The new season officially kicks off tonight with the Boston Celtics vs the Philadelphia 76’ers. For those people who don’t liek, or even get the NBA, the season is crazy in its length and puts some demands on these top, top athletes. Yes, you have to be tall to make it as a basketball player but there is no doubt in my mind when watching these guys go to work – that they are incomparable in athletic terms to most sports players. Now for the season preview, I must add the caveat I don’t like the pre-season bets too much on the outrights and the odds do not tend to differ in what can be a very gruelling schedule (82 designated games) and the big players are just asking to get injured. So let’s say you lump on a lot of money with the Lakers to win and Lebron is out for the season with 9 games left the odds on the Lakers obviously disappear into thin air, while if they had kept him fit the likelihood of them going into the post season with exactly the same odds as at the start is not a big surprise.
I analysed this with Golden State Warriors, who for me, were the outstanding team of the last 2 years and backable from the very start as they have a deep bench. However, due to Curry injuries and a drop off form, Houston beat them in the regular season to a better record and, almost, and we repeat almost, beat them in the State Championship Finals. The difference between Odds were (1.80) at the start and they only drifted as far as (2.30) even when one win for elimination. Anyway, here is my preview for the season – I won’t run through every team as some just aren’t worth any attention.
Tip #1 – NBA Champions – Back Golden State Warriors (1.67 on Betfair Exchange)
I have backed the GSW team for the last two seasons for considerable profit, the reasons why won’t be a secret. They have the most deadly starting 5 we have ever seen in my opinion in the modern NBA. Now that most big men can shoot the 3 ball, we are left in a situation where the GSW can leave pretty much no Centre on the court and the starting 5 of Curry, Thompson, Durant, Green, plus another likely to be Looney in the regular season. Even if DeMarcus Cousins doesn’t make it back in time from his bad achilles injury I think this team is way too good and established for anyone to challenge. If “Boogie Cousins” is back from the play offs it is a big they didn’t have before and makes them even better.
Tip #2 Eastern Conference Champions – Back Boston Celtics (1.91)
Again, this is favourite backing. I also fancy Celtics as outside shots for the Title – if, and it’s a big if – they stay healthy (8.4 on Exchange). This team has the youngest talent in the NBA and can explode if they get Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward back from the serious injuries suffered last season. Kyrie is the biggest worry having multiple knee injuries and being such an explosive player that he is. Let’s face it, it wasn’t long ago where he and not Lebron carried the Cavs to that title win over GSW with some clutch shooting.
They did finish second to the Raptors in the Conference last regular season, but look at what they did to the 76’ers in the Playoffs, a 4-1 demolition and should have by all accounts beaten the Cavs if Lebron wasn’t a freak of nature. Now they have the top players returning plus putting all of last year’s experience on some stand out young talent. I mean the starting 5 is Kyrie irving, Jaylon Brown, Gordon Hayward, Jason Tatum. For me, Brown and Tatum were the finds of last year and put up some serious numbers, but it wasn’t just that which impressed me. They put the shift in defensively and have, in my opinion, the best young coach in the NBA with Brad Stevens. Then we look at the bench Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Marcus Morris. Arguably a stronger bench than GSW and this is why I see them dominating the somewhat lacklustre competition in the East. Although we know 76’ers are putting up a good young team unit (too raw) and Raptors have the former MVP Kawhi (but had to give out their best player to get him in Derozan). For me, they aren’t being pushed on this one.
Tip #3 Lay Toronto Raptors (Lay as Eastern Conference Winners @4.5)
The Eastern conference is getting better, but in terms of East vs West, it is still the West coming on top despite the movement of Kawhi Leonard. Kawhi, arguably for a time was the best two way player in the NBA (in defence and offence) and it became a nightmare for players to go up against him. However, he has lost a lot of time with all the protracted injuries surrounding his tendonitis issues. Regardless of how well he managed them, he is a few years older and I have no doubt he will back at all star calibre for the Raptors. However, I see 76’ers, Bucks and even Pacers with as good a shot as them for competing in the East this season. What happens if Kawhi gets injured again, they are quite simply done.
Then look at the surrounding units, the reason they got rid of DeRozan was that he couldn’t get the job done in the Playoffs, however Lowry has also gone missing around that time and the other players in the starting 5 Danny Green, Ibaka and Valunciunas. It just isn’t going to get them anywhere as Ibaka was awful last year, Green is a past it veteran and Valunciunas still can’t make it more than 30 minutes with his conditioning. On the bench, other than CJ Miles they have no real options. We shouldn’t be scared they will go far in the Conference.
Tip #4 Lay LA Lakers (Lay as NBA champs @23)
I really don’t feel the Lakers will be up to much this season, yes Lebron has gone there, father time will catch up with him a little more this year and he has to carry a young and inexperienced team on his back. At least these guys will be hungrier than the Cavs, but I can’t even fathom why they are so short even to this price. They will after all be starting Javale McGee. The one thing they have going for them is some decent bench units, Rando, Stephenson – but let’s face it they have seen better days and LeBron will be expected to carry them even more than he did on the Cavs.