Chicago Bulls at Philadelphia 76ers +8.5 Total: 188.5
Though it has been just two games, the Chicago Bulls have not looked like the powerhouse team they were with Derrick Rose healthy. On the other hand, the Philadelphia 76ers look polished and have run out to a 2-0 record.
Chicago won a close game against the New York Knicks Thursday evening, 82-81. Derrick Rose hit a baseline shot with 5.7 seconds left to give Chicago the lead and the Knicks failed to score in the final seconds. Rose is off to a poor start shooting the ball, going 11 for 38 from the field, something that the rest of the roster has been struggling with, as well.
Picked by many experts in the preseason to have the NBA’s worst record when the season was all said and done – Philadelphia has looked as good as any team in the league in their first two games.
After beating the defending champion Miami Heat on Wednesday’s opening game 114-110, the Sixers rallied on the road in Washington, winning 109-102. Evan Turner, Thad Young and Spencer Hawes all combined for 60 points or more in their first two victories.
Rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams scored 22 points, dished out 12 assists and had an impressive nine steals in the win against Miami. However, the biggest surprise so far is Philadelphia’s effectiveness in the paint. They had the edge against the Heat, outscoring them 50-36 in the paint and also put up a whopping 74 points against the Wizards.
Trust me, I’m not anointing the 76ers as even an average team yet, but right now they are playing some fantastic basketball. With the Bulls shots still not falling and them just getting over some injuries, especially to their frontcourt – I think this is an excellent spot to take the points with Philly.
The Bulls traditionally dominate the 76ers in these matchups, but I’m not expecting it tonight. This team is young and athletic, and most of all, tough. Their home crowd will be behind them in this game, and I expect a close game down to the final buzzer.
Memphis Grizzlies at Dallas Mavericks -2.5 Total: 193
After opening the season with a loss last year, the Grizzlies went on a long winning streak en route to their best season in franchise history. The Mavericks, are also 1-1 on the year, and hope to get off to a strong start with their new roster.
Memphis lost to Western Conference rival Spurs at San Antonio to open the season on Wednesday. They followed up that performance with a 111-108 win against Detroit on Friday. It was the usual suspects for the Grizzlies contributing in the win. Mike Conley scored 22 points; Marc Gasol contributed another 15, including a game-tying tip-in in regulation with 8 seconds left.
Dallas easily handled the Atlanta Hawks in their opening game Wednesday evening but had trouble with the so far impressive Houston Rockets on Friday. The Mavericks trailed by 16 points at the end of the first quarter and never got another lead.
However, it has been good signs so far for Dallas’ revamped roster and former finals MVP. Dirk Nowitzki scored 22 points in the loss but has looked like the Dirk of old. He is shooting just over 48 percent from the field, and 50 percent from three to start the year. Offseason signing Monta Ellis has also looked spry. He scored 32 points in the opener and added 20 against the Rockets.
Some bettors and fans seem to think of the Mavericks this year as an afterthought in the West, but I think they will be, at minimum, a playoff team. In the loss against the Rockets they showed promise, and I think the Ellis and Nowitzki scoring combination are going to win a lot of ballgames for this team.
Dirk looks healthy and has his aggression back, a thing Mavericks will be happy to see. The bench has also been strong as Vince Carter continues to turn-back-the-clock, as they say and add a spark off the pine.
The Mavs lost three of four to the Grizzlies last year, but this is a new team. Memphis haven’t faced off against this Dallas team, and I think their scoring punch will cause problems for even Memphis’ tough defense.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Indiana Pacers -8.5 Total: 188.5
Indiana has started off the season with a bang and with much of the same formula as last year. Excellent defense and clutch shooting has led them to two straight wins to start the year. They will try to make it three in a row to start the season as the Cavaliers come to town.
The Pacers are one of the few teams on two days rest coming into this contest. They opened the season on Tuesday with a 97-87 win over the Orlando Magic in the opener and followed that up with a 95-90 at New Orleans. All-Star Paul George is off to a lightning start this year. He scored 32 points in the win at New Orleans and added 23 against the Magic.
Still, defense is the key for Indiana. They have held both of their opponents to under 90 points and under 40 percent from the field. Roy Hibbert already has 12 blocks, and the Pacers lead the NBA in rejections with 30.
The Cavaliers are 1-1 and are fresh off a 90-84 loss to the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday after shocking the Brooklyn Nets in Wednesday’s opener, 98-94. Both teams shot poorly in the game, but the Cavs managed to get the victory thanks in part to a dominant frontcourt performance of Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao.
The Cavs didn’t exactly look magnificent against the Nets, even though they got the victory and looked totally out of sorts against the Bobcats last night. They will face Indiana in a back-to-back, a Pacers team that has not had played a game since Wednesday evening.
Though 8.5 may seem like a lot to cover for a young talented team like the Cavaliers, I don’t think this team has found its stride yet. Indiana is a well oiled machine, especially defensively, and Cleveland’s offensive woes will only be amplified in a matchup like this. Tristan Thompson and Varejao will have a hard time doing much in the paint against Hibbert and the Cavs will have a tough time rebounding. I think they are simply just overmatched.
Eric has been a sports journalist for over 20 years and has travelled the world covering top sporting events for a number of publications. He also has a passion for betting and uses his in-depth knowledge of the sports world to pinpoint outstanding odds and value betting opportunities.
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