The NBA scheduling gods have blessed us fans with what we all wanted to see opening night, as the front-runners in the East collide when Kyrie Irving & the Boston Celtics pay visit to LeBron James & the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The 2017 NBA offseason was full of storylines, but none was bigger than the move that sent Kyrie Irving to Boston in exchange for Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder. NBA fans will not have to wait very long to see which team got the better end of the deal, as Kyrie & LeBron are set to collide in the first game of the season.
Celtics vs. Cavaliers
Line: Cavs -3
Many will tell you that it is common practice for online sportsbooks to give the home team a three-point edge. Stats whiz Jeff Sagarin and his advanced metrics claim that the NBA average home court advantage is closer to 2.33 points per game (compared to the 2.5 home advantage found in the NFL). With while both are close, they are the result of averages, and it is worth noting that the Cavaliers homecourt advantage has historically been closer to 3.49 points per game.
Either way you cut it, the NBA odds are telling us that these teams are pretty evenly matched.
They Don't Call This The Show For Nothing
Let's get the formalities out of the way here. Yes, the big storyline will involve Kyrie Irving and LeBron James meeting face to face for the first time since Irving pushed to escape from the King's shadow and pursue leading his own team. And while there are also hard feelings between the ex-Celtic Isaiah Thomas and his former employers, Thomas is sidelined with a serious hip injury, and that drama will take a backseat to the narrative that will ultimately play out on the court.
So Which Stats Can We Rely On?
Brad Stevens has stacked the deck in his favor. Proving that NBA is a business, and tossing loyalty out the window, the Celtics completely rebuilt this team with the sole intention of competing for a title now. Along with Kyrie Irving , the team won the Gordon Hayward sweepstakes, snagged Al Horford and backed them all up with a solid cast of rotational players in Marcus Smart, Marcus Morris, Aron Baynes and Terry Rozier. Rookies Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum also have high upsides, and only add the depth that this team will carry on its roster.
To make a long story short, we can't really rely on the stats from last year's team simply because the jerseys are about the only thing that remain unchanged.
On the opposite side of the ball, the Cleveland Cavaliers have made their own share of changes to the roster after losing Kyrie. While some of the supporting cast remains unchanged, it will be interesting to see how LeBron performs with longtime teammate and friend Dwyane Wade on the court.
Let's be honest here. Any team with LeBron on the roster becomes an instant contender, but while LeBron and Wade are sure to have instant (rekindled) chemistry, it will be interesting to see how the rest of the team falls in around the new one-two tandem on the court.
As argued in a recent article I posted on the Cleveland Cavaliers season win totals, this is a team that has made improvements, but many of these moves might take time to mesh. Not to mention that the team playing the first half of the season will ultimately change the moment Isaiah Thomas returns to the court later this winter.
In The Land of the Blind...
These teams have a long way to go before they ultimately meet in the Eastern Conference Finals later this season, and while it is safe to say that both rosters are stacked with talent, the key components will take some time to fall into place.
While Brad Stevens clearly has the coaching edge over Lue, the Celtics are young and not in the position to upset the King on his home court after he has been insulted by his ex-teammate who now happens to be the face of your franchise.
Wade is not his former self, but expect flashes of the Miami Heat chemistry to show and ultimately give the Cavaliers an easy cover on opening night.
Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers -3
Also look at LeBron's Total Point Props. The Over is worth a look.
And what the hell... Let's toss out some fantasy props. Share your own in the Comment Section
Times LeBron to Refer to Kyrie as 'Kid' in Post Game Press Conference
Over 4.5 -170
Under 4.5 +150
Kyrie & LeBron to Shake Hande Before Game
"Flat Earth" to Be Mentioned in Broadcast
Time it Takes for LeBron to Post on Social Media After Game
Over 15 min. -110
Under 15 min. -110
Isaiah Thomas to Hug Brad Stevens on Camera
Times Isaiah is Shown on Camera During Game
Over 5 -110
Under 5 -110
Usher in Attendance?