Is it already time to start fading the Golden State Warriors? The champs are laying too many points to the New Orleans Pelicans to be our first NBA pick of the new season.
As a great man once said, it's a cornucopia of awesomeness. The 2015-16 NBA regular season finally gets underway this Tuesday, which means we've got all four major pro sports going at once here in the United States of Americanada. We're coming off a break-even and occasionally frustrating 2014-15 season here at the ranch, so we've tightened up our approach for the new season: more emphasis on the things that matter to our profit margin, like bench strength and defense, and only taking the very best opportunities, if any, to put the total in our NBA picks instead of the spread.
Let's get cracking with the feature attraction on Tuesday's three-game slate. No, not LeBron – we're talking about the defending champion Golden State Warriors hosting the New Orleans Pelicans (10:30 p.m. ET, TNT) in a rematch of last year's Western Conference quarterfinal. By the way, anytime I get the Hornets and Pelicans mixed up this season, I will eat a bug. We made some good money riding the Pellies ATS during that playoff series. They could be even more valuable now that the Warriors are the champs.
We're not the only ones. Because the first lines for Opening Night hit the NBA odds board on Sunday, we're able to lean a bit more on the consensus reports than usual – and the early consensus for this matchup was 100 percent on New Orleans as an 8.5-point road dog. That's dropped to 56 percent as we go to press, even as the spread has moved up to Pelicans +9.5. Here comes the betting public, right on time.
This is the primary reason we'll be fading the Warriors this week. They were a popular bet during the playoffs after going 67-15 (47-34-1 ATS) during the regular season. And after taking home the Larry O'Brien Trophy, Golden State is reportedly tied with the San Antonio Spurs for drawing the most futures money at Westgate SuperBook. Those are lofty expectations.
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And the Warriors are likely to fall short. Regression toward the mean makes cowards of us all; last year's team was the second-healthiest in the league, according to the Time Missed Impact To Team (TMITT) metric at Man Games Lost. That's probably not sustainable, and the Warriors already have head coach Steve Kerr missing the start of the season following back surgery. Luke Walton will take over for now on an interim basis.
New Orleans (45-37 SU and ATS last year) was in the bottom half of the health table in 2014-15. Things are already off to a rough start, as PG Tyreke Evans and center Omer Asik are among the many players missing Tuesday's game. But the Pellies still have that rare creature, the underrated MVP candidate in PF Anthony Davis, and they have enough talent around him (most notably PG Jrue Holiday and SG Eric Gordon) to get the job done. Fly, Pelicans, fly.
Free NBA Pick: Take the Pelicans +10 (-115) at Matchbook