The big day is almost here. What ‘big day,’ you might ask? Well, depending on whether you are a great starter or a great finisher, one might call it the biggest day of the year: the start of the 2018-19 NBA season.
October 16th and the season tip-off with the 76ers vs. Celtics and Thunder vs. Warriors is just around the bend. But the 17th is when the schedule breaks open for the rest of the NBA, so let’s analyze a few games and set lines, then later we can go back and compare with well-reviewed Bovada, one of the top NBA’s betting outlets.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Toronto Raptors
October 17th, 7:30 PM ET
Air Canada Centre
LeBron is gone —as if you didn’t know— and the world is suddenly treating the Cavs like they are chopped liver. Well, news flash: the Cavaliers still have Kevin Love, J.R. Smith, George Hill, Tristan Thompson and Kyle Korver with a solid bench. Despite still having a solid roster, the Cavs are expected to fall off hard. They won 50 games with LeBron last season but now are expected to only hit around the 30 mark. This number is low. The competition gap in the east is closing, but it is still only a three-pony show, so the Cavaliers are likely to make the playoffs without Lebron.
The Raps picked up Kawhi Leonard and have high expectations for a deep playoff run. But even after grabbing Leonard from the Spurs, their season win total has dropped from the 59 they won last season to 55.5 this year. People are questioning Kawhi’s motivation and how hard he’ll play, but it’s a one-year deal in Toronto, and he’ll be looking to increase his free agency stock, so we should expect him to put forth his best effort.
The Raps are just 1-9 against the Cavaliers over their last ten meetings but, that is likely to change on their first game of the season. Despite the possibility that the Raptors will be without OG Anunoby, they should still be listed as three to four-point favorites at home.
Early Line: Toronto Raptors -3.5
Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Clippers
October 17th, 10:30 PM ET
The Clippers are not quite in shambles … but they’re not going to be great either. Now, no Blake, no CP3, and no DeAndre. With their new lineup, they are projected to win 36.5 games with Patrick Beverley at the helm. Although, I would lean towards the under on that one … especially with the landscape change in the Western Conference.
The Nuggets won 46 games last season and are projected to hit 47.5 in 2018-19. A healthy Nuggets team should be able to handle the Clips in the Staples Center, but Denver is riddled with injury. I would set the line with the Nuggets as two-point favorites but Jamal Murray may not play on, and Isaiah Thomas is also questionable so they may have to dig deep and go to the third string at point guard. Shooting Guard, Gary Harris is also questionable with a hamstring lesion. So the Nuggets back-court will be lacking fire-power.
We’ll know more as we get closer to the game day, but for now, the early line should favor the Clippers at home just slightly. The biggest question mark here is the fact that there is no DeAndre Jordan protecting the rim so that the game could open as a pick ‘em.
Early Line: LA Clippers -1