The Golden State Warriors are part of the NBA’s Opening Night slate tomorrow, hosting the Los Angeles Lakers at 7:00 PM Pacific at the Chase Center. Both teams have high expectations for this season, with aging stars trying to add another championship to their resumes. However, the Dubs look to be in far better position than the Lakers.
Golden State, of course, is the reigning NBA Champion, having defeated the Boston Celtics in last year’s NBA Finals. Led by Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, the Warriors have found budding young contributors like Jordan Poole, Jonathan Kuminga, and Moses Moody who all had fantastic performances during their postseason run.
The Lakers, on the other hand, finished last season 33-49 and fired head coach Frank Vogel. LeBron James and Anthony Davis remain the centerpiece of the team, but aging future Hall of Famer Russell Westbrook is really the only other proven player on their roster. The Lakers have accumulated a strange mix of unproven youngsters and aging veterans and hope first-year head coach Darvin Ham will find the right combination to win it all. In an excellent Western Conference, they will face an uphill battle to reach the playoffs.
But before the ring ceremony begins, we get an excellent appetizer: the Celtics vs. the Philadelphia 76ers. Both of these teams have championship aspirations in a suddenly loaded Eastern Conference.
The Celtics finished just two wins shy of a title a year ago, and have added Malcolm Brogdon to a stacked team that returns Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Robert Williams III, and Al Horford. Like the Warriors, they’ll try to shake off an unfortunate training camp storyline: the year-long suspension of head coach Ime Udoka.
And the Sixers now have a full season to see if the unique superstar tandem of Joel Embiid and James Harden can make the pieces click ... with head coach Doc Rivers likely on the hot seat if they get off to a poor start.
Two games, and four fascinating teams. It should be a stellar Opening Night in the NBA.
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Unsurprisingly, the Warriors are heavy favorites on opening night, with a -245 moneyline (all odds are via DraftKings). The Dubs are six-point favorites, and I like their chances of outperforming there, but I prefer going for low-likelihood, high-payout bets as a casual gamble. Jordan Poole at +500 to record at least 25 points and 4 assists caught my eye.
When Poole played at least 30 minutes in a game last season, he recorded 25 points and 4 assists in more than 25.6% of those games (well above the implied 16.7% odds of +500). However, Warriors coach Steve Kerr has suggested that no one on the Warriors is going to have a heavy workload.
Poole played 25-30 minutes 22 times last season, recording at least 25 points four times and 4 assists 11 times in those games, although he only reached both marks in the same game twice. However, I think Poole is going to see his assist numbers spike this season in the second unit with James Wiseman. Given the Lakers lack perimeter defenders, Poole should have an opportunity to score a lot of points.
Moreover, Poole is the youngest of the Warriors' core players and has never dealt with a serious injury. For those reasons, I expect Kerr to be more willing to push his minutes than players like Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.
If Poole gets enough minutes to score 25 points, I’d be very surprised if he falls short of four assists. Given the payout, I like the odds of Poole getting his season started with a bang.
In the earlier game, the defending Eastern Conference champions are slight favorites, with a -140 moneyline on the Celtics, compared to +120 for the Sixers. Smart is +475 to eclipse 15 points and 6 assists, which is a pretty intriguing line.