We notched our first NBA winner of the young season last night, though I take little joy in fading the Celtics at home less than 24-hours after the devastating loss of Gordon Hayward. The combo of the emotional drain, plus the early toll of a back-to-back, especially one that also involved travel, was just too much to overcome. Oh yeah, and Giannis too. Wow.
The Greek Freak added his name to the overly early MVP pool with a season-opening masterpiece, the first of what is likely to be many in an ascension year into true superstardom. I still question if the Bucks have enough offense around him to keep the burden light enough to win a playoff series, but there is no question he could have a Harden/Westbrook level workload this season – and the accompanying stats.
Elsewhere, Hassan Whiteside went for 26 points and 22 boards… and the Heat STILL lost their opener to rival Orlando. The Blazers beat the Suns 124-76 in Phoenix (not the home opener they were looking for…) and the Spurs and Wizards put down challenges from respective new kids on the block Minnesota and Philadelphia – though both young up-and-coming squads competed.
It’s a lighter slate of action tonight, but personally, I can wait to see the renewed competitiveness and energy in the battle for Los Angeles tonight on ESPN…
Today’s NBA Pick:
Los Angeles Clippers -6 at Los Angeles Lakers (Total: 217)
I am pretty on the record across the many platforms I occasionally write for with my dislike for the 2017-2018 Clippers and my willingness to fade them. Both from a will they miss the playoffs (+150) standpoint, as well as their season total UNDER. I think this team’s backcourt is a mess – they are going to start Austin Rivers – and their last remaining star (sorry, DeAndre Jordan is good, but not a franchise cornerstone star) Blake Griffin, hasn’t played 80 games in a season since 2013-2014. This thing has real potential to detonate in Los Angeles, though the addition of Patrick Beverly isn’t a bad stop gap.
The stats on HOW VITALLY the Clippers required Chris Paul to function are plentiful and common knowledge. It remains to be seen how well they can function now without him on a permanent basis. I’m willing to wager, “not so well.”
Meanwhile, I think the Lakers are one of the more intriguing teams in the NBA this season. They are young. They haven’t made the playoffs in four years, and no one has them in the legitimate mix this season either. But I’m not so sure they can’t creep into the mid-high 30’s in wins and be more relevant than anyone expects. The quiet additions of Brook Lopez and Kentavius Caldwell-Pope give them two of the better two-way players at their respective positions. Brandon Ingram gives them an emerging big time scorer in the Kevin Durant mold. And they have some guys who look like decent hidden gems in Kyle Kuzma and Tyler Innis.
Their bench is led by Jordan Clarkson with some help from Luol Deng and Larry Nance, Jr. It won’t be a terrible second unit.
But the key is Lonzo. Much is expected, but for good reason. This guy is the real deal. He will make everyone better, and he has better talent around him than people realize with their two main additions.
I like the Lakers to show well in the opener. I think the semi-optimism around the Clippers reshuffle is too high. Give me the Lakers getting a nice pile of points at home
Today’s NBA Pick: LOS ANGELES LAKERS +6