Teams are not likely going to be in mid-season form after their first regular season game so there have been some surprises and there are others that have picked up from where they have left off. All in all it doesn't suddenly make good teams bad, or bad teams good, and I think at this point of the season trying to pick good spots is more important than perhaps even the difference in level between teams.
I always say the NBA doesn't really get going until after the All-Star Break which is usually just as the Super Bowl is being played and that is when the basketball season gets a clear run alongside the NHL towards the Play Offs and the eventual Finals.
The picks had a mixed start to the season in the first week but a solid Halloween meant the losses were reduced significantly. In November I am going to break down the month into weekly segments as I did last season so all of the picks from Tuesday 1st November to Sunday 6th November will be placed in this one thread.
I am looking for a better week than the last one to get this season moving in the direction I want.
Tuesday 1st November
The picks from Monday went 3-0 with Atlanta and Chicago winning by wide margins and the Denver Nuggets fighting back in the second half against the Raptors to only just fail to win the game outright.
There are plenty of games on the slate this Tuesday as a new month rolls around.
Sacramento Kings @ Miami Heat Pick: Playing on a back to back is tough, but this is even more difficult for the Sacramento Kings as they are playing for the third day in four nights on the Eastern side of the United States. That is difficult as the Kings look to bounce back from a defeat at the Atlanta Hawks on Monday and this looks a very good oppotunity for the Miami Heat to win their first home game of the new season.
This isn't the Heat of a few years ago with all of the 'Big Three' either moved on or not able to play due to health issues. Losing Dwyane Wade will have been an even more bitter moment for the fans than when LeBron James decided to go home, while Chris Bosh looks like he will be forced into retirement with the Heat not happy to play him with the blood clot issues that have come up in each of the last two seasons.
Pat Riley is now constructing a new look roster and while they have some solid pieces in the likes of Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic, Miami don't look a genuine contender to Cleveland in the Eastern Conference. Whiteside could be very important in this game as he looks for better than the cramping that affected him in the loss to the San Antonio Spurs and he will need his size to give DeMarcus Cousins all he can deal with.
Despite the record, Miami haven't played badly Defensively but instead are looking for a few more ways to score points. Dion Waiters has been attacking the rim but is looking for more contact to go to the line and I do like this spot for Miami to get rolling with some fatigue likely to be in the Sacramento legs.
The Heat have a 11-3 record against the spread when hosting Sacramento in recent seasons and I will look for them to win this by around 7-10 points to get off the mark at home.
New York Knicks @ Detroit Pistons Pick: After the way the Detroit Pistons were blown out by the Toronto Raptors in their opening game of the season it was no wonder Stan Van Gundy was spitting feathers and looking for improvement across the board. He has gotten that in the last two games, particularly on the Defensive side of the court, and the Pistons are looking for three straight home wins.
Much of that is down to holding their last two opponents to 82 points and 83 points respectively, but this might be seen as a much bigger test for Detroit after the New York Knicks moved to 1-1 behind an 111 point effort aganst the Memphis Grizzlies. There are still some teething problems for the Knicks to improve upon, but the starters have offered some encouragement with their play.
A problem has still come Defensively with New York lacking the depth behind the starting five and it has to be remembered that the Grizzlies almost recovered a huge deficit in their loss at Madison Square Garden. The Pistons might not expose some of the three point issues in this one without Reggie Jackson running the point, but they can dominate the glass with Tobias Harris and Andre Drummond and that has been a key to their successes so far this season.
Dominating the boards means having more second chance points, and also increases the pressure on the Knicks to make sure they are making the right percentage shots. Drummond's size is also huge to prevent the likes of Derrick Rose making their penetrations into the paint and can give the Knicks some real issues unless they can get the big man into early foul trouble and limit his impact on the game.
This does look a good game and it is one the Knicks have enjoyed with a 16-6 record against the spread against the Pistons. I just feel the way Detroit are playing Defensively makes the difference, especially when the bench players are in the game, and the Pistons can come away with a win by around 6-8 points and earn the cover.
Wednesday 2nd November
It looked like the Miami Heat were going to blow their lead that they took into the Fourth Quarter, but they were fortunate to get an extra five minutes in Overtime which saw them cover against the Sacramento Kings and make it 2-0 on Monday.
That keeps a solid run going over the last few days, but this is a long season and I am looking to build on that momentum on Wednesday when a number of games are scheduled to be played.
Dallas Mavericks @ Utah Jazz Pick: In an 82 game regular season, I am a little surprised that so many teams and players have spoken about 'must win' spots after one week of the regular season has been played. The Dallas Mavericks are a veteran team who have more experience than that, but they will want to move on from their 0-3 record as soon as possible.
The record is not really indicative of the way the Mavericks have played with one defeat coming in Overtime and the other by a single point. They have also played some quality opponents in their first three games having lost in Indiana and to Houston twice, but things won't be easier on Wednesday as Dallas get set to visit the Utah Jazz.
There could be a boost for the team with the return of Dirk Nowitzki who remains a key part of what the Dallas Mavericks want to do on the court. Dallas have plenty of other areas they want to improve though, especially on the Defensive side of the court where they have allowed teams a little too much room making their shots, while they will want more out of Andrew Bogut and Nowitzki to turn around the rebounding deficit they have faced.
It looks like a good position to bounce back for the Mavericks who face the Utah Jazz who are coming in off a huge upset over the San Antonio Spurs on Tuesday to move back to 2-2 on the season. Utah were one of the teams many expected to take steps forward in the coming season, but the Jazz are missing some key players due to early season injuries and need George Hill to maintain the form he has shown to open up with his new team.
Utah have relied on a strong Defensive presence to remain in games despite the injuries to strong Offensive players who are missing. One issue the Jazz have had is defending the three point line and Dallas can use that to their advantage, while this looks a bad spot for Utah against a 0-3 team having upset San Antonio and hosting the Spurs next in a couple of days time.
The Mavericks are 4-1 against the spread in their last five games at the Utah Jazz and I think they might be getting one too many points in this one. Utah haven't been favoured too often this season and failed to cover in the one game they were favoured. Backing Dallas in this spot and recent history against Utah looks the call.
Portland Trail Blazers @ Phoenix Suns Pick: The Phoenix Suns were expected to have a difficult season with an inexperienced roster and in the tough Western Conference. The 0-4 start suggests that will be the case, but the Suns don't want to accept their position and that has to be a positive for the fans who will be looking for them to earn their first win of the season when the host the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday.
The Suns have not had the easiest start to the season with three games against some of the top teams in the West, while even the game at the Sacramento Kings came against a team that is expected to progress this season. As with any inexperienced team in the NBA, Phoenix have had some inconsistent performances with two blow out losses coupled with two tight defeats and that might be a feature of their season.
Usually I would consider this a good spot for Phoenix as they face the Portland Trail Blazers who played the Golden State Warriors yesterday. However they were blown out by the end of the Third Quarter which meant the starters got plenty of rest and Damian Lillard mentioned the positives of having a chance to make amends immediately.
Portland also got to see some solid play from the bench in the Fourth Quarter which might be exciting for them going forward, but it is the fact they are desperate to bounce back which makes me think they can do that. The Suns have struggled to avoid fouls and the likes of Lillard and CJ McCollum are very confident attacking the paint and making plays at the rims.
The Trail Blazers are 5-2 against the spread in the last seven against Phoenix and I like them to bounce back from their heavy loss to the Warriors and cover on the road.
Oklahoma City Thunder @ LA Clippers Pick: The Oklahoma City Thunder are trying to show that losing Kevin Durant is not going to effect what they are able to do in the new NBA season. There was some suggestion that the Thunder would go for Blake Griffin in the next off-season but Oklahoma City look to be re-signing the likes of Steven Adams and Victor Oladipo so might not have the money to go for a big Free Agenty signing have already upped their money to Russell Westbrook.
That looks a good deal with Westbrook doing a little bit of everything to help the Thunder open 3-0 but they have yet to play any team that is expected to at least challenge for a Play Off spot. Now they have to head to the LA Clippers who also have opened the season 3-0 and remain one of the top teams in the West built around DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin and Chris Paul.
The lack of depth has hurt the Clippers in recent seasons, but they look to have brought in some solid veterans and that has seen the bench respond in the opening three wins of the season. It is that bench that is going to be important for the Clippers and their level of competition early in the season should mean they are more battle tested than the Oklahoma City Thunder.
This also looks a terrible spot for the Thunder who are playing the Golden State Warriors and the traitorous Kevin Durant next. You can't tell me that game hasn't been circled and focused on since the schedule came up and Oklahoma City are on a back to back before that one.
I just wouldn't be surprised if Westbrook leaves something in the tank for the game at The Oracle Arena on Thursday and the Clippers can extend their 4-1 record against the spread from the last five games against the Thunder. It looks the perfect time for the Clippers to host Oklahoma City who are perhaps not as good as the early record indicates and I like the home team to win by around 10-12 points.
Thursday 3rd November
It was not a good day for the picks with a 0-3 Wednesday but I can't be too disappointed with the NBA season quickly moving forward. Hopefully Thursday will get this month back into a positive position even though there are limited games on slate.
Sacramento Kings @ Orlando Magic Pick: It has been a tough road trip for the Sacramento Kings who have been beaten at the Atlanta Hawks and Miami Heat already, but they were a little unfortunate in the last game in Miami. Now they head to the Orlando Magic and I am not sure that the Magic should be considered a favourite in the game.
Orlando are still trying to find an Offensive groove with some new faces in the line up although they should match up well with the Kings and DeMarcus Cousins in particular. They have the size of Bismarck Biyombo, Nicola Vucevic and Serge Ibaka to give Cousins problems, but the Magic have struggled to defend the three point arc and that is where Sacramento could open things up.
That has seen the Magic struggle on the Defensive side of the court and they have allowed at least 101 points in every game they have played this season. It makes winning games and covering spreads difficult and the Kings have a very strong 4-1 record against the spread in recent games in Orlando.
The Kings have not been scoring points easily themselves, but I think the last two match ups were difficult for them. This one should be a little better but that will need more out of veterans Ty Lawson and Matt Barnes, but both could have more spacing for shots from beyond the arc which can be important for them. It isn't a lot of points, but I do think the Sacramento Kings can cover on Thursday.
Boston Celtics @ Cleveland Cavaliers Pick: While the Boston Celtics were battling the Chicago Bulls and winning a tough home game, the Cleveland Cavaliers had the night off. LeBron James and JR Smith were two of their players who took in Game 7 of the World Series which would have sapped some emotion from both players when you consider how that game went down, although I think facing the Celtics will inspire this entire Cavaliers squad.
There has been no love lost between these teams in recent years and the current rosters had a major falling out in the Play Offs two seasons ago when Boston were accused of deliberately injuring Kevin Love. That was part of the reason why Cleveland fell to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals as James was left as the last of the Three Muskateers and Cleveland won't need much to get up for facing the Celtics.
Playing on a back to back has not bothered Boston in recent times with a really solid record against the spread in this spot, but they are missing Al Horford and Jae Crowder which is a big problem for them. Going up against a Cleveland team who are playing really well on the Defensive side of the court without two of their better Offensive players and I think that shows up here.
The Cleveland bench is playing well enough too and they are 4-1 against the spread in their last five games against Boston at home. This does look a lot of points at first glance, but the Celtics have to be feeling the game against Chicago on Wednesday and missing Horford and Crowder is tough to overcome.
MY PICKS: 01/11 Miami Heat - 3.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
01/11 Detroit Pistons - 4 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
02/11 Dallas Mavericks + 4.5 Points @ 1.95 Coral (1 Unit)
02/11 Portland Trail Blazers - 3.5 Points @ 1.95 Coral (1 Unit)
02/11 LA Clippers - 7 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
03/11 Sacramento Kings + 1.5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
03/11 Cleveland Cavaliers - 9.5 Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
November 1-6 Update: 2-5, - 3.18 Units
October Final: 8-9, - 1.72 Units
Final Season 2016: 150-143-7, - 5.37 Units