Believe it or not the NBA season is upon us with four games tonight opening the campaign. Two of the games are on TNT with the Celtics in Cleveland and the All-LA battle out west.
Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers (-4½, 185½)
Tuesday, Oct 27, 7:30 p.m. (ET) TNT
Both the Celtics and Cavs were busy during the off-season adding size, depth and experience. Shaquille O’Neal was Cleveland’s big addition while Rasheed Wallace bolted the Pistons for Beantown.
The veteran “bigs” will no doubt make a difference for their new teams, but the spotlight still shines the brightest on reigning MVP Lebron James. He drove the Cavs to the best record in the league during the regular season but their playoff run ended with a series loss to Orlando.
Boston has its Big 3 back together with a now-healthy Kevin Garnett joining Ray Allen and Paul Pierce, and the Celtics are ready to take King James and the Cavs head on. However, after both teams finished behind Orlando last season, each franchise made a series of offseason moves to bolster their chances in 2009-10.
The Cavaliers signed guards Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon while Boston picked up Marquis Daniels but the biggest moves were reserved for the two big men, O’Neal and Wallace.
Cleveland starts the season with a big headache and his name is Delonte West. He didn’t playing a lick in the preseason after being arrested for carrying three loaded guns (while riding a motorcycle). The trouble didn’t end there for West. His wife filed a domestic violence charge report over the weekend.
The Cavaliers have won 11 straight at home over Boston by an average of 12.8 points, with their last loss coming five years ago. Overall, the home team has won 16 consecutive games in the series and the favorite is 7-3 ATS in the last ten series meetings. Three of the four meetings last year played Under the total.
Cleveland is favored by 4.5 with the total at 185.5.
Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers (-10, 207)
Tuesday, Oct 27, 10:30 p.m. (ET) TNT
Even with Pau Gasol doubtful for the Lakers' season debut, they should have no trouble dispatching the Clippers tonight. Kobe Bryant and the new kid in town, Ron Artest, figure to be too much for the Clippers to handle on both sides of the ball. The Lakers have won eight consecutive games against their down-the-hall neighbors, blasting the Clippers by an average of 21.8 points.
The Lakers were 65-17 last season en route to their first title since 2002. Kobe averaged nearly 27 points per game and finally got a ring without Shaq. The Lakers advanced to the finals for the second consecutive season and beat Orlando in five games for their first championship since 2002. It was Phil Jackson’s fourth with the Lakers and record 10th overall.
If the Lakers can stay healthy they are the odds on favorites to repeat as NBA champs. However they’ve been dinged with injuries during the preseason. Gasol sat out the Lakers’ final six exhibition games because of a strained right hamstring, Lamar Odom also missed time because of a leg injury.
Andrew Bynum, who missed 32 games after tearing his MCL last season averaged 20.8 points before being injured Jan. 31. He’s been slowed by rotator cuff injury but is expected to be in the starting lineup.
Things are looking up for the Clippers who some experts have pegged for a second place finish in the West and a possible seventh or eighth seed in the playoffs. They’ve got the potential. The Clips have a solid head coach in Mike Dunleavy plus veterans like Chris Kaman, Marcus Camby and the inconsistent Baron Davis. Eric Gordon is a star in the making and Al Thornton has the potential to be a double-double machine. However the excitement of the Clippers season opener is dampened a bit with word that Blake Griffin, the first overall pick in the 2009 draft, will miss the game due to a minor knee injury.
Will this be the year that the Clippers steal some of the publicity from the Lakers in Los Angeles? That’s an easy one: NO! The Lakers have owned the Clips beating them eight straight times. Kobe and company have won seven of the eight by double-digits and they’ve covered to the tune of 6-2.
It might be a good idea to wait before taking the Lakers as a double-digit favorite. My betting memories from last season include the Lakers building big second-half leads only to have to hang on for dear life at the end. I’m going to avoid that rollercoaster ride at least for the first few games.