Don’t look now, but the NBA hath returned. It’s only preseason and the game doesn’t matter, but pro basketball is back and the NBA betting juices are coming in full force, folks. We fared rather well with our daily NBA picks last season and we feel good going into a new year.

What better way to tip things off than to lend some advice for the first preseason game of the year, right? We’ll be sure to catch a few nights where there is more than just the one game, too, but with preseason being a rather unpredictable sport, we won’t get too crazy. That being said, you can bet on NBA preseason games and it’s fun to do, so why not?

The very first thing to consider is that the star players won’t all play (at least probably not) and even the ones that do will definitely have a minutes cap. Starters generally play 20-25 minutes, if not far less, regardless of the game flow or competitiveness. So really what you’re betting on is whether or not team A’s starters can dominate team B’s starters early and then who will get more out of their bench. Yes, that’s the nature of the beast even during the regular season and playoffs, but as we learned with NFL preseason betting, the backups on the bench are more important than ever.

We don’t need to get too cute for this one, as the Los Angeles Clippers should house the Denver Nuggets. The Clips are at home and will want to put on a show for their fans, plus Denver is sans Ty Lawson (traded to Rockets) and has a new coach. They’re also just not that good. Shooting for the Total may be the best bet to go with besides picking the Clippers, though, since this game should be fast-paced and have a good amount of scoring.

Denver’s starters have the potential to give L.A. a minor fight early, but that’s if all of them even play. Rookie point guard Emmanuel Mudiay should get some nice run, but he’s not match for Chris Paul (who is?), while the Nuggets have never had much success against Blake Griffin or DeAndre Jordan. The Clips got super deep over the summer, which is the big thing that will help them in a lot of tight games this year. It’s especially going to help them in blowouts, as their stars can exit earlier and let their solid bench clean up the mess.

Guys like Lance Stephenson, Austin Rivers, Jamal Crawford, Wesley Johnson and Josh Smith suddenly make up a very deep and balanced Clippers bench. Denver doesn’t stand much of a chance, but it’ll be a ton of fun to watch. NBA is back, baby!

Pick: Clippers 109, Nuggets 101

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