It’s Opening Night in the NBA and the league is definitely catering to us fans by delivering some pretty fantastic games to get the festivities started. The night will open with The King getting crowned (or “ringed” more specifically) in what is sure to be a feverish ceremony in Cleveland. Can you imagine the hype in that city tonight?? The Cavs getting rings while the Indians open the World Series across the street. It’s an embarrassment of riches for the long-suffering city of Cleveland.
Meanwhile, Utah heads to Portland looking to snap the longest home opening game winning streak in the HISTORY of the NBA. As odd as it may seem, the Blazers have won 15 straight home openers, besting a streak by the 80’s Celtics for the longest in league history. Trends notwithstanding, it should be a nice opening glimpse of a pair of teams who has aspirations of winning a playoff series in 2017.
And finally, it may only be Game One of Eighty-Two, but is any NBA fan NOT staying up late tonight to see KD’s debut with the Warriors? Even better, it is against what should be their foremost competition this season in San Antonio with the newly acquired Pau Gasol to run alongside Alderidge and Kawhi. The Warriors are 9.5 point favorites at home in what many experts have said with be the first of 82 consecutive games in which they are favored – an obvious NBA first. I STILL think the Cavs might wind up favored at home or that some injury bug or something will see them underdogs on a back to back on the road at some point, but it will be an interesting trend to monitor. A resounding win over the Spurs tonight will do nothing to diminish the hysteria…
Let’s tip it off on another great season!
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Today’s Free Pick:
Utah Jazz at Portland Trailblazers -5.5 (Total: 193)
It is an interesting contrast tonight; the high-octane offense and tempo of the Blazers versus the stifling defense of the Utah Jazz. The Jazz will look different tonight from last season as they made three key veteran additions in free agency in point guard George Hill, veteran pick and pop big Boris Diaw and aging scorer Joe Johnson. I like the first two moves a little more than the third, but I can see why a team that struggled for buckets would go sign a guy who can get them in abundance. The problem is defensively, Johnson just isn’t a fit. It will be interesting to see how many minutes he is getting by February…
For the here and now, the Jazz will be without Hayward and Burcs tonight, limiting their backcourt depth and taking away their best scoring option. I think the absence will hurt them. Add in the likely absence of Derrick Favors and this is a team missing two of its best players and playing with some limited depth. Portland is already a tough place to play, and history tells us, it is a tough place to open the season. This young team exceeded expectations last year, winning a playoff series (albeit against a battered Clippers team missing their two best players) and are looking to build on that success in 2016-2017. Damian Lillard is a legit fringe MVP Candidate and will be expected to carry a ton of the burden. I think he is up for it and could emerge as a top three point guard in the league this season.
I think the Blazers get the opening night win and should win by double digits. Look for them to be deeper and to score far more easily than their opponents who will have to work to find consistent offense without Favors and Hayward.
I’ll take the Blazers at home for the opening night cover and win.