Ball Night!! The NBA starts off with a fantastic double-header on TNT. Can the Celtics avenge last year's playoff loss, or will Cleveland (and their fans) enjoy sending Kyrie back to Boston with an L??
We sit on the precipice of a new NBA season, and the Association is certainly eager to welcome us back into the tent. The season commences with a double-header pitting MOST experts projected Final Four from next May (though some reasonable folks have the Thunder ahead of the Rockets). It’s early in the season, and with 82 games, obviously very little hinges on tomorrow’s result, but it is hard not to imagine all four teams eager to hit the hardwood to make a strong opening statement.
And for Cleveland, there has to be a little extra incentive. The three-time reigning Conference Champions and 2015 NBA Champions will be pleased to let Kyrie know what a poor decision he made in working his way out of Cleveland to eventually land in Boston. And the fans will be more than eager to LOSE THEIR MINDS booing him after his ‘less-than-gracious’ remarks and subtle shade directed not just at the team, but the entire city. It will be bananas tomorrow night at the Q!!
Today’s NBA Pick:
Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers -3.5
I know there are some lingering questions around LeBron’s health, but all indications as of Monday are that he is playing, and it is really difficult envisioning him missing the home opener, especially with disgruntled little brother Kyrie coming back to town.
Lost in all the hoopla around the Celtics off season moves is the fact that while this team APPEARS to have improved on paper, they return the fewest roster members from a conference #1 seed in more than 40 years. It is rare to see a #1 seed roster turnover this rapidly, and there are some legitimate question marks regarding the defensive downgrade that Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving represent from Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder. Just adding a few stat guys doesn’t automatically equal wins. I don’t think things will be as easy out of the shoot for Boston as more people are expecting.
Much of their season’s success will hinge on the growth of Marcus Smart (statistically, the WORST three point shooter in the entire NBA in 2016-2017) and Jaylen Brown. This team has talent, no doubt, but elite Top Five talent? I’m not sure Hayward or even Kyrie have that ceiling.
The thing we DO know is that Cleveland is the standard bearer in the Eastern Conference. And they are at home. And they have a little extra emotional zip to stick it to Kyrie Tuesday night. It seems unlikely they don’t capitalize on that emotion.
I’ll take the Cavs to win and cover in their home opener. I know LeBron has had some home opener disappointments in the past (Bulls, D-Rose) but not tonight. This Celtics team is still getting to know one another. I don’t think they’ll be quite ready to go win in The Q.
Today’s NBA Pick: CLEVELAND CAVALIERS -3.5
** Keep an eye on things tomorrow – both Love and LeBron are listed as “day-to-day” but I’m going to wager they both play, and take advantage of the extra point or two their uncertainty adds to the line.