Nets look for surging start
Brooklyn’s new duo of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett join center Brook Lopez up front, while guards Joe Johnson and Deron Williams return to the team’s back court. Pierce and Williams are listed as “probable” to play in Wednesday’s opener, recovering from toe and ankle injuries, respectively.
The Brooklyn Nets will be missing a bit of depth, with newly-acquired Andrei Kirlenko out due to back spasms. Veteran guard Jason Terry has been added to back up Johnson at shooting guard, notching 14 points in Friday’s preseason victory for his new squad over the Miami Heat.
Brooklyn cashed at 5-2 ATS in its first seven road games last year, including a 3-0 spread mark in the span’s trio of spots as a favorite. Lopez led his squad’s season in scoring with 19.4 PPG, while Williams and Johnson shot from three-point land at 38 percent clips.
Cavs bring back Brown
The Cleveland Cavaliers finished with a dismal 24-58 record in last season’s action, despite adding guard Dion Waiters as a first-round draft pick. Waiters (14.7 PPG) united with backcourt mate Kyrie Irving (22.5 PPG) for the team’s top scoring, while center Anderson Varejao returns after leading in boards (14.4 RPG).
Cavaliers forwards Tristan Thompson and Earl Clark are expected to start alongside Varejao, following their share of minutes in preseason action. Cleveland acquired big man Andrew Bynum to add more depth in the middle, but the 2012 All-Star remains “questionable” to play with a knee injury.
Cavs coach Mike Brown returned to his prior club in the offseason, following a year off after being dismissed by the Los Angeles Lakers. The Ohio native was at Cleveland’s helm for five playoff appearances, including an NBA Finals run in the 2006-07 season.
Back the UNDER on Wednesday
NBA odds first opened Brooklyn as a four-point road favorite, while first setting the ‘total’ at 196 ½. An early rush of sports picks on Cleveland and the UNDER dropped the numbers to 3 ½ and 195 ½, respectively.
I am backing the UNDER in this duel as part of Wednesday’s NBA picks, looking for both sides to start slow out of the season’s gate.
Cleveland saw the UNDER cash at 4-1 in last year’s first five home dates, held to 89 PPG. Varejao should be able to grab his share of boards to limit second-chance runs for the Nets, while the Cavaliers ranked a lowly 12th in the Eastern Conference last year for three-point shooting (34.6 percent).
Brooklyn has a lot to prove with its new lineup, but starting out on the road could find the team’s scoring at a premium. The UNDER went 6-2-1 in Brooklyn’s first nine road dates last year, with eight of the ‘totals’ set at 194 ½ or less.
The Cavs and Nets have had the UNDER collect at an 8-3 clip in the foes’ last 11 meetings hosted by Cleveland, with both sides notching a combined 191.4 PPG in the span’s most recent five battles. Look for another UNDER ticket to collect here, with the ‘total’ set a bit too high for opening action.NBA Pick: UNDER 195 ½ at Heritage Sports