a ROY winner since the NBA started charting that statistic. Of Brogdon’s four most recent predecessors as top rookie, three – Damian Lillard, Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns – started all 82 games.
Having 30somethings as NBA rookies isn’t unheard of, although the vast majority of those examples came in the league’s infancy during the 1940s.
Milos Teodosic is about to join that club.
The 30-year-old Serbian is a rookie for the Los Angeles Clippers this season, and yes, he’s eligible for rookie of the year honors. He’s starred in pro leagues in Russia and Greece, and Clippers coach Doc Rivers – not a bad passer in his day – says Teodosic is one of the best distributors of the basketball that he’s ever seen.
Other 30-and-uppers in recent years that have joined the NBA after foreign careers and made a quick impact include Pablo Prigioni and Marcelo Huertas. The most notable player to pull off such a move might be Basketball Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis, who entered the NBA a decade after first being drafted and was a 31-year-old All-Rookie Team member for Portland in 1995-96.
No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz of Philadelphia said he is setting high personal goals.
Rookie of the year is on the list.
He doesn’t turn 20 until May, but could be the third teenager to win the award – potentially joining LeBron James and Kevin Durant. Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins were 19 in their ROY seasons, but turned 20 before those campaigns ended.
[B][I]LeBron vs. Kyrie the latest NBA rivalry
October 16, 2017[/I][/B]
MIAMI (AP) LeBron James loves rivalries. Ohio State-Michigan. North Carolina-Duke. Cowboys-Redskins. Those are some of the favorite matchups he’s cited over the years, ones that have been honed by the flowing of bad blood over generations.
Kyrie Irving left Cleveland only two months ago.
By James’ own definition, he and Irving wouldn’t be rivals yet. The rest of the NBA may argue otherwise, and when Boston and Cleveland meet in the season’s opening game Tuesday night many may call it a rivalry game – not because the teams played in the Eastern Conference finals last spring but because James is still with the Cavs and Irving is now leading the Celtics.
Gone are the days of venomous team rivalries: Celtics-Lakers, Bulls-Pistons or Heat-Knicks. Sure, there are the Warriors-Cavs, maybe even Thunder-Warriors. Sort of. In this NBA, the animus is almost always about individuals.
”I don’t know if `rival’ is the right word,” Cleveland forward Kevin Love said when asked if Celtics-Cavaliers is a rivalry. ”But they’re right up there, if not the main competitor, with we feel like us in the East.”
Ask around the NBA, and it seems like everyone defines rivalry differently. Miami center Hassan Whiteside thinks they’re fueled by Twitter – a point he proved when he and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid started a big-man beef on social media over the weekend. Cavs guard Dwyane Wade has said teams need playoff histories before becoming rivals. Warriors star Stephen Curry says seeing old rivalries on television actually inspire him.
But the two matchups that seem to most move the needle in NBA rivalry talk now are breakups of superstar duos. Not long ago, it was Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant. Last year, it was Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.
This year, Irving and James join that club.
And as luck would have it, the NBA schedule – which was done before Irving got traded to Boston – has them paired in Game 1 of the season.
”I’m just happy to just start NBA basketball back again,” said Irving, who, likely unsuccessfully, tried last week to downplay rivalry talk by suggesting Tuesday was just going to be another game. ”It was a long summer, understanding that coming of The Finals’ loss and what we went through. And, of course, the trade happening. But now it’s just time to move on to some more NBA basketball, and a new uniform, and just be excited about that.”
Cavs guard J.R. Smith may have added fuel to the rivalry – by suggesting there isn’t a rivalry.
”There’s different people in different jerseys, but I mean, I don’t really pose them as a big threat to us,” Smith said.
Let the entertaining begin.
Charlotte coach Steve Clifford said rivalries have always appealed to him. The Hornets don’t play Tuesday – it’s only Cavs-Celtics and Houston-Golden State on the schedule – so odds are, he’ll be drawn in by watching some of the drama in Cleveland.
”My first year in the NBA I was an advance scout for the Knicks, that was Pat Riley’s Heat and Jeff Van Gundy’s Knicks and I think that all four of those regular-season games were on either ABC or TNT,” Clifford said. ”I remember being a college coach and if you saw they were going to play, you watched. That can’t be anything but good for the league.”
Those Heat-Knicks battles were settled on the floor.
Often now, the toughest actions can be found on Twitter.
Former player Kenyon Martin took an electronic swing at Jeremy Lin earlier this month about the Nets guard sporting braids; Lin went back at Martin about his use of Chinese tattoos. Whiteside and Embiid typed back and forth over the weekend after their preseason matchup, and Embiid even got a veiled jab at Durant’s usage of a secret Twitter account in there. CJ McCollum and Chandler Parsons went at it in January in a brief, hilarious exchange.
”Twitter can make things bigger than what they are,” Whiteside said. ”A lot of things get blown out of proportion. I try to compete every night, the same way, do what’s best for my team. And every night, guys come out to win. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s really about.”
Irving would agree. He thinks Tuesday should be about the game, more than any rivalry, real or imagined.
[B][I]Veteran F Jefferson reportedly will sign with Nuggets
October 16, 2017
The Denver Nuggets will sign forward Richard Jefferson and release veteran guard Jameer Nelson.
ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported late Monday that Jefferson and the Nuggets had agreed on a one-year, $2.3 million contract. The 37-year-old Jefferson, who spent the past two seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers, will join a young nucleus of rising stars that include center Nikola Jokic and guard Gary Harris in Mile High City.
In a text message to the website The Vertical, Jefferson explained why he decided to join the Nuggets.
“I picked Denver because I believe in what they are doing and building and believe I can add and contribute on and off the court to their nucleus in a positive way,” Jefferson said.
Jefferson, who averaged 5.7 points per game in about 20 minutes per game last season, was traded over the weekend to Atlanta, where he was promptly waived.
The Nuggets also added All-Star veteran swingman Paul Millsap in the offseason. Jefferson will compete for playing time with Millsap, Kenneth Faried and Wilson Chandler
[B][I]2017-18 Win Total Best Bets
October 16, 2017[/I][/B]
The 2017-18 NBA season is here and it inevitably looks to be another Finals matchup between the Warriors and Cavaliers. However, plenty of big names moved around the league to help bolster the likes of Houston, Oklahoma City, and Boston, which could be contenders that could dethrone Golden State and Cleveland.
We polled our experts for the upcoming season to ask which squads are the best season win total plays in 2017-18.
Andy Iskoe believes the Timberwolves can finally get over the hump and cash their win total of 46 ½, “The Wolves have been assembling a quality roster over the past few seasons that is designed to be competitive for 3 to 5 seasons or more depending on health and personnel turnover. Coached by the highly respected Tom Thibodeau, who had success in Chicago before parting ways, ostensibly for ‘philosophical differences’, Minnesota is poised to have those moves pay off this season by making advances in the highly competitive Western Conference that is starting to see a not-so-gradual shift in power once you get by Golden State and San Antonio.”
“It may be asking a lot for any team to improve by as many games as the oddsmakers are asking of the T-Wolves, who won just 31 games last season. But fates can turn quickly in the NBA as the Wolves fell from 40 wins four seasons ago to just 16 the following season, bouncing back to win 29 wins and then 31 last season. There are multiple All Star caliber players on this roster so an improvement of 16 games, while asking a lot, is achievable provided lengthy injuries are avoided (which is always the risk when going OVER season-long Totals).”
Another team expected to cash the OVER in the West is Utah, as Joe Nelson is high on this team in spite of a key offseason loss, “The Jazz jumped from 40-42 in 2015-16 to 51-31 in 2016-17, finishing fourth in the Western Conference and advancing to the Conference semifinals. Losing Gordon Hayward was a big blow, but Rudy Gobert is the centerpiece of a squad that allowed the fewest points in the NBA last season, at just 96.8 points per game. Ricky Rubio takes over at point guard and #13 pick Donovan Mitchell is capable of being an impact rookie in the backcourt as well.”
“Rodney Hood figures to pick up Hayward’s lead scoring role, averaging 12.7 points per game last season with improved outside shooting numbers now entering his fourth season with Utah. Utah features one of the tougher home courts in the league going 29-12 last season in Salt Lake City and the Jazz have a chance to pick up some big wins early in the season with October games with some of those teams in major transitions including facing Minnesota, Oklahoma City, and the L.A. Clippers in three of the first four games.”
On the flip side, Oklahoma City picked up several stars in Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, but Don Anthony doesn’t believe lightning will strike for the Thunder, “Everyone is going to want to run and bet this over thinking they have an All-NBA team now with Westbrook, Anthony, and George. First off, it’s going to take a while for this team to gel and secondly, these are three players that need to be the go-to guy and who want the ball. This reminds me a lot of the Iverson and Anthony experiment in Denver. I can see this falling apart quickly if they go on a losing skid. Carmelo will pout and team chemistry will all but disappear. I believe the George wants to be in L.A. and he will just be playing this year out so even more reason to give up if things start going south. Thirty losses gets us the win here and having to play in the ultra-tough Western Conference, this is the best bet of the season.”
In the Eastern Conference, the Pistons seem to be ready to make a move, according to Marc Lawrence.
“Year 4 of the Stan Van Gundy era finds the Pistons looking to improve on Detroit’s regular season win totals of 32, 44, and 37 in Van Gundy’s first three seasons, respectively. The addition of former Celtics G Avery Bradley, along with highly anticipated improvement from promising second-year F Stanley Johnson, complimenting PG Reggie Jackson and C Andre Drummond finds the Pistons in a favorable position to get possibly get closer to the 44 win total rather than the first-year 32 victory season under Gundy. Value here from last year’s 45.5 posted win total.”
One Eastern team that could take a step backwards resides north of the border as Stephen Nover explains, “A number of teams in the Eastern Conference have gotten better. The Raptors have gotten worse. Deep inside the Toronto players realize they can’t win the conference anymore let alone the division. They aren’t a clutch team. That could affect their play.”
“The Raptors lost much of their depth and defense with DeMarre Carroll, Patrick Patterson, Cory Joseph and P.J. Tucker leaving. Serge Ibaka is on the downside of his career and Kyle Lowry is injury-prone and may be fat and happy after signing a three-year, $100 million dollar contract. Teams that rely on their backcourt to do the heavy lifting just don’t go far.”
Below are the season win totals courtesy of Las Vegas Westgate SuperBook:
Atlanta Hawks 27.5
Boston Celtics 53.5
Brooklyn Nets 26.5
Charlotte Hornets 42.5
Chicago Bulls 22.5
Cleveland Cavaliers 54.5
Dallas Mavericks 35.5
Denver Nuggets 43.5
Detroit Pistons 38.5
Golden State Warriors 67.5
Houston Rockets 54.5
Indiana Pacers 30.5
Los Angeles Clippers 42.5
Los Angeles Lakers 32.5
Memphis Grizzlies 38.5
Miami Heat 42.5
Milwaukee Bucks 46.5
Minnesota Timberwolves 46.5
New Orleans Pelicans 40.5
New York Knicks 30.5
Oklahoma City Thunder 52.5
Orlando Magic 30.5
Philadelphia 76ers 40.5
Phoenix Suns 28.5
Portland Trail Blazers 40.5
Sacramento Kings 29
San Antonio Spurs 53.5
Toronto Raptors 47.5
Utah Jazz 38.5
Washington Wizards 48.5
Listed below are the Win Total selections from our handicappers. Be sure to check out their daily pro basketball winners all season long on VegasInsider.com!
[B][I]NBA WIN TOTAL PREDICTIONS
Alex Smart Chicago Bulls New York Knicks
Andy Iskoe Indiana Pacers Philadelphia 76ers
Antony Dinero Chicago Bulls New York Knicks
ASA………… Indiana Pacers Philadelphia 76ers
Ben Burns.. Chicago Bulls New York Knicks
Bill Marzano Indiana Pacers Philadelphia 76ers
Bruce Marshall Chicago Bulls New York Knicks
Don Anthony Indiana Pacers Philadelphia 76ers
Gary Bar….t Chicago Bulls New York Knicks
Jimmy Boyd Indiana Pacers Philadelphia 76ers
Joe Nelson………Chicago Bulls New York Knicks
John Fisher Indiana Pacers Philadelphia 76ers
Kevin Rogers Chicago Bulls New York Knicks
Kyle Hunter Indiana Pacers Philadelphia 76ers
Marc Lawrence Chicago Bulls New York Knicks
Mark Franco Indiana Pacers Philadelphia 76ers
Matt Fargo. Chicago Bulls New York Knicks
NeiltheGreek Indiana Pacers Philadelphia 76ers
Paul Bovi… Chicago Bulls New York Knicks
Scott Rickenbach.Indiana Pacers Philadelphia 76ers
[B][I]2017-18 Season Props
October 16, 2017[/I][/B]
“Big Three” Scoring Props for NBA[/B]
Ever since the Boston Celtics put Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett on the floor together over a decade ago, the theory in the NBA has been that it takes three superstars to win a championship.
Most teams nowadays that are able to pull off their edition of the “Big Three” do so by combining some homegrown talent with one massive free agent signing or trade acquisition.
BookMaker.eu has posted NBA season-long props for three of the biggest “Big Threes” in the 2017-18 NBA season.
Golden State Warriors – Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson
The “Big Three” that everyone is chasing in the NBA has an over/under of 70.5 points per game between them this season. The Warriors’ trio has the problem of having a few more mouths to feed than the average team. Draymond Green is going to get his, and there are going to be games where men like Andre Iguodala or Shaun Livingston eat some points up too.
Still, Durant moving to Golden State clearly adjusted the balance of power even heavier towards the Bay Area last year, and the fact that both he and Curry averaged over 28 points per game in the postseason probably tells you all you need to know.
All three of Curry, Durant and Thompson averaged at least 22 points per game last season. They combined to put up 72.7 points per game in their first year together, and it’s hard to envision them not being at least that good this year.
Oklahoma City Thunder – Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony
We all know what a beast Westbrook was last season when he had the Thunder all by himself. He averaged 31.6 points, 10.7 boards and 10.4 assists per game. That said, the team only won 47 games, and Westbrook was never satisfied knowing that OKC was nowhere near contending for a championship.
In the offseason, the Thunder went out and acquired both Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. Now, Oklahoma City has its second incarnation of its “Big Three.”
The last time the Thunder had a “Big Three” was in 2012-12 when they had Durant, Westbrook and James Harden together. Those three combined to average 68.4 points per game in their last year as a trifecta. This current trio of stars is much more advanced; remember that Durant and Westbrook were just 23 at the time while Harden was 22.
The Westbrook/PG13/Melo triumvirate is featuring a combined over/under of 74.5 points per game, the highest of any on the BookMaker.eu prop board.
Minnesota Timberwolves – Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins
The T-Wolves probably have the least likely combination of three superstars on the court at the same time. Towns was an original pick, Wiggins was a product of LeBron James going back to Cleveland and deciding that he’d rather play with Kevin Love, and Butler is simply an acquisition that suggests the team is really going to go for it in the West.
Of all of the “Big Threes,” this is probably the one that is going to be the toughest to try and handicap. The Timberwolves are going to be about their defense first and foremost with Tom Thibodeau coaching them up, and that will likely bring Butler’s scoring average down significantly from his career-high 23.9 points per game average from last year.
Towns and Wiggins combined to average 48.7 points per game last season, and you’d like to think that they can keep up with that average, even with Butler in town.
But Taj Gibson is also a good scorer from a swing forward position, and Jeff Teague is a lot more of a scoring point guard than Ricky Rubio was with this team last year.
The talent is there for the craziest “Big Three” to go well past its combined points per game total of 68.5, but there surely is a lot going against this unit as well.
[B]NBA Props – per BookMaker.eu
Will LeBron James and Kyrie Irving Make Contact on Court Before Game on October 17?
Will the NBA Fine Any Team For Resting Healthy Players During National TV Games in 2017-18?
Will Russell Westbrook Average a Triple-Double for the 2017-18 Regular Season?
Will Giannis Antetokounmpo Finish in the NBA Top 15 for Total Points, Rebounds, Assists, Steals and Blocks?
Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony Combined PPG for 2017-18 Regular Season
Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson Combined PPG for 2017-18 Regular Season
Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins Combined PPG for 2017-18 Regular Season
DeMarcus Cousins Number of Technical Fouls for 2017-18 Regular Season
Russell Westbrook Number of Technical Fouls for 2017-18 Regular Season
Blake Griffin Number of Games Played for 2017-18 Regular Season
Isaiah Thomas Number of Games Played for 2017-18 Regular Season
[B][I]Central Division Best Bets
October 16, 2017[/I][/B]
[B]Indiana Pacers (OVER 30.5)[/B]
Indiana was just below league averages in terms of both offensive and defensive efficiency which was good enough to earn the 7th seed in the East with a 42-40 record. But gone from last years roster is Paul George, who led the team in scoring and steals per game along with the man who led them in assists, George Teague.
They added Victor Oladipo (16PPG, 2.6APG) and Domantas Sabonis in the trade with the Thunder and brought in Darren Collison (4.6 assists per game and 13.2PPG for the Kings last year) so it’s not like the cupboard is bare.
Third-year player Myles Turner will become the focal point of this team moving forward and he’s not a bad option to build your team around. Turner was in elite company as a 20 year old last year to average more than 14PPG, 7RPG and 2BPG. Only Anthony Davis, Chris Webber, Kevin Garnett and Shaq have done it before in the NBA.
Thaddeus Young is also a serviceable power forward who averaged 11PPG and 6.1RPG. We feel the oddsmakers have over-adjusted this win total and feel the sum parts can replace George and Teague’s production.
[B]Our favorite Over bet is the Pacers to win more than 31 games.[/B]
[B]Chicago Bulls (No Play 22.5)[/B]
This isn’t the same Bulls roster that won 41 games last season as key pieces Jimmy Butler and Dwyane Wade have bolted for greener pastures. Chicago has a tentative starting lineup of: Kris Dunn, Justin Holiday, Zach LaVine, Robin Lopez and Nikola Mirotic. Those five players COMBINED to average: 25 minutes per game, 10.2 points per game, 4 rebounds per game and 1.7 assists per game!
Only Mirotic and Holiday were in the top half of the NBA in real plus/minus stats which makes this lineup one of the worst in the league. In fact, our power ratings have the Bulls as one of the bottom four teams in the NBA this season. It’s going to be a long year in the Windy City and we’ll lean towards UNDER 22.5 wins.
[B]Cleveland Cavaliers (OVER 54.5) [/B]
The new look Cavaliers look to improve upon their 51 regular season win total from last year with a revamped roster that on paper looks outstanding. The key here is ‘on paper’ as we’re not sure what kind of chemistry this ego driven unit will have.
The Cavs shipped Kyrie Irving to Boston for essentially Jae Crowder and Isaiah Thomas and brought in vets Jeff Green, Dwyane Wade and Derrick Rose. Already there are issues arising with volatile JR Smith having to move to the bench in favor of D-Wade (LeBron’s best buddy). But the Cavs are now extremely deep and could have a second unit better than 8 other starting units in the East. That translates to rest for LeBron and Wade without sacrificing regular season wins.
Cleveland couldn’t win it all last season because their defense was awful, ranking 21st in defensive efficiency and we’re not sure their current roster will be better in that regard? Two other Central Division teams, the Bulls and Pacers, are rebuilding as both lost their best players (Jimmy Butler, D-Wade and Paul George), so the Division has gotten weaker overall.
The Cavs won over 72% of their games against the East last year (17-18 SU versus the West) and because of their depth this season we expect them to win 55+.
[B]Milwaukee Bucks (OVER 46.5) [/B]
The Bucks are an up-and-coming team in the NBA with the 23 year old “Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo leading the way in Milwaukee. Giannis averaged 22.9PPG, 8.8RPG and 5.4APG which puts him in some exclusive company. The only other three NBA players average more than 22PPG, 8.5RPG and 5APG were Russell Westbrook, James Harden and LeBron James. The Bucks were 13th in offensive efficiency ratings at 1.091 points per possession but just 19th in defensive efficiency ratings allowing 1.093PPP and really need to rebound better (29th last season) as a team.
Milwaukee gets a boost with Jabari Parker coming back after playing in just 51 games a year ago before a knee injury cost him the rest of the season. Parker was averaging 20PPG on 49% shooting to go along 6.2 rebounds per game. Khris Middleton came back from an injury to play in 35 games last season and if this scoring guard can regain his form from the 2015-16 season where he averaged over 18PPG the Bucks could be a top 3 team in the East.
The Bucks won 42 games in the regular season a year ago which was a 9 game improvement over the previous season. Can they make that jump again? That might be a stretch but we do think they’ll win more than 47.
[B]Detroit Pistons (No Play 38.5) [/B]
The Pistons won 37 games a year ago with some interesting results when it comes to non-conference and conference games. Everyone knows the East is weaker than the West and yet the Pistons were just 5-11 SU in the Division and 21-31 SU versus the entire East overall. Shockingly, Detroit went 16-14 SU against the West?
The Pistons had a negative point differential of -1.2PPG on the season and were a bottom 8 team in the league in offensive efficiency ratings. They made up for their offensive shortcomings with a defensive efficiency rating of 1.072PPP which was 7th best in the NBA.
Detroit did bring in Avery Bradley who averaged career highs in scoring (16.3) and rebounding (6.1) last season in Boston. The core players from last year return with double-double machine Andre Dummond (averaged over 13.5 points and rebounds per game) and PG Reggie Jackson who missed 30 games a year ago due to knee tendinitis. The Pistons should win more games in the East this year but the West record is going to swing the other way too. No play either way here.