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Best NBA Bets
The NBA Betting Story
By Dan Favale
Philadelphia 76ers (+7.5) vs. Atlanta Hawks (-7.5)
It's tempting to pick the Philadelphia 76ers here. That is a real sentence, in the year 2016, presented unironically.
The Sixers are at home, and there's a renewed energy about them with Joel Embiid on the court and playing. They gave the Oklahoma City Thunder all they could handle on Wednesday night and look like they'll grind out some victories they aren't supposed to this season.
This is nevertheless a temptation to resist. The Atlanta Hawks pose problems all over the floor for the Sixers. Dwight Howard could lock down Embiid. Kyle Korver and Kent Bazemore are wings Philly can only dream about. The Sixers have no answer for Paul Millsap with Ben Simmons out.
Even with Philly playing at home and riding the opening-night feel goodz, this isn't a game that should remain in doubt for very long.
The Pick: Atlanta Hawks (-7.5)
Charlotte Hornets (+2) vs. Boston Celtics (-2)
Although the Charlotte Hornets defense, fresh off a victory over the plucky Miami Heat, should pose some problems for the Boston Celtics, Al Horford should be able to have his way on the offensive end. The Hornets aren't particularly deep up front, especially with Roy Hibbert injured, and neither Frank Kaminsky nor Cody Zeller is fit to defend against Horford's outside shot.
Isaiah Thomas and Kemba Walker will be a good battle, one the Hornets might even win. But Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder trump Nicolas Batum and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. And even if they don't (they will), Boston is just plain deeper.
In the event the starting fives cancel each other out, that depth will matter. And that, of course, bodes well for the Celtics.
The Pick: Boston Celtics (-2)
Cleveland Cavaliers (-12) vs. Orlando Magic (+12)
As the season wears on, the Cleveland Cavaliers will likely return to their tradition of whiffing on large spreads against bad teams.
That was a common theme last year, as they sleptwalk their way through too many games. They could seldom ever pull away early on from inferior squads, letting them hang around for almost the entire game before charging past in the fourth quarter.
With that in mind, this shouldn't be a concern on Saturday night, in part because the Cavaliers are playing at home, but mostly because the Orlando Magic have thus far been that freaking terrible.
The Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers (-12)
New York Knicks (-1.5) vs. Memphis Grizzlies (+1.5)
Looking at the New York Knicks' starting lineup on paper, you want to believe they are a quality basketball team. You really do.
In reality, though, they are pieced together with ebbing veterans, injury-prone talent, a bunch of roster wild cards and the known contributions of Kristaps Porzingis and Carmelo Anthony.
Maybe that's enough to get them inside the Eastern Conference's playoff picture eventually. For now, based off their opening-night loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the offense is out of sorts and the defense isn't fit to guard a traffic cone.
Give this one to the shorthanded, but substantially more functional, Memphis Grizzlies.
The Pick: Memphis Grizzlies (+1.5)
Milwaukee Bucks (-6.5) vs. Brooklyn Nets (+6.5)
A 6.5-point spread favoring the Milwaukee Bucks would make sense if they had Khris Milddleton, but they don't. He will be lucky to play this season and has been spelled by the combination of Rashad Vaughn, Tony Snell and Michael Beasley.
Combine Middleton's absence with the general uncertainty of the Bucks' entire offensive and defensive schemes, and you don't have a recipe for a decisive victory
Not even against the (surprisingly scrappy) Brooklyn Nets.
The Pick: Brooklyn Nets (+6.5)
Chicago Bulls (-3.5) vs. Indiana Pacers (+3.5)
Do not take the Chicago Bulls' opening-night win over the Boston Celtics, at home, to mean they are some Eastern Conference juggernaut. They are still juggling spacing issues on the offensive end, most of which will be more pronounced over time, on the many nights when Dwyane Wade isn't inexplicably drilling four three-pointers.
You should nonetheless like their chances against the Indiana Pacers. Indiana is overrated to begin with—kind of like the Bulls themselves, only more so—and is playing through the tail end of a back-to-back, which began with a loss to the Brooklyn Nets.
With Jimmy Butler on Paul George and Robin Lopez and Taj Gibson on Myles Turner and Thaddeus Young, the Pacers will be hard-pressed to find many advantages. The Bulls deserve your faith here.
The Pick: Chicago Bulls (-3.5)
San Antonio Spurs (-14) vs. New Orleans Pelicans (+14)
The New Orleans Pelicans do not stand a remote chance in this one.
This is the San Antonio Spurs' first game of the season at home, for starters. They routinely clobber teams on their own turf, and Saturday night shouldn't be much different. The Pelicans don't stand up to them. Anthony Davis is entirely on his own at the moment, as the team tries to bide time for the (hopefully inevitable) returns of Jrue Holiday and Tyreke Evans, and that's just not enough.
Giving the Spurs 14 points remains a serious decision. These large spreads are always tricky this early in the season. But these are the Spurs, so it's not that tough of a decision.
The Pick: San Antonio Spurs (-14)
Sacramento Kings (-1.5) vs. Minnesota Timberwolves (+1.5)
Even if you think the Minnesota Timberwolves are overrated (they are), they should still be viewed more favorably than the Sacramento Kings.
DeMarcus Cousins will match Karl-Anthony Towns, but that's the Kings' only certainty. They could lose the battle everywhere else. They are neither deeper nor deploying more stars, and their roster makeup suggests they'll be markedly worse on the defensive end.
Expect the Timberwolves to get their first win of the season.
The Pick: Minnesota Timberwolves (+1.5)
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