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NBA Betting News, Match-Ups and Trends For Wednesday 10/17/18

NBA Betting News, Match-Ups and Trends For Wednesday 10/17/18 1 month 3 days ago #492680

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Betting news, trends, odds and predictions for from various handicappers and websites for Wednesday 10/17/18
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NBA Betting News, Match-Ups and Trends For Wednesday 10/17/18 1 month 3 days ago #492681

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Brooklyn Nets vs. Detroit Pistons Preview and Predictions 10-17-2018 in NBA

NBA Previews 16th October 2018 by Gracenote
Nets vs. Pistons Preview and Predictions

by Gracenote on 10/16/2018

The Detroit Pistons never got where they wanted to be with Stan Van Gundy leading the basketball operations and in control of the bench, and the team decided to make a change in leadership. The Pistons will kick off the Dwane Casey era by hosting the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday.

Casey led the Toronto Raptors to a franchise-record 59 wins last season but could not guide the team around LeBron James in the playoffs, leading to a parting of the ways and a new start for Casey in Detroit. "I love his willingness to mix it up," star forward Blake Griffin told reporters of Casey, "and have lineups that aren't necessarily traditional but maybe work to our advantage." The Nets remain in rebuilding mode but are taking steps in the right direction and are excited about young guards like D'Angelo Russell and Caris LeVert. "Our strength is on the perimeter," Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson told reporters. "We don't have a real post-up guy. But now, I feel confident. We're more of a spread so we can drive the ball better, we can get to the rim better. ... There's going to be more room to (pick-and-roll), more room to drive."

TV: 7 p.m. ET, YES (Brooklyn), FS Detroit

ABOUT THE NETS (2017-18: 28-54): Russell, 22, is being counted on to lead the team and is hoping to make it through the season healthy after playing just 48 games last season due to a knee injury. The former No. 2 overall draft pick averaged 15.5 points on 41.4 percent shooting in his first season with Brooklyn last year while posting a career-best 5.2 assists. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (groin) is a game-time decision, fellow forward DeMarre Carroll is out indefinitely due to an ankle injury and wing Allen Crabbe (ankle) and guard Shabazz Napier (hamstring) will also miss the game, while the team is looking for center Jarrett Allen (8.2 points and 5.4 rebounds as a rookie) to take a step forward.

ABOUT THE PISTONS (2017-18: 39-43): Griffin averaged 19.8 points, 6.6 rebounds and 6.2 assists in 25 games after being acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers last season and will set up in the frontcourt alongside center Andre Drummond. The 25-year-old Drummond averaged 15 points and 16 rebounds in 2017-18 while shooting a career-best 60.5 percent from the free-throw line. Health is key for Detroit, which is not only leaning on the oft-injured Griffin but is hoping for a full season from point guard Reggie Jackson, who was limited to 45 games due to an ankle injury in 2017-18.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Hollis-Jefferson suffered his injury in August and sat out all four preseason games..

2. Griffin scored 29 points on 11-of-17 shooting in 26 during the final preseason game on Friday.

3. The Pistons took three of the four meetings last season, with Brooklyn's lone win coming at Detroit on Jan. 21.

PREDICTION: Pistons 98, Nets 95
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NBA Betting News, Match-Ups and Trends For Wednesday 10/17/18 1 month 3 days ago #492682

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Milwaukee Bucks vs. Charlotte Hornets Preview and Predictions 10-17-2018 in NBA

NBA Previews 16th October 2018 by Gracenote
Bucks vs. Hornets Preview and Predictions

by Gracenote on 10/16/2018

The Milwaukee Bucks and the Charlotte Hornets both disappointed relative to expectations last season, leading to head coaching changes and roster tinkering from both clubs. The Hornets will kick off the James Borrego era by hosting Mike Budenholzer and the Bucks on Wednesday.

Budenholzer, who spent the previous five seasons as the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks and guided that franchise to the playoffs four times, inherits a roster that includes one of the most exciting young players in the NBA, Giannis Antetokounmpo. "We're just getting to know each other, but my first impression of him is that he is very much like (other great players I've coached) mentally," Budenholzer told Yahoo Sports. "His approach to the game, his desire to be great, his competitive spirit, the way he treats his teammates. I'm beyond impressed with how he stacks up. His characteristics stand out to me." Like Budenholzer, Borrego is a former assistant coach from the San Antonio Spurs and lured a former pupil over when the Hornets signed veteran point guard Tony Parker. Parker, 36, spent the first 17 seasons of his career with the Spurs and is trying to bounce back after averaging career lows of 7.7 points and 3.5 assists in 2017-18.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, FS Wisconsin (Milwaukee), FS Southeast (Charlotte)

ABOUT THE BUCKS (2017-18: 44-38): Antetokounmpo led Milwaukee in points (26.9) and rebounds (10 per game) while shooting 52.9 percent from the floor and increased his averages in those categories in each of his first five seasons. Antetokounmpo, 23, and veteran swingman Khris Middleton, who averaged 20.1 points during the 2017-18 campaign, were given a chance to sit down with Budenholzer before the team formally offered the coach a contract. Those two are expected to lead the team along with point guard Eric Bledsoe, who averaged 17.8 points and 5.1 assists during his first season with the team in 2017-18.

ABOUT THE HORNETS (2017-18, 36-46): Parker will serve as the backup to point guard Kemba Walker, who repeatedly expressed his desire to stay with the franchise that drafted him as trade rumors swirled last season. Walker, 28, averaged 22.1 points and 5.6 assists last season to carry the team as Nicolas Batum and Cody Zeller battled injuries. Zeller, 26, enters the season healthy and is expected to shoulder a much bigger load on both ends of the floor after Charlotte waived goodbye to Dwight Howard in the offseason.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Milwaukee acquired SG Jodie Meeks from the Washington Wizards on Monday but is expected to waive the 31-year-old veteran.

2. Borrego is the first Hispanic head coach in NBA history.

3. The teams split four meetings last season, with the home team winning each contest.

PREDICTION: Bucks 106, Hornets 101
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NBA Betting News, Match-Ups and Trends For Wednesday 10/17/18 1 month 3 days ago #492683

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Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Toronto Raptors Preview and Predictions 10-17-2018 in NBA

NBA Previews 16th October 2018 by Gracenote
Cavaliers vs. Raptors Preview and Predictions

by Gracenote on 10/16/2018

A matchup between the Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers over the last few seasons would have served as a playoff preview, but things are changing in the Eastern Conference. The Cavaliers will begin life without LeBron James - again - when they visit the Raptors on Wednesday.

Cleveland advanced to the NBA Finals in each of the last four seasons - winning one title - with James leading the way but he decided to move onto the Los Angeles Lakers in free agency over the summer, leaving the team with a giant hole to fill. The Cavaliers are hoping Kevin Love can step back up to superstar level and mold younger players like Rodney Hood, Larry Nance Jr. and rookie point guard Collin Sexton into a playoff team. The Raptors lost to the Cavaliers in the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, leading to the departure of coach Dwane Casey and a roster shakeup that sent All-Star DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio and brought back former MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard. "Chemistry kind of builds all season," Toronto coach Nick Nurse, who was an assistant with the Raptors the five previous seasons before being promoted, told reporters. "It's not like we say, 'OK, it's Game One and now we've got our chemistry.' I think it shifts and moves all season long."

TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FS Ohio (Cleveland), Sportsnet (Toronto)

ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (2017-18: 50-32): Love averaged 17.6 points on 45.8 percent shooting as James' second fiddle last season but will be looking to become the player that averaged 26.1 points and 12.5 rebounds in his final season in Minnesota in 2013-14. "I'm excited to see how far that this team can go," Love told reporters. "I've been the No. 1 guy previously for four-to-six years you could say, in my time in Minnesota. I've been a guy that's sacrificed a lot, learned a lot in every year, so I'm excited to put that all together. I'm looking forward to, even if it's not on the floor too, as we talked about, putting my arm around the young guys, keeping that culture going with our entire team and organization and just try to keep building this team up." Love still has veteran support in the form of point guard George Hill, 32, who averaged just 9.4 points and 2.8 assists in 24 games after arriving in Cleveland last season.

ABOUT THE RAPTORS (2017-18: 59-23): Leonard was second only to James in the "best overall player in the NBA" debate after winning Defensive Player of the Year awards in 2015 and 2016 and averaging 25.5 points during the 2016-17 campaign, but a quad injury that limited him to nine games last season eroded the trust between Leonard and the San Antonio front office. The result was a trade to Toronto, where Leonard will pair with All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry in an effort to keep a Raptors team that finished with the best record in the East last season on top. "We're not going to be clicking on all cylinders right away," Lowry told reporters. "There's a lot of work we need to do, but we'll be fine. It's a long process. Everything is going to take time - new players, a new offense, new defense, new head coach. Everything is going to take patience and time."

BUZZER BEATERS

1. The Raptors added veteran C Greg Monroe, who averaged 10.3 points and 6.9 rebounds last season, to an already-potent bench.

2. The Cavaliers signed Nance to a four-year, $44.8 million extension on Monday.

3. Toronto G Delon Wright (thigh) is questionable for the opener.

PREDICTION: Raptors 109, Cavaliers 100
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NBA Betting News, Match-Ups and Trends For Wednesday 10/17/18 1 month 3 days ago #492684

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Miami Heat vs. Orlando Magic Preview and Predictions 10-17-2018 in NBA

NBA Previews 16th October 2018 by Gracenote
Heat vs. Magic Preview and Predictions

by Gracenote on 10/16/2018

Dwyane Wade's final season in the NBA begins Wednesday when he leads the Miami Heat into a matchup at the Orlando Magic in the opener for both teams. The 36-year-old Wade, who played his first 13 seasons with the Heat and returned late in 2017-18 after stints with Chicago and Cleveland, signed a one-year deal for a last go-round with a team that has high hopes.

Rumors persist that Wade and Co. could soon be joined by Minnesota Timberwolves All-Star Jimmy Butler, who has asked for a trade and reportedly has interest in Miami, although it appears Butler will begin the season in Minnesota. The Magic have endured an Eastern Conference-high six straight seasons without a playoff berth and they have fallen short of 30 wins five times in that stretch. Steve Clifford, who was let go after five seasons coaching in Charlotte, takes over on the sidelines to guide a team that ranked 23rd in scoring (103.4 points per game) and 28th in 3-point shooting (35.1 percent). The trio of Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic combined to average 51.9 points but each of them was limited to 57 starts due to injuries.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, FS Sun (Miami), FS Florida (Orlando)

ABOUT THE HEAT (2017-18: 44-38): Miami made a three-win improvement last season from the year before even as center Hassan Whiteside had a disappointing campaign marked by injury and frustration over his role, a scenario that has put a target on the big man's back entering his seventh season. "I feel like when you average a double-double for a season and people say it's a bad season, you have to combine that with the pressure I put on myself to play well," Whiteside - who averaged 14 points and 11.4 rebounds in 54 games - recently told reporters. Veteran power forward James Johnson helped pick up some of the slack during Whiteside's absences with a career-high 41 starts, but Johnson is questionable for the opener due to an illness.

ABOUT THE MAGIC (2017-18: 25-57): Gordon's numbers have improved dramatically each of the last three seasons and he averaged 17.6 points along with 7.9 rebounds while making 33.6 percent of his 3-point tries last season. Vucevic is one of three listed seven-footers on a team loaded with size, and rookie center Mohamed Bamba showed he's ready to contribute with averages of 11.5 points and 6.3 rebounds in limited preseason action. Forward Jonathan Isaac also adds a great deal of height and athleticism, and is expected to make a big impact after being limited to just 27 games as a rookie due to ankle issues.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Isaac had 15 points, eight rebounds, two steals and one blocked shot in just 17 minutes against Memphis in preseason action Oct. 10.

2. Whiteside needs one double-double to become the third player in franchise history to record 150.

3. Vucevic scored at least 20 points in three of his five preseason games.

PREDICTION: Heat 107, Magic 104
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NBA Betting News, Match-Ups and Trends For Wednesday 10/17/18 1 month 3 days ago #492685

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Memphis Grizzlies vs. Indiana Pacers Preview and Predictions 10-17-2018 in NBA

NBA Previews 16th October 2018 by Gracenote
Grizzlies vs. Pacers Preview and Predictions

by Gracenote on 10/16/2018

The Indiana Pacers have recorded three straight winning seasons, but were bounced from the first round of the playoffs each time. Behind All-Star guard Victor Oladipo and a retooled supporting cast, the Pacers hope to take a step up the ladder in the Eastern Conference and they begin that pursuit Wednesday against the visiting Memphis Grizzlies in the season opener for both teams.

Oladipo broke out to average 23.1 points and an NBA-leading 2.4 steals in his first season with Indiana, which took eventual Eastern Conference-champion Cleveland to seven games in the first round of the playoffs. The Pacers imported former Grizzlies guard Tyreke Evans, who averaged 19.4 points last season, and sharpshooter Doug McDermott to help bolster a team that ranked sixth in the NBA in shooting (47.2 percent) but was tied for 25th in made 3-pointers per game. The Grizzlies saw a streak of seven straight playoff appearances come to an end last spring as star point guard Mike Conley missed all but 12 games due to Achilles and heel issues. The Ohio State product showed no rust in four preseason contests, averaging 16.5 points on 54.5 percent shooting in 27 minutes.

TV: 7 p.m. ET, FS Southeast (Memphis), FS Indiana

ABOUT THE GRIZZLIES (2017-18: 22-60): The prize for a 22-win season was the fourth pick in the draft, which gave Memphis the right to select Jaren Jackson Jr., a candidate to start at power forward. The 6-11 Michigan State product averaged 13.4 points in 20.4 minutes - including 18 in 24 minutes against Indiana on Oct. 6 - while making 5-of-9 from 3-point range during the preseason. He will get some guidance along the way from veteran big man Marc Gasol, who averaged 29 points, 11 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.5 blocks in two games against the Pacers last season.

ABOUT THE PACERS (2017-18: 48-34): Indiana's chance to take a step forward may depend largely on the play of talented power forward Myles Turner, whose production dipped a bit last season but who has the potential to be a game-changer on both ends. "Myles is amazing," Oladipo told the Indianapolis Star. "He's changed his body. You can see it. He's more confident. His head is in the right place." The 22-year-old Turner, who reportedly signed a four-year extension this week, was third in the NBA with 1.82 blocks per game while making a career-high 56 3-pointers in 2017-18.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. The Pacers won both meetings last season, although Oladipo averaged 17 points on 40.6 percent shooting.

2. Grizzlies SF Chandler Parsons is healthy after playing just 70 games over the last two seasons.

3. Memphis ranked 24th in 3-point attempts (26.2) last season, while Indiana was 26th (24.5).

PREDICTION: Pacers 109, Grizzlies 102
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NBA Betting News, Match-Ups and Trends For Wednesday 10/17/18 1 month 3 days ago #492686

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Minnesota Timberwolves vs. San Antonio Spurs Preview and Predictions 10-17-2018 in NBA

NBA Previews 16th October 2018 by Gracenote
Timberwolves vs. Spurs Preview and Predictions

by Gracenote on 10/16/2018

Jimmy Butler has been a major distraction for the Minnesota Timberwolves but the four-time All-Star has promised to mind his manners. Butler will play in the team's season opener against the host San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday but is still hoping to be traded as soon as possible.

Trade talks with the Miami Heat collapsed and Butler was incorrigible throughout his first practice before owner Glen Taylor sat down with him Sunday and the two reached a truce. "At the end of the day, he expects me to go out there and win some basketball games," Butler told reporters of the conversation. "I think that's what my team expects me to do. That's what Minnesota, the fan base, expects me to do. The fans that are not in Minnesota expect me to go out there and compete, be the fun-loving basketball player that I am. That's what I will be." San Antonio is distraction-free after dealing former All-Star Kawhi Leonard to the Toronto Raptors to end the drama that lasted all last season. The Spurs are making a big transition with Leonard and Tony Parker (Charlotte Hornets) on other teams as well as the retirement of longtime stalwart Manu Ginobili.

TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, FS North (Minnesota), KENS (San Antonio)

ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES (2017-18: 47-35): The trade market for Butler has gone quiet with the season about to commence and small forward Andrew Wiggins said he is fine with Butler's presence. "All I know is when we start playing the real games, Jimmy is someone you want on your team," Wiggins told reporters. Minnesota ended a 13-season playoff drought by reaching the postseason last April on the final day of the campaign with Butler (22.2 points), center Karl-Anthony Towns (21.3 points, 12.3 rebounds) and Wiggins (17.7 points) leading the way.

ABOUT THE SPURS (2017-18: 47-35): Shooting guard DeMar DeRozan will team with power forward LaMarcus Aldridge to provide the firepower but he wasn't the least bit happy when he was first dealt to San Antonio in the trade for Leonard. The four-time All-Star was comfortable in Toronto and felt team management had assured him the he wouldn't be traded but now he is excited about being a member of the perennial contender and playing for coach Gregg Popovich. "You definitely want to be around a culture of this magnitude, play with a coach of this status, one of the greatest coaches of all time," DeRozan told reporters. "To be here is definitely a blessing."

BUZZER BEATERS

1. The Spurs won 13 of the past 14 meetings.

2. San Antonio SF Rudy Gay (heel) is expected to play in the opener.

3. Minnesota backup C Justin Patton (foot) is sidelined indefinitely after being injured in mid-September.

PREDICTION: Spurs 104, Timberwolves 97
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NBA Betting News, Match-Ups and Trends For Wednesday 10/17/18 1 month 3 days ago #492687

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Atlanta Hawks vs. New York Knicks Preview and Predictions 10-17-2018 in NBA

NBA Previews 16th October 2018 by Gracenote
Hawks vs. Knicks Preview and Predictions

by Gracenote on 10/16/2018

The New York Knicks host the Atlanta Hawks in the season opener on Wednesday, and while winning remains the ultimate objective, both teams also will measure development and process as they try to crawl from the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings. The opener marks debuts for new head coaches David Fizdale (Knicks) and Lloyd Pierce (Hawks), beginning a season where New York is without Kristaps Porzingis and Atlanta hands the offense to rookie Trae Young.

Porzingis is recovering from surgery to repair a torn ACL in his left knee, and may not be back on the court before Christmas. "A lot of people count us out, but we know what we're made of, we know the work we put in this offseason," Knicks guard Tim Hardaway Jr. told reporters during preseason. "All we can do now is go out and prove it." The Hawks finished with a conference-low 24 victories (five below the Knicks) last season and drafted Young - who led the nation in scoring and assists last season at Oklahoma - to serve as centerpiece of the rebuild. "Our margin of error to start, when you have a new team, a new staff, is very slim," Pierce told the media during preseason. "So, we need to try and get on the same page as early and often as we can."

TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, FS Southeast (Atlanta), MSG (New York)

ABOUT THE HAWKS (2017-18: 24-58): Young scored in double figures with five-plus assists in four of his five preseason games, including a 30-foot game-winning 3-pointer. The Hawks also will deploy heavy minutes to two other first-round picks in Kevin Huerter and Omari Spellman, and have brought in a few veterans - including 41-year-old Vince Carter and former Knicks guard Jeremy Lin (who played one game last season). John Collins, who earned NBA all-rookie second-team honors averaged 10.5 points and 7.3 rebounds, will miss at least the first three games with a left ankle injury.

ABOUT THE KNICKS (2017-18: 29-53): Hardaway averaged 18.7 points in 24 games after Porzingis' injury and opens the season as New York's top offensive threat. Center Enes Kanter finished fifth in the league in field-goal percentage (59.2) and tied for sixth in rebounds (11.0 per game), and continued to make a positive impression by averaging 16.3 points and 13.3 rebounds in three preseason games. Kevin Knox, the ninth overall pick in this summer's draft, shot 3-of-15 from the field in his final two preseason games.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. The Knicks likely will be without G Courtney Lee (sidelined in preseason with a neck injury) and G Emmanuel Mudiay (sprained right ankle) for the opener.

2. Atlanta G Taurean Prince enters his third season in the league after posting five 30-point games in 2017-18.

3. The Hawks won two of three meetings with the Knicks last season, including a 99-96 triumph on Feb. 4 in New York - just one of eight Atlanta road victories in 2017-18.

PREDICTION: Knicks 103, Hawks 97
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NBA Betting News, Match-Ups and Trends For Wednesday 10/17/18 1 month 3 days ago #492688

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New Orleans Pelicans vs. Houston Rockets Preview and Predictions 10-17-2018 in NBA

NBA Previews 16th October 2018 by Gracenote
Pelicans vs. Rockets Preview and Predictions

by Gracenote on 10/16/2018

If there is a team in the NBA capable of putting an early end to the Golden State Warriors' dynasty, it is the Houston Rockets. The Rockets, who finished with the best record in the NBA during the 2017-18 season and took the Warriors to seven games in the Western Conference finals, will try to start building toward a trip to the NBA Finals when they open the 2018-19 campaign by hosting the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday.

Houston added Carmelo Anthony to the All-Star duo of James Harden and Chris Paul over the offseason and is hoping the former star thrives in a reduced role. "He's going to be perfect," Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni told the Houston Chronicle of Anthony. "James and Chris don't have to carry the load. He can make plays. His game, too, toward the end of games, mid-range, post-ups are good. We don't want to do it most of the game because 3s are better throughout the game, but when it comes down to one point, two points, three points, whatever, it gives us another big option." The Pelicans lost to the Warriors in the Western Conference semifinals last season and are looking to take their own step forward behind star Anthony Davis, who coach Alvin Gentry feels is the best player in the league. "There's no one in the league we would trade him for," Gentry told reporters of Davis. "There's no one out of the league. Not even Beyonce. We wouldn't trade him for her, then he's probably untouchable."

TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN, FS New Orleans, AT&T Sportsnet Southwest (Houston)

ABOUT THE PELICANS (2017-18: 48-34): New Orleans' annual challenge is finding enough support offensively and defensively for Davis, who shouldered a big load while averaging 28.1 points, 11.1 rebounds and 2.6 blocks while shooting 53.4 percent from the floor last season. The Pelicans added some defense and rebounding punch by signing power forward Julius Randle to a two-year, $18 million deal. New Orleans is also expecting to take a step forward with Nikola Mirotic, who averaged 14.6 points and 8.2 rebounds in 30 games with the team after being acquired from the Chicago Bulls last season.

ABOUT THE ROCKETS (2017-18: 65-17): Houston also added small forward James Ennis, point guard Michael Carter-Williams and forward Marquese Chriss, but the biggest move the team made in the offseason was signing center Clint Capela to a five-year, $90 million extension. Capela averaged 13.9 points, 10.8 rebounds and 1.9 blocks while shooting 65.2 percent from the floor last season and served as the team's defensive anchor. Ennis is expected to move into the starting small forward spot vacated by Trevor Ariza, who signed a one-year, $15 million deal with the Phoenix Suns over the summer.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Rockets F Zhou Qi (knee) is expected to miss the first two weeks.

2. New Orleans acquired SF Wesley Johnson from the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for F/C Alexis Ajinca.

3. Houston took three of the four meetings last season.

PREDICTION: Rockets 123, Pelicans 106
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NBA Betting News, Match-Ups and Trends For Wednesday 10/17/18 1 month 3 days ago #492689

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Utah Jazz vs. Sacramento Kings Preview and Predictions 10-17-2018 in NBA

NBA Previews 16th October 2018 by Gracenote
Jazz vs. Kings Preview and Predictions

by Gracenote on 10/16/2018

The Utah Jazz won 99 games over the previous two seasons and they open another promising campaign on Wednesday when they visit the Sacramento Kings. Utah won a playoff series in back-to-back seasons and looks to take another step forward this year.

Rookie guard Donovan Mitchell was the force that kept the team from declining after All-Star Gordon Hayward departed as a free agent prior to 2017-18 and power forward Derrick Favors enjoyed the last two seasons much better than the 57-loss club he was part of in 2013-14. "I was here for the lowest of the lows, I was here when we won 25 games, and it definitely feels a whole lot better to win 50 and be in the playoffs," Favors told reporters. "And hopefully we come into this year and kind of repeat that, and get even further." The Kings are at the other end of the spectrum with 12 straight seasons of missing the playoffs but are hoping No. 2 overall pick Marvin Bagley Jr. will help energize the rebuilding project. "Me personally, you want to come in and have a good season, and you've got to go through ups and downs to do that," Bagley told reporters. "So, it is just a time where I am just trying to learn and eventually as the season goes on it will come to me and everything will start clicking."

TV: 10 p.m. ET, AT&T SportsNet (Utah), NBCS California (Sacramento)

ABOUT THE JAZZ (2017-18: 48-34): Utah has virtually the same team as last season and coach Quin Snyder is guarding against anyone becoming too comfortable. "I told the team I think there's a lot of room for improvement," Snyder told reporters. "Sometimes we associate continuity with, I don't want to say complacency, but that you're a finished product, so to speak, that you have what you want with continuity. That doesn't necessarily hold true in my mind." Mitchell emerged as a star while averaging 20.5 points and was runner-up in the Rookie of the Year balloting behind Philadelphia's Ben Simmons.

ABOUT THE KINGS (2017-18: 27-55): Center Willie Cauley-Stein shines at times and disappears at other moments and Sacramento didn't offer him an extension prior to Monday's deadline for fourth-year players, which means he will be a restricted free agent after the season. The Kings are willing to wait and see if the 25-year-old Cauley-Stein steps up his game - he averaged career bests of 12.8 points and seven rebounds last season - and plays more consistently before making a big financial commitment. "They made it pretty clear," Cauley-Stein told reporters recently of Sacramento management. "Dominate both sides of the floor and what you think is going to happen is going to happen, so that's what I came here to do."

BUZZER BEATERS

1. The Jazz went 3-0 against the Kings last season and won the past five meetings.

2. Sacramento SG Bogdan Bogdanovic (knee) will miss the first three weeks of the season after undergoing surgery in September.

3. Utah F Thabo Sefolosha will miss the first five games of the season due to a suspension for violating the NBA's anti-drug program.

PREDICTION: Jazz 108, Kings 103
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NBA Betting News, Match-Ups and Trends For Wednesday 10/17/18 1 month 3 days ago #492690

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Denver Nuggets vs. LA Clippers Preview and Predictions 10-17-2018 in NBA

NBA Previews 16th October 2018 by Gracenote
by Gracenote on 10/16/2018

The Los Angeles Clippers missed the playoffs last season and the revamped team begins the task of getting back to the postseason on Wednesday, when they host the Denver Nuggets. The Clippers made six consecutive playoff appearances before being left out last season while Denver is mired in a five-season postseason drought.

Los Angeles has fully moved on from the era that included Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan and the team is now taking on more of a feisty persona, the best example being stellar defensive guard Patrick Beverley. "We don't have a lot of pushovers in this locker room," shooting guard Lou Williams told reporters. "I think that goes a long way. Especially with a lot of people just writing us off and saying we're a mediocre basketball team." The Nuggets lost to the Minnesota Timberwolves in overtime on the final day of the regular season to again sit out the postseason but feel standout center Nikola Jokic (18.5 points, 10.7 rebounds last season) is ready to help carry the team to a playoff berth. "We have an identity now and Nikola is a huge part of that identity," Denver coach Michael Malone told reporters. "He's slowly and surely having that confidence and that swagger to be a franchise player."

TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, Altitude (Denver), Prime Ticket (Los Angeles)

ABOUT THE NUGGETS (2017-18: 46-36): Denver cleared out most of its reserves - including forwards Kenneth Faried and Wilson Chandler and guard Devin Harris - and players such as forward Trey Lyles and guard Monte Morris will have bigger roles. Malone has the roster flexibility of either starting swingman Will Barton (15.7 points) or bringing him off the bench while veteran power forward Paul Millsap is impressed that everybody is on the same page. "We have guys who are willing to work and put the team first," Millsap told reporters. "Everybody is doing the right things."

ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (2017-18: 42-40): Los Angeles is banking on small forward Danilo Gallinari remaining healthy and being the key cog on the offensive end. Gallinari has been injury plagued throughout his nine-year NBA career and the trend continued last season when he played in just 21 contests, though he bristles at the always-hurt reputation. "It's tough because it's not the truth," Gallinari told reporters. "I had two big injuries, one in my back my rookie year (with the New York Knicks) and when I was in Denver, my knee. Other than that, I played every season. ... I had small injuries that everybody else has. A little strain, you're out one week. Twist your ankle, out two weeks."

BUZZER BEATERS

1. The Nuggets won four of the past six meetings.

2. Denver PG Isaiah Thomas (hip) is still recovering from offseason surgery while F Michael Porter Jr. (back), the team's first-round draft pick, has no firm timetable for when he will make his debut.

3. Los Angeles traded F Wesley Johnson to the New Orleans Pelicans for C Alexis Ajinca and immediately waived Ajinca.

PREDICTION: Clippers 101, Nuggets 96
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NBA Betting News, Match-Ups and Trends For Wednesday 10/17/18 1 month 3 days ago #492691

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Dallas Mavericks vs. Phoenix Suns Preview and Predictions 10-17-2018 in NBA

NBA Previews 16th October 2018 by Gracenote
Mavericks vs. Suns Preview and Predictions

by Gracenote on 10/16/2018

Both teams have highly touted rookies making their NBA debuts when the Phoenix Suns host the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday. Phoenix center Deandre Ayton is expected to be an impact player after being the top pick of the draft, while Dallas is high on guard Luka Doncic, the third overall pick who was acquired from Atlanta in a draft-night trade.

The 7-foot-1 Ayton is viewed as the type of player who can turn around a struggling franchise's fortunes and he says he is up to the task of reviving the Suns, who won fewer than 25 games in each of the past three seasons. "I don't take that as pressure at all," Ayton told reporters. "If I don't hear that, it means I'm not doing my job." The Mavericks are coming off their worst season since going 20-62 in 1997-98 and Doncic, who was the EuroLeague MVP last season, is one of the building pieces expected to help forge a turnaround. "I think I'm going to play my game similar to in Europe," Doncic told reporters. "It's a different game. We have some other rules, but I will play my game. I always say you can improve everything, so for me to be the player I want, I need to work hard every day and improve everything."

TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, FS Southwest (Dallas), FS Arizona (Phoenix)

ABOUT THE MAVERICKS (2017-18: 24-58): Small forward Harrison Barnes will miss the opener due to a hamstring injury and coach Rick Carlisle said the team's leading scorer (18.9 average) from last season should be back by early next week. Franchise legend Dirk Nowitzki will miss the opener and could be sidelined the rest of the month as he continues his recovery from left ankle surgery in April. The 40-year-old Nowitzki is the sixth-leading scorer in NBA history with 31,187 points but he will be a reserve once he is healthy.

ABOUT THE SUNS (2017-18: 21-61): Standout shooting guard Devin Booker has been cleared to play in the opener after being sidelined the past five weeks due to undergoing surgery on his broken right hand. "Devin is doing great," first-year Phoenix coach Igor Kokoskov told reporters while revealing Booker was ready. "He's in a good place. Very vocal, very active, looks healthy." Booker averaged 24.9 points last season while being limited to 54 games due to injury and received a five-year, $158 million extension during the offseason.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. The Suns went 3-0 against the Mavericks last season and won the past five meetings.

2. New Dallas C DeAndre Jordan posted more than 40 double-doubles in each of the past five seasons.

3. Phoenix agreed on a one-year deal with SG Jamal Crawford, the 18-year veteran who ranks fifth in NBA history with 2,153 3-point baskets.

PREDICTION: Mavericks 105, Suns 101
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October 17, 2018
By Tony Mejia

Game of the Night - New Orleans at Houston (-7.5/229), ESPN, 8:05 ET

These teams have met twice since DeMarcus Cousins tore his achilles in the closing seconds of a Pelicans’ win late last January, a moment that forever altered the future of New Orleans’ franchise. Losing the All-Star center they envisioned playing next to Anthony Davis into the next decade forced them to go out and acquire Nikola Mirotic, whose ability to spread the floor made for a more efficient brand of ball as Alvin Gentry got the team to play at the faster tempo he prefers, ultimately leading to a playoff berth.

Although they made a lukewarm offer to Cousins, the Pels were ready to move on when he passed on the deal and are excited about adding Julius Randle as a replacement in addition to keeping Mirotic in the fold. Rajon Rondo left for the Lakers, so Elfrid Payton was signed to try and fill the role next to Jrue Holiday so that Gentry always has playmakers on the floor looking to push and feed Davis, who has made no secret of his desire to emerge as MVP this season.


That type of push is possible, especially if the Pelicans can find a way to overcome the Southwest Divisions top team, a Rockets squad that has surpassed the Spurs as the team to beat in what’s been the NBA’s most loaded division over the past two decades. The Northwest is vying for that distinction now, but there’s still plenty of quality for New Orleans to overcome with the Spurs still a factor and the Mavericks and Grizzlies looking improved to start the season. Houston is the team to beat, however, and opens at home looking to bounce back from a demoralizing end to their championship pursuit last May. Had Chris Paul not blown a hamstring in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals, the Rockets probably would’ve opened on Tuesday and hosted a “Ring Night.” Instead, they’ll tip off looking to see this season’s roster take shape given a number of tweaks.

Paul returns alongside reigning MVP James Harden and center Clint Capela, who just missed out on an All-Star spot but signed a five-year, $90 million extension nonetheless. Carmelo Anthony has come on board to serve as the team’s sixth man, making the transition after being unwilling to come off the bench in Oklahoma City, where he wore down over the course of last season, eroding into a liablity come playoffs. James Ennis III will start at small forward alongside holdovers P.J. Tucker and Capela up front, while the departure of standout defenders Trevor Ariza and Luc Mbah a Moute require guys like Michael Carter-Williams and Marquese Chriss to step their games up off the bench. Shooter Brandon Knight is also on board, but will join Chriss and forward Zhou Qi in missing this game due to injury.

New Orleans is healthy, but lost three of four against Houston last season and hasn’t won a season series against its division rival since 2011. The Rockets have scored over 100 points against New Orleans in 13 straight, winning 10 of those matchups outright. Mike D’Antoni and Gentry are great friends who believe in getting up and down the floor, so it’s no surprise to see this total as high as it is, approaching 230. Despite their preference for playing at a fast pace, the ‘over’ was just 2-2 last season.

Memphis at Indiana(-6.5/207), 7:05 p.m. ET: Mike Conley looked sharp this preseason after missing the first 70 games last season due to a torn Achilles, ending the Grizzlies’ realistic chances of contending before they really got started. Losing him so early ended up costing David Fizdale his job after he clashed with Marc Gasol amid all the losing, altering the direction of the franchise. J.B. Bickerstaff ended up being hired as head coach after an interim stint and gets Conley, Gasol and Chandler Parsons back at 100 percent, so there’s optimism that this group can return to playoff contention. No. 4 pick Jaren Jackson, Jr. struggled with foul trouble in exhibitions but only turned 19 last month and is likely to provide rollercoaster rides as he gets acclimated. Although Gasol and Conley can still be one of the top defenders at their positions when they’re right, the Griz no longer employ the “grit and grind” style that delivered results when those two were younger and they had Zach Randolph to play through in the post and Tony Allen to lock people up on the perimeter, so we’ll see how this group adapts over the long haul should everyone stay healthy.

Indiana won’t sneak up on anyone like it did last season when Victor Oladipo emerged as one of the top guards in the East. He’s got all major contributors back around him with the exception of Lance Stephenson. Tyreke Evans should provide an upgrade on the wing after choosing the Pacers among a number of suitors, while shooter Doug McDermott and center Kyle O’Quinn add quality depth to an already deep roster. Thaddeus Young put together 16 points and 10 rebounds in 29 minutes in the preseason tune-up after sitting out most of the last few weeks with a bruised right foot. His opting in to the final year of his contract rivals Evans’ acquisition as the most important move of the offseason. Cory Joseph (Canada) and Bojan Bogdanovic (Croatia) played for national teams this summer so they should be in shape to play key roles in Nate McMillan’s rotation. According to the Indianapolis Star’s J. Michael, the Pacers shot just 32.7 from 3-point range this preseason. Indiana has gone 56-26 at home over the last two seasons and have averaged 135 points in wins over its last two home openers. Myles Turner has played major roles in both wins. He signed an extension to open the week and will play despite an ankle tweak. Indiana swept Memphis last season. The Griz were just 6-35 on the road.

Milwaukee (-2/217) at Charlotte, 7:05 p.m. ET: Former Spurs top assistants Mike Budenholzer and James Borrego debut as head coaches of their new teams. Budenholzer arrives after leaving Atlanta following a five-year run, while Borrego, who had an interim stint in the head seat with the Magic back in 2015, will be in the head seat for his first season opener. Both want to play with pace and will look to push whenever possible, placing movement without the ball and sharing it via the extra pass above all else. The Bucks averaged 124.8 points this preseason, an average aided by one overtime game but nonetheless impressive and indicative of the style Bud wants to employ. Giannis Antetokounmpo led Milwaukee in scoring in all three games he played, averaging 24 points and 11.6 rebounds. He’ll be an MVP candidate this season and has a familiar supporting cast around him, welcoming in center Brook Lopez and forward Ersan Ilyasova to spread the floor. They’ve got John Henson shooting 3s too. We’ll see how that goes.

The Hornets likely need to get off to a good start to avoid being blown up, so it will be interesting to see how they attack this season. There’s an initiative to play Kemba Walker off the ball more, allowing young shooting guards Jeremy Lamb and Malik Monk more freedom. Borrego wants the ball to stick less and is hoping to see Walker thrive without being so ball-dominant. The Charlotte Observer's Rick Bonnell reported that Borrego instituted a 12-second shot clock at practices in an effort to play faster, resulting in the team averaging 118.3 points over their last three preseason games, all wins. The Hornets and Bucks played four times last season, but all games took place by Christmas. Khris Middleton averaged 30.5 points against Charlotte as the teams split 2-2, but with Dwight Howard gone and two new coaches in place, you can’t trust much from last season.

Miami (-2.5/210.5) at Orlando, 7:05 p.m. ET: Florida’s franchises square off after dueling in the preseason nine days ago, playing a sloppy 90-89 game where both teams shot poorly, combining to shoot 30 percent from 3-point range (27-for-56) in Miami. We’ll see if the teams can find the range in Orlando as the Steve Clifford era tips off in Central Florida as the Heat and Magic open up against one another for the third straight year. The teams have split the last two meetings with the Orlando winning last October. Erik Spoelstra opens his 10th season at the helm in Miami and will be facing his sixth Magic head coach in that span, a familiar face who has coached in the Southeast Division for the past five years in Charlotte and was an assistant with Orlando from ’07-’12. Spoelstra’s Heat beat Clifford’s Hornets the first eight times the teams played and went 22-9 against them during his stint in Charlotte, which includes winning the last six.

The Heat have dangled key pieces in an effort to try and pry Jimmy Butler out of Minnesota, so there are few players on the roster who can feel safe outside of team legends Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem, each entering their final season with the franchise. Goran Dragic and Josh Richardson have each been a fixture in rumors and should make up the starting backcourt, while Orlando is expected to give D.J. Augustin first crack at point guard ahead of Jerian Grant. He and shooting guard Evan Fournier combined to shoot 3-for-18 (16.7%) in the Oct. 8 exhibition loss. Heat centers Hassan Whiteside and Bam Adebayo will look to make Orlando lottery pick Mo Bamba’s debut a forgettable one when he enters for Nikola Vucevic, who is likely to be moved by the trade deadline. The Heat and Magic split last season’s series after Orlando won three of four in 2016-17, the first season where they managed to win more than they lost against Miami since 2009. Forward James Johnson (hernia) and guard Dion Waiters (ankle) are rout, while wing Justise Winslow (hamstring) is doubtful to play. Dragic (knee) is a go.

Brooklyn at Detroit (-5/212), 7:05 p.m. ET:The Pistons couldn’t pay off opening a new downtown arena with a playoff appearance despite making an in-season trade for Blake Griffin, so Stan Van Gundy was ultimately not retained. Although Michigan head coach John Beilein was a serious candidate, reigning Coach of the Year Dwane Casey was ultimately hired and gets back Reggie Jackson to run the point. Had he not missed 37 games due to an injured ankle last season, Van Gundy may have finished better than 39-43 and wouldn’t have lost his spot. It’s easy to forget that Detroit won 14 of its first 20 last season. Van Gundy made a soft landing at ESPN, while Casey, shown the door by Toronto after failing to get past LeBron James, makes the short trip across the border.

Andre Drummond had a productive preseason but shot just 6-for-21 against Brooklyn when the teams met in Detroit on Oct. 8. Jackson played just 16 minutes and shot 2-for-7 while Griffin scored 17 points in 21 minutes as both saw their first exhibition action, so don’t glean much from that result. D’Angelo Russell did score 25 points in the 110-108 OT win that also saw Caris LeVert flirt with a triple-double. His emergence is a key x-factor for Brooklyn, who hopes he’ll take a step forward alongside Russell. With Rondae Hollis-Jefferson out indefinitely with a hip ailment and Allen Crabbe nursing an ankle injury, the play of LeVert and a heavily bearded Joe Harris will be vital. Backup point guard Shabazz Napier is also likely sidelined. Detroit is healthier, listing only starting SF Stanley Johnson (sore toe) as a question mark. He should play.

Atlanta at New York (-3.5/215), 7:35 p.m. ET: It wouldn’t be surprising to see these teams vying for the No. 1 pick come April, so it’s easy to joke that we could see some tanking early. All kidding aside, both Fizdale and Atlanta’s Lloyd Pierce would love to see their seasons get off to good starts as they begin their respective head-coaching tenures in this opener. Opportunities to win will be few and far between, so don’t expect to see the Knicks favored in too many games until Kristaps Porzingis makes his return after All-Star break, which isn’t necessarily set in stone. Tim Hardaway, Jr. will likely be tasked with being the primary scoring option until the Latvian star returns but comes into this one nursing an ankle injury. He led the team in scoring in New York’s last three preseason games from the wing, while center Enes Kanter and rookie Kevin Knox should also play major roles. Fizdale likes Emmanuel Mudiay’s length and views him as a backcourt fixture, but he will miss tonight’s game with an ankle injury. A neck issue has shooting guard Courtney Lee listed as doubtful, so Trey Burke, Frank Ntilikina and Ron Baker are likely in for extended runs. Lance Thomas will start alongside Knox and Kanter up front and is expected to serve in a glue-guy role.

The Hawks are hoping for big things out of second-year forward John Collins but aren’t going to throw him out there with an ankle that’s less than 100 percent, so he won’t play. Center Dewayne Dedmon (ankle) is also out, so look for former Phoenix lottery pick Alex Len and Miles Plumlee to play the bulk of the minutes inside. Len has extended his range out to the 3-point line and may play a larger role for Atlanta than most expect, but I’d also look for them to go small whenever possible. Rookie point guard Trae Young will get the keys from the jump and looks to get out and run alongside promising forward Taurean Prince and Collins once healthy. 41-year-old Vince Carter will start opposite Kent Bazemore on the wing.

Cleveland at Toronto (-12/214), 7:35 p.m. ET: The post-LeBron James era begins with Cleveland as a double-digit underdog, a role that it hasn’t seen much of over the past few years but could become the norm. Pride figures to go a long way for the Cavs, especially at home, but they could be in a trouble spot here given where the league’s schedule-makers have them opening up. Toronto will have no mercy, especially since it lost six of seven meetings last season, getting swept out of the Eastern Conference semifinals to close out the Casey/DeMar DeRozan era. Point guard Kyle Lowry is among those most bitter about how things ended, but the majority of last year’s team returns intact and will be coached by Nick Nurse, a top assistant who will look to put his own spin on things while preserving continuity.

Kawhi Leonard will debut for the Raptors after being acquired in a package for DeRozan and impressed in the preseason, showing no signs of the injury that caused so much disharmony in San Antonio, ultimately ending his time there. Only guard Delon Wright (thigh) is listed as questionable for a Raptors roster that ranks right up there with the Celtics as the East’s deepest. The Cavs will build around Kevin Love, who was dealing with a sore foot but will play and be the focal point on the offensive end. Larry Nance, Jr. just got extended and will help Tristan Thompson in the paint, while last year’s midseason acquisitions, guards George Hill, Jordan Clarkson and wing Rodney Hood, will all look for increased touches to find more of a comfort zone with James gone. Hood shot poorly in the preseason and is nursing an ankle tweak but should play. Same goes for Nance, while J.R. Smith is doubtful with an elbow injury. Lottery pick Collin Sexton impressed throughout camp but will be tasked with making an impact off the bench to open his career since Ty Lue has decided on Hill as the starting point.

Minnesota at San Antonio (-3/210.5), 8:35 p.m. ET: Neither Popovich nor Tom Thibodeau could’ve had much peace of mind as their head hit the pillow on Tuesday night, which is assuming they managed to sleep at all. It’s hard to imagine guys who are meticulous in their preparation and obsess over every detail can be comfortable with how their seasons are starting, but the moment of truth has arrived following tumultuous offseasons. The Spurs moved on from Leonard and long-time guards Tony Parker (departed via free agency), Manu Ginobili (retirement) and Danny Green (traded) while adding DeRozan and new starting center Jakob Poeltl. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of their roster turnover since promising point guard Dejounte Murray (ACL) and rookie wing Lonnie Walker IV (MCL) were lost for the season due to torn ligaments. Derrick White was slated to take over for Murray could potentially miss two months because of a heel injury. The cursed start will lead to shooter Bryn Forbes starting and veteran Patty Mills getting the bulk of the work off the bench for a roster whose depth used to be a major strength. Rudy Gay’s bout with a heel issue went better than White’s, so he’ll be starting next to LaMarcus Aldridge and Poeltl up front. Pau Gasol will come off the bench.

The Timberwolves will bring awkward to new levels since Jimmy Butler is expected to start next to teammates he blew up last week in an effort to get himself dealt out of town. Upset that Karl-Anthony Towns as given a lucrative extension despite flopping in the playoffs, Butler doesn’t feel owner Glen Taylor is invested in his future and will play for Thibodeau only as long as it takes to get his ticket out of town. Count on Butler giving his normal effort out on the floor, but it’s got to be concerning that there’s such little harmony among this group, potentially affecting chemistry. Butler didn’t accompany the Timberwolves to Milwaukee for their preseason finale, so it’s anyone’s guess how things will go in San Antonio, where at least Butler won’t have to hear boos like he probably would’ve in Minneapolis. It’s likely we’ll see Thibs open with the same starting five (Andrew Wiggins, Taj Gibson, Towns, Jeff Teague, Butler) that was utilized most of last season, including a Western Conference first-round series that featured the Wolves being blown out by 18 points or more in three of their contests against Houston.

Utah (-8.5/205.5) at Sacamento, 10:05 p.m. ET: The Jazz sent the Kings a message in the final preseason game for both, crushing them 132-93. They beat Adelaide of the Australian League by less (129-99) and treated Sacramento like it was Perth, which it hammered 130-72 in their first exhibition. While you might be rolling your eyes at the lack of quality competition, Utah also posted double-digit wins over Toronto and Portland in a 5-0 preseason. Yes, now you’re impressed. None of those games matter, obviously, but it is important to note that a team that has had to deal with numerous injuries to promising guard Dante Exum and top defender Thabo Sefolosha over the past few years comes into the season extremely healthy. Bigs Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors are moving great and looked to be playing with great confidence. Donovan Mitchell’s brilliant debut wasn’t a fluke. Neither was the emergence of Joe Ingles and Royce O’Neale or Ricky Rubio’s late-season improvement before he was struck down by a hamstring injury. If this early run of good health is a sign of things to come, there will be a lot of foreshadowing in these blowouts too.

The Kings played a rare preseason back-to-back to close out exhibition play and gave a better account of themselves in losing at Portland, but they’re again expected to bring up the rear in the Pacific Division. Staying out of the Western Conference cellar will hinge on De’Aaron Fox improving substantially after a shaky rookie season running the point since head coach Dave Joerger’s intention is to take the training wheels off. With center Willie Cauley-Stein in a contract year, Skal Labissiere clamoring for more playing time and rookies Marvin Bagley III and Harry Giles in the mix, the Kings will have a lot of motivated fours and fives to run the floor with. Promising scorer Bogdan Bogdanovic will miss the first few weeks due to a knee injury, which gives Buddy Hield and Justin Jackson opportunities for more minutes on the wing. Sacramento has lost seven of eight games against Utah, including the last five. The Kings have yet to beat the Jazz at the Golden1 Center have gone 1-6 against them in Sactown since 2015.

Dallas at Phoenix (-1/215), 10:35 p.m. ET, ESPN: The top two picks of the 2018 Draft square off in this nationally-televised opener that should satisfy an audience that wants to see the league’s most talented newcomers. With apologies to the rest of a nice-looking class of prospects, the Suns and Mavs look to have come away with the biggest prizes in terms of who will have the most immediate impact from the group. There are a number of other young bigs whose improvement could have them in the conversation when we’re discussing who ultimately emerged as the best 5-10 years from now, but the two picks taking center stage on the floor in Phoenix tonight are rightfully the Rookie of the Year betting favorties.

Deandre Ayton led the Suns in scoring and rebound in the first four preseason games he played, while Luka Doncic fit in seamlessly in games played in Dallas and China, running the point and looking as comfortable with the ball in his hands as he has for years precociously dominating the Euroleague. The Suns will likely try and disrupt that level of comfort by throwing Ariza at him, not to mention hoping that the first hostile atmosphere he’ll encounter as a pro can hinder him some. Doncic looks very capable of taking a lot of pressure off of Dennis Smith, Jr., allowing him to attack and better utilize his athletic gifts. DeAndre Jordan missed the China portion of the preseason due to a death in the family, but he finished with 18 points and 12 rebounds in last week’s final exhibition, so Ayton should have his hands full in his debut.

Suns guard Devin Booker is returning a bit early from hand surgery but has been cleared and practiced all last week, so there’s less concern that he’s rushing back. The elite scorer’s role is changing some this season under first-year head coach Igor Kokoskov, who is putting the ball in his hands with no true point guard on the roster. Jamal Crawford was signed to place another shooter in the mix, while DeAnthony Melton could emerge as an x-factor after being acquired alongside Ryan Anderson in a trade with Houston for Chriss and Knight that ended up being the last move Ryan McDonough made before being removed as general manager. There a re a lot of variables in this one, but the total looks to be a little low given how dangerous it would be for Rick Carlisle to employ much zone against Phoenix’s shooters. That said, the presence of Jordan and Tyson Chandler could make scoring around the rim difficult, so proceed with caution.
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