It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The NBA betting season has finally returned after Kevin Durant and the Warriors hoisted a second straight Larry O’Brien Trophy back in June.
Games tip off Tuesday and Wednesday, and the top basketball bookmakers have a ton of action out there. Here are our five favorite picks of the openers.
The line: Warriors -11.5
Ring night didn’t exactly go as planned for the Warriors last season. The Rockets surprised the Warriors on Opening Night with a one-point win despite being 8.5-point underdogs.
Houston proved to be a legitimate threat, winning 66 games taking the Warriors to seven games in the Western Conference Finals. Don’t expect that type of resistance on Tuesday from the Thunder.
Sam Presti retooled Oklahoma City in the offseason, moving on from Carmelo Anthony, re-signing Paul George and adding Dennis Schroder, Nerlens Noel and Patrick Patterson.
That may help them compete in the West, but when they travel to Oakland they’ll be without former MVP Russell Westbrook and All-NBA Defensive First Team forward Andre Roberson. The former is still battling back from offseason knee surgery, while the latter is out indefinitely after suffering a setback in his own knee surgery rehab.
That leaves George and Schroder in charge of keeping pace with a rested and hungry Warriors team. You can bet the Warriors remember what happened a year ago on Opening Night, and after the Rockets stole homecourt advantage from them, Steve Kerr’s bunch will be taking the regular season more seriously.
This one could get out of hand in a hurry. Take the Warriors -11.5 over Thunder with Karamba.
The line: Clippers -1
Just two short years ago the LA Clippers opened their season with an eight-point win over the Portland Trail Blazers. Doc Rivers played 10 guys that night, and when the Clippers take the floor on Wednesday, zero of those players will be there.
It’s been quiet, but the Clippers have undergone an immense overhaul of their roster, trading Chris Paul and Blake Griffin while letting DeAndre Jordan and J.J. Redick walk in free agency.
There’s still talent, but they appear to be closing in on beginning a youth movement led by Tobias Harris and rookies Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jerome Robinson.
On the other side, the Nuggets are about ready to begin their ascent. They have an MVP candidate in Nikola Jokic, a superb young backcourt in Gary Harris and Jamal Murray, and the supporting cast and depth that should allow them a run at a top four seed in the West.
The Nuggets were terrible on the road last season, going just 15-26 (and 17-22-2 ATS), but early in the season, a quick flight to L.A. shouldn’t affect them all that much. They should make a statement. Bet the Nuggets +1 with Karamba.
The line: Heat -2.5
The Magic are slowly putting something together with their recent draft picks. Their frontcourt looks just about set with some combination of Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic, Mo Bamba and Jonathan Isaac.
The backcourt is a different story, and it’s a little nerve-wracking that they’ll enter the season with D.J. Augustin and Jerian Grant as the point guard depth.
There was some belief that this game would be the debut of Jimmy Butler in a Heat jersey. It didn’t happen, but Miami still returns everyone relevant from last year’s 42-win team. They should get a rejuvenated Hassan Whiteside to anchor the middle, and Goran Dragic and Josh Richardson should feast in this matchup.
The line: Spurs -4
The Timberwolves are an absolute mess right now. The Jimmy Butler saga continues to add ridiculous chapters, and the latest is that he’ll play with the team until they honor his trade request. But he’s been away from the team for most of training camp and didn’t play once during the preseason.
Minnesota is talented when they’re at full-strength, and technically they will be if Butler plays. But they lost their last four preseason games by a combined 79 points. They’re in disarray.
Then again, the Spurs aren’t exactly locked and loaded as the regular season approaches. The injury bug has arrived in San Antonio, with Dejounte Murray (ACL), Derrick White (foot) and Lonnie Walker (torn meniscus) all suffering significant injuries.
The Spurs will rely heavily on the trio of DeMar DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Gay in the early portion of the season, while veteran Patty Mills sees a bump in playing time at the point.
That being said, they’re in a much better position than the disjointed Timberwolves. Bet the Spurs -4 with 888Sport.
The line: Suns -1
For the Suns, it’s about a new era. They’ve got a new coach (Igor Kokoskov), their franchise player Devin Booker has a new max contract, and they’ve got a new foundation in the middle of their lineup in top pick Deandre Ayton.
The supporting cast isn’t half-bad, either. They made a free-agency splash in signing Trevor Ariza, traded for Ryan Anderson and believe they have something special in former top-5 pick Josh Jackson.
Will all the pieces come together? It’s probably a long shot to consider them playoff contenders, but they’ll be much better.
Dallas also upgraded in the offseason. They moved up to draft international sensation Luka Doncic, they signed center DeAndre Jordan and bring back just about everyone from last year’s 24-win team.
Dallas is a more veteran team and probably more talented on paper. But there’s something about this new era of Suns basketball that has us excited, and opening at home on national television should give them a boost. Also, Booker has recovered quicker than expected from offseason hand surgery and should play.
That should tip the scale, and we’ll take the Suns -1 with 888Sport.