Picking winners in the NBA is hard enough; the exhibition season, with each team chasing its own agenda, presents added uncertainties.
But we like a challenge, so here's our take on some of Monday's Association action. Readers, however, should be wary, as always, of betting the NBA during the preseason. So take these NBA picks for what you think they're worth.
Nets -2.5 at 76ers (7 pm ET)
Will Philly be the worst team in the league this season? Maybe not, but there's a chance, considering the Sixers took a big step back last season, traded one of their best players (for a kid who might not play until January) and made another change in head coaches.
Brooklyn, meanwhile, is in the market for a division championship, after coming up five games short last year. With that in mind the Nets brought in some veteran talent, including Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, to get them past the first round of the playoffs.
But this is the exhibition season, and these two teams meet Monday with very different agendas. For Brooklyn, it's a matter of getting people in shape, keep the vets rested and giving others some court time, in preparation for a run at a conference title. For Philly, it's about trying to put a team together and fostering a positive environment.
In actuality, the Nets probably don't care too much about winning Monday night. Their focus might be on the start of the regular season in two weeks. But the Sixers and new HC Brett Brown, a former San Antonio assistant, might be motivated to perform well, to set a tone heading into the regular season.
So we'll go with the home dog and take Philly at the +2.5 points offered at Heritage Sportsbook.
Nuggets -3.5 vs. Spurs (9:05 pm ET)
The San Antonio Spurs approach the exhibition as it should, keeping an eye on the health of its big three, and filling the holes elsewhere in the rotation. But mainly, the Spurs just want to get through the next couple of weeks physically unscathed. Sunday at home against Phoenix San Antonio allowed Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili to play 22 minutes and Tony Parker just 17; the Spurs lost to a Suns team that might finish in last place in the Western Conference this year.
Denver, meanwhile, after winning 57 games last year, lost its head coach, George Karl, and maybe its best player, Andre Iguodala. First-time HC Brian Shaw is now in charge, but the Nuggets will continue to push the ball, like they did under Uncle George, with the capable Ty Lawson running the show.
These two teams split their four games last season.
This is another example of a game that matches two teams who might have different agendas, as far as “winning” during the exhibition season goes. The Spurs are always in it for the long run; this game is almost totally meaningless to them. Denver, on the other hand, with work to do under its new head coach, might have something else in mind. So we'll go with the Nuggets at the -3.5 points offered at Heritage.