Real, live NBA action is finally back, as three games hit the hardwood on Tuesday night to get the 2015-16 NBA season started. The feeling in the air is so much different than preseason action, and while we enjoyed those games, it’s great to get the real thing back.
The Warriors and Cavs, the two team from last year’s NBA Finals, will both be looking to get the year started off right with wins, but they won’t be against each other. LeBron James leads his Cavs into the United Center to take on the Bulls, while Stephen Curry goes for a repeat run with his Warriors against Anthony Davis and the Pelicans at Oracle Arena. The third game of the night goes off at the same time as Cavs/Bulls (8 pm ET) and will showcase the Pistons and Hawks in Atlanta.
It should be a very interesting night and regardless of what happens, these three games are merely prepping us for a jam-packed Wednesday, which has a boat load of sweet matchups. We fared pretty well with our NBA picks a year ago and aim to assist you with your NBA betting once again this season. Let’s get to it:
Cavaliers @ Bulls (-3)
If you want a skip-ahead approach, this is the only game where I at all like the road team. Both teams are extremely banged up, but Cleveland has LeBron James and Kevin Love, while they also have a good amount of depth. They’ll be without Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert, but Mo Williams is a really nice backup to lean on and J.R. Smith won’t mind chucking three’s in lieu of Shump. The other key is Cleveland’s size and depth down low, as they have Timofey Mozgov, Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao to rotate against Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah.
This is an easy pick to me, as the Cavs got off to a slow start last year and can’t be interested in doing so again. They’ve also had Chicago’s number over the past year, while James routinely does as he pleases in this matchup. Derrick Rose could also be rusty and/or limited, too, which doesn’t help Chicago’s cause. Mike Dunleavy is also out, which hurts the Bulls on the outside and possibly defensively. I expect a tight game that probably goes down to the wire, but I like Cleveland to take this. That make them the pick straight up and obviously I have them beating the spread.
Pick: Cavs 97, Bulls 95
Pistons @ Hawks (-6.5)
This is an interesting game, as the Pistons are going to be better than they were a year ago, now that Reggie Jackson firmly has the starting point guard job and is more comfortable. Detroit also has built a roster of shooters around big man Andre Drummond, almost copying the successful Magic squads Stan Van Gundy pieced together a few years back. Having it all come together in Atlanta could prove difficult tonight, of course, as the Hawks were a staggering 35-6 home record a year ago. This also a series Atlanta has had little trouble with, as they went 3-1 against the Hawks during the 2014-15 season and have gone 2-2 or better in this matchup since 2007.
The Hawks did lose Demarre Carroll so their offensive flow and overall defense takes a minor hit, but they otherwise are the same team that is used to handling the Pistons. Detroit, meanwhile, got sleeker but lost big man Greg Monroe in the process. With just one game last year having either team top 100 points, we could see a slower tempo game. If so, that favors the Hawks, who are methodical on offense and gritty on defense. Both games in Atlanta were relatively easy wins for the Hawks, so being on their home floor, they have the distinct advantage. I’ll give them the straight up win and I narrowly expect them to cover, as well.
Pick: Hawks 101, Pistons 94
Pelicans @ Warriors (-10)
This may have been the best game of the night if the Pelicans were close to full strength. Instead, Jrue Holiday is starting the season on what figures to be a 15-minute cap, while Tyreke Evans, Norris Cole and Omer Asik are all sidelined with their own injuries. That puts a ton of pressure on Anthony Davis in the first game of the year, and add that it’s on the road against the defending champs, and it’s really tough to have much faith in New Orleans keeping this close.
While it looks bleak, Brow, Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon are all still here and can all fill it up offensively. Doing so at Oracle Arena against one of the best defenses in the league is asking a lot, while the Pellies must bring their A games defensively, as well. That’s just asking too much out of a depleted unit – especially considering Golden State would have a line like this even with the Pelicans at full strength.
In eight contests last year, the Warriors took the Pellies down seven times (7-1) and put up 100+ points in seven of those games. It wouldn’t be totally crazy to see Davis beast out and make this a fun game to cap the first night of the regular season. But the odds are heavily against it. I’m taking the Warriors straight up all day and I’ll take them to cover with mild hesistance.
Pick: Warriors 112, Pelicans 97