Wednesday 23rd October
I was a little fortunate with my first pick of the NBA season as both Toronto and New Orleans had the chance to win the game in regulation time which would have met a non-cover for me regardless of who hit the bucket.
However both missed and I was on the right side with the Raptors who managed to win by eight points in Overtime.
Detroit Pistons @ Indiana Pacers Pick: The second pick of the NBA season is going to come from the Bankers Life Fieldhouse Arena in Indiana as I look for the home town Pacers to make a positive start to the season when they take on the Detroit Pistons. Both of these teams made the Eastern Conference PlayOffs a few months ago, but both were swept out of the First Round without being competitive and so there is work to do for both to improve.
I would still suggest the Pacers and the Pistons will both be chasing a spot in the PlayOffs again this season with a weak looking Eastern Conference certainly having some openings at the bottom of the top eight. But out of the two teams I think the Pacers have more upside and they certainly should be able to show that in the opening game of the 2019/20 season.
Victor Oladipo's injury was a major blow for the Pacers last season, but they managed themselves just well enough in the regular season to earn the Number 5 Seed. There is still some time needed before Oladipo is to return, but the business conducted by the Pacers in the off-season has been very positive and some solid veterans arrive to just take the entire roster up a notch.
Jeremy Lamb and Malcolm Brogdan are two solid looking arrivals, but the question when major changes are made is how quick the chemistry can come together. A pre-season together is one thing, but the pressure of a regular season game is very different and I think that is something that the Pacers will have to watch out for early in the season.
With that in mind it might be a surprise to read that I am siding with the home team and that is mainly down to the fact that they have dominated this series with the Detroit Pistons, are at home and the visitors are missing a key piece of their team in Blake Griffin. Even Reggie Jackson is banged up, although he should play here, but Griffin was a huge influence in helping the Pistons get back into the PlayOffs and it may be tough to replace his production for the weeks he is on the sidelines.
Detroit have made some interesting signings with Derrick Rose's latest stop being here, but I do think they are not the same team without Griffin in the line up.
The home team is 8-2 against the spread in the last ten between these teams, while the Pacers are 8-1 against the spread in the last nine that they have hosted Detroit.
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Orlando Magic Pick: The moment LeBron James decided he was going to leave the Cleveland Cavaliers for a second time and move to Los Angeles, the team left behind were scratching for a way to improve. The first time James left it took a long time to recover to the point that Cleveland did not make the PlayOffs for the four seasons LeBron was not here and only returned when he did.
It is unlikely that James will be back to save this team a second time so it is up to the Cavaliers to put the pieces together to improve, although I am not holding out a lot of hope that they will surpass the 19 wins secured in the 2018/19 season. This still looks like a selling club and even though Kevin Love starts here, I would be stunned if he is still around by the time the trade deadline comes to pass.
Kevin Love did only play 22/82 games last season so there is a hope his return to full health will help this team, but Cleveland look like they are going to be giving a lot of their younger players a chance to gain some experience and show they can be part of the long-term project here. Opening day should see the players highly motivated, but it may be difficult on the road for the Cavaliers and especially as they are going up against a PlayOff team from last season.
The Orlando Magic finally returned to the NBA post-season for the first time since 2011/12 and like that season they were beaten in five games in the First Round. However it has to be seen as a huge positive to be back in the PlayOffs and the Magic have been able to keep the roster together and add a couple of pieces that may be able to give them another push forward in a Conference that is not as loaded as the West.
Markelle Fultz is the big name that has signed for the Orlando Magic as the former Number 1 Draft Pick looks to get his professional career going. He has only managed to play 33 games in the last two years since being selected by the Philadelphia 76ers, but there have been plenty of positive noises coming from the Magic about a player who has all the talent in the world as long as he can stay healthy to show it.
With the top players from last season all back, Orlando should be able to get off to a strong start and get the better of a big looking spread. The Magic have beaten the Cavaliers three times in a row at home and two of those wins have come by double digits which would be enough to secure a cover here.
Orlando covered this line in March when these teams last met and I think they have a little more chemistry in their rotation than the Cavaliers which can see them do the same here.
Thursday 24th October
It was a mixed bag on Wednesday with the NBA Picks going 1-1, but it is too early in the season to make sweeping statements about teams.
Thursday has a good slate of games with the two Prime Time games looking very appealing to NBA fans. I only have the one pick from the three games as I look to get behind a team being opposed by the public.
Los Angeles Clippers @ Golden State Warriors Pick: Any team playing in the Western Conference is going to be able to point to spots on the schedule and look at a very difficult set of games, but the Los Angeles Clippers showed on opening night that they are ready for the challenge. The game with the Los Angeles Lakers might have been played in a shared Arena, but the Clippers will have no doubts that the Lakers are the favoured team in tinseltown and it is up to them to prove everyone wrong.
That should give the Clippers motivation in a season where they are considered the favourites to win the NBA Championship thanks to the signing of Kawhi Leonard. His partner in crime, Paul George, will be missing again, but the Clippers showed how good they can be by beating the Lakers who are considered the second favourites in pre-season.
Winning as the underdog was a huge boost for the Clippers, but the situation has turned on Thursday as they get ready to face the team that have won the Western Conference five times in a row, but who have been written off by many.
The Golden State Warriors have lost Kevin Durant in Free Agency and Klay Thompson with an injury in the 2019/20 season and that has seen many even tip them to miss the NBA PlayOffs. I have no doubt those clippings and videos have been well documented in the Warriors locker room and I am surprised people expect them to fall off a cliff with Steph Curry and Draymond Green still around.
A home opener in a brand spanking new Arena is going to be a celebration for the Warriors and I think they are going to be desperate to land a statement punch on the team many expect to take over as Western Conference Champions. This looks a good spot for the Warriors to do that because the Clippers would have put in a lot of emotion for the win over the Lakers on Tuesday and will have to find that same energy again as a favourite on the road.
I don't doubt the motivation for Los Angeles will be high to show they are ready to be the team to beat, but Golden State have spent the entire off-season hearing about how their dynasty has ended. That, coupled with the new Arena being opened in the regular season, has to be a huge motivational tool for Curry and Green and I am looking for the pair to lead a new look roster to a very strong performance.
The Clippers have a depth that has to be respected, but the spot here might not be ideal as I have mentioned and backing the home underdog looks the play. Los Angeles do have a strong road record in recent games against the Warriors, but the whole scenario has changed with the Clippers favoured and there is no doubt that is going to change the mindset here too.
I will admit this is very much a spot play as I do think the Clippers will prove to be the better of the two teams in April, but the energy invested on Tuesday and now playing a rested team looking to show the rumours of their demise have been greatly exaggerated makes the home underdog the play. The fact the money percentage are pounding the Clippers doesn't hurt either and I'll take the points here.
Friday 25th October
All credit has to be given to the Los Angeles Clippers who have quickly shown why so many have tipped them as the favourites to win the NBA Championship this season. A blow out of the Golden State Warriors in their new Arena underlines the credentials just days after beating the Los Angeles Lakers.
Portland Trail Blazers @ Sacramento Kings Pick: Both teams are coming off disappointing losses in their openers and they will meet on Friday night looking to get back up to 0.500 in what is going to be a very tight and competitive Western Conference. You can't earn any PlayOff spots in October, but poor starts can be very difficult to overcome especially in a Conference that is loaded as the West is this season.
The Portland Trail Blazers are seen as a team that could potentially slip down the Rankings this season and miss out on the post-season, but they reached the Western Conference Finals in 2018/19 and will the return of Jusuf Nurkic will give them another boost.
In the mean time Hassan Whiteside is going to fill the gap that Nurkic has left and he had a strong first outing with the Trail Blazers which has given the rest of the team some confidence. Losing a home opener before embarking on a road trip is not ideal for the Trail Blazers, but they have the confidence of a team that has reached the PlayOffs in six straight seasons.
Damian Lillard is hoping to have another strong game for the Trail Blazers after scoring 32 points in the opener, but he is going to want to see an overall improvement with the performance from the three point range. That could be a critical part of this game after the amount of three pointers the Trail Blazers allowed, but they might be catching the Sacramento Kings at a good moment.
There is much to like about the young Sacramento roster and the hope here is that their team can kick on having flirted with the PlayOffs last season. The Kings are playing under Luke Walton this season and he will want to see a big reaction to the 29 point loss to the Phoenix Suns, although the Kings might be short-handed for the first of back to back games.
Buddy Hield spoke like he would play this game barring any soreness in the day between games, but De'Aaron Fox could be doubtful. Even if both suit up I do think there is a real chance they are going to be nowhere near 100% and that could give the Trail Blazers to continue the dominance of this series.
Portland were beaten last time they played in this Arena, but they are 4-1-1 against the spread in the last six in this series. They can improve that by winning as the road favourite before moving onto Dallas on Sunday.
Monday 28th October
I didn't really have the time to research the NBA Picks this weekend and that is something that is going to happen at times during a long regular season.
It has been a positive start to the new season, but I am looking to build on that momentum in the last four days of October beginning with the selections from the Monday offerings which can be seen below.
Philadelphia 76ers @ Atlanta Hawks Pick: There is no doubting that anything less than an appearance in the NBA Finals would be seen as a disappointing season for the Philadelphia 76ers. Joel Embiid was missing over the weekend, but that didn't stop Philadelphia moving to 2-0 for the season so far, although this is going to be a significantly tougher test than beating a banged up Detroit Pistons team.
On Monday the 76ers have to visit the Atlanta Hawks who have already put two upset wins on the board. There is a real movement being put together with a young Atlanta team who were hoping to be much closer to the PlayOff picture in the Eastern Conference at the end of this season than they were last season when going through something of a transition.
The Hawks are far from a finished product, but Trae Young is a superstar in the making and the moves the front office are putting together is really transforming this team very quickly. Young has been a vital piece of the reason the Hawks have begun 2-0 having scored 38 points against the Detroit Pistons and 39 against the Orlando Magic to help knock off two teams who made the PlayOffs in the East last season.
Other players will have to step up if the Hawks are going to beat Philadelphia because the latter are further along in their evolution as a team even without the services of Embiid. The blow out win over the Boston Celtics shows what Philadelphia are all about, but they needed to dig in deep to win in Detroit and it won't be lost on the 76ers heading to Atlanta that they were beaten in the last three game of the four game series with the Hawks last season and that includes losing on both visits to the State Farm Arena.
It is far too early to make sweeping statements about the capabilities of teams over the course of the season when they have played two games in October. But I have to say I have liked the way the Hawks have gone about their Defensive play with a young roster and I feel they have enough scoring to keep this one close as the home underdog.
Both teams have some very strong trends that have to be respected and both have begun the season with plenty more positives than negatives, but Atlanta will like the match up if last season is anything to go by. There is no excuse about fatigue at this stage of the season and the Hawks are 6-1 against the spread in the last seven when hosting Philadelphia which makes them worth a back here.
Denver Nuggets @ Sacramento Kings Pick: A few days ago I mentioned the Sacramento Kings are a little banged up to open the new season and that has proven to be a hindrance to a team that was hoping to take the next step in their development this season. After coming close to the Western Conference PlayOffs last season, the Kings were hoping to kick on with a young roster, but the players are not at 100% and that has led to some heavy losses on the way to a 0-3 beginning.
They play for the third time in four nights on Monday, but the Kings did have a chance to rest some tired limbs on Sunday having seen the starters chased from the game in the blow out loss to the Utah Jazz last time out. There has been some travelling involved which is not always ideal for a time looking to find their feet and the Kings are now going to have to host one of the best teams in the Western Conference who continue to fly under the radar somewhat.
The Denver Nuggets have opened 2-0 after seeing off the Phoenix Suns in Overtime last time out, but they will be looking for a much more well rounded effort. There is a feeling that the Nuggets are still looking to get their groove going from an Offensive standing, but they might not have been able to pick a better opponent than the Kings who have allowed teams to shoot 53% from the field and 40% from the three point line in their opening defeats.
It is hard to recover from that anyway, but facing a Nuggets team who have been strong on the Defensive side of the court does not bode well for the Kings. Luke Walton will already be feeling some stress from the pressure that comes with being a Head Coach of a team looking for signs of development and this looks a difficult spot for his young team.
Denver might have struggled Offensively for the most part, but they are shooting the ball very well from the three point arc and I expect that to be a difference maker for them on the day. They have had a very successful time playing in Sacramento in recent visits and I think the overall performance will be enough for them to cover the mark in this game.
Tuesday 29th October
It was a strong Monday with two more winners added to the start of the NBA season thanks to the Atlanta Hawks and Denver Nuggets both doing just enough to cover in their games against the Philadelphia 76ers and Sacramento Kings respectively.
Both are on a back to back on Tuesday and I am going to have a play from both of their games, although this time I will be opposing one of the teams who did me a favour on Monday evening.
Atlanta Hawks @ Miami Heat Pick: After battling as hard as they did for 48 minutes, the Atlanta Hawks will be disappointed that their unbeaten start to the season came to an end with a narrow home defeat to the Philadelphia 76ers. It is not ideal for them to be playing on a back to back and a third game in four nights, but the Hawks are a young team and I think there will be plenty of energy in this game at the Miami Heat.
The Heat had a day off between this game and their first defeat of the season against the Minnesota Timberwolves, but the fans should still be pumped as they will likely be getting to see Jimmy Butler for the first time. Butler was the big off-season acquisition which has moved Miami up most lists in terms of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, but Miami have been playing very well without him from an Offensive point of view and it will be the strong Defense that the All Star offers which could be vital at this stage of the season.
Miami have averaged 120 points per game in their first three this season, but they are allowing 114 points per game at the same time. It will take time to work Butler into the team especially as it means rookie Kendrick Nunn will have his minutes eaten into and it is Nunn who has provided a huge Offensive spark for the team.
This is going to be a test for the whole Offensive output of the team when they face the Hawks who have been making it difficult for teams from the field through the opening days of the NBA season. Potential fatigue has to be in play here with a third game in four nights which may loosen them up somewhat, but I do think the Hawks have been playing well on the other side of the court which will at least make them competitive again as they have been as the underdog throughout the 2019/20 season so far.
The team who can impose themselves best from the three point arc is going to be in with every chance of winning this game outright. Both teams have defended that point of attack very well well so far and I do think the Hawks can keep this one close even on a back to back.
Atlanta are 4-1 against the spread in their last five games when playing on a back to back, while they are 10-2 against the spread in their last twelve as the road team. The Heat do have some favourable recent trends too which have to be respected, but the Hawks are 4-0 against the spread in the last four in this series.
In fact the underdog has really thrived with a 16-5-2 record against the spread in the last twenty-three between Miami and Atlanta and I think the points can be taken in this one.
Dallas Mavericks @ Denver Nuggets Pick: It was more strong Defensive play which helped the Denver Nuggets move to 3-0 for the season and remain one of just four NBA teams who have yet to taste defeat in 2019/20. They rallied to overcome the Sacramento Kings by seven points on Monday and only one team has scored more than 100 points against the Nuggets and even that team needed Overtime to do so.
If you are a Nuggets fan you have to be positive with the way things have started for a team that almost finished with the Number 1 Seed in the Western Conference last season. The development will come for a team who have now experienced PlayOff Basketball and Denver are almost certainly one of the favourites to be playing in the post-season again at the end of the regular season.
In saying all that, the players themselves know they have to be better Offensively if they are going to challenge in a loaded Conference filled with superstars and strong teams. Nikola Jokic is the standout for Denver, but he struggled with his shot on Monday and the team in general are shooting just 39% from the field.
There should be more room against the talented Dallas Mavericks even though this is a team who are still very young and looking to develop over the course of the season. So far the Mavericks have had wins over a couple of teams that are expected to struggle this season while losing to the Portland Trail Blazers who are a regular name in the Western Conference PlayOffs.
Dallas are allowing teams to shoot at 45% from the field, but in Kristaps Porzingis and Luke Doncic they do have two very young and talented players who can cause problems for teams from an Offensive standpoint. I expect these two players to be influential in giving Dallas the platform to at least make this a very competitive game and I think that is what we are going to get on Tuesday.
I can't ignore the fact that Denver have played well in the second of a back to back with their 5-1 record against the spread in the last six in that position. However Dallas have been really good on the road when facing the better teams in the NBA as they are perhaps a little underrated at the moment and they are also 5-2 against the spread in the last seven against the Denver Nuggets.
The Nuggets have been winning plenty of games against Dallas at home where they are a dominant team, but the margins of the last four wins have been 3, 2, 8 and 1 point differences. With the points we are being given here, I like the Mavericks on the road.
Wednesday 30th October
There is no doubt the injury suffered by Trae Young had a big impact in the way the Atlanta Hawks game at the Miami Heat developed and you can only hope one of the more talented youngsters in the NBA is not set for a long spell on the sidelines. We should find out about that in the coming days, but it didn't look good and you never want to see the League missing its best players for any length of time.
The Dallas Mavericks ensured it was not going to be a losing day though as they rallied for the upset at the Denver Nuggets and I am looking to wrap up October with a couple more winners in the last two days of the month which can ensure a strong start to the 2019/20 season.
New York Knicks @ Orlando Magic Pick: After missing out on the likes of Zion Williamson (lottery did not go their way) and Free Agents Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, the New York Knicks decided to blend veterans on short contracts with some developing young players. Seeing the likes of Irving and Durant rock up across the road with the Brooklyn Nets would have really stung a franchise that is no longer the sparkle in the NBA that it once was and it does mean the rebuild has slowed down significantly compared to where owner James Dolan and a long-suffering fanbase would have been hoping it would be in the 2019/20 season.
The Knicks are at least off the mark having dropped their opening three games before holding off the Chicago Bulls as the home underdog last time out. Only the defeat to the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden has been very uncompetitive and that should give the Knicks some belief, although there are going to be inconsistencies in a long season with so many younger players being given the chance to impress.
One that has little doubt of doing that is RJ Barrett who was the 3rd Overall Pick in the NBA Draft- once the disappointment of missing Williamson subsided, the Knicks fans know they have a real player on their hands here and Barrett is averaging over 20 points per game in his first year in the NBA.
New York are going to need everyone to rally to the pump to challenge the Orlando Magic despite one of the PlayOff teams from last season opening up at 1-2 in this campaign. The Magic have suffered disappointing back to back losses to fall below 0.500 and they have to be a little concerned with some of the Offensive output being produced, although I do think they are facing the right team to get things turned around too.
Even then this feels like a big spread and one that the underdog can get within following a morale boosting victory last time out. The Knicks are shooting the ball well enough to challenge Orlando and have the size to beat them out on the boards too which could be key and I do think it is hard to trust a team to cover a spread like this one off back to back losses.
Backing up wins is the next step in the development of the New York Knicks and that is a nagging doubt in the back of the mind. However, it is easy to believe the Magic could still overlook New York when you think that the Milwaukee Bucks are the next team on their schedule. Even off two losses, Orlando fans and players will know they can make a big statement by taking on and beating one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference and I do think that may play a part and allow the Knicks to play this one close.
Indiana Pacers @ Brooklyn Nets Pick: There are some major things expected of the Indiana Pacers and Brooklyn Nets in the 2019/20 NBA season, but it has been a difficult start for both teams. Even though Kevin Durant was ruled out for the upcoming campaign, the Nets signed both him and Kyrie Irving to give their team the superstars to take the step to the next level in the NBA, but so far it has been a mixed opening.
Kyrie Irving is playing his part as he averages over 37 points per game, but there have long been questions about his leadership and mentality and more of those have arisen in the last few days. For some reason Irving can become very introverted despite being considered a leader and that has seen previous teams become a little tired of his antics which then festers in the locker room.
Some reports have even suggested the Nets are somewhat worried by what they have seen just three games into the season with the team at 1-2 thanks to an Overtime loss to the Memphis Grizzlies. That is the second Overtime loss they have suffered already this season and the players around Irving are still becoming used to playing with a new face having had some good chemistry last season.
There will be some worries in Brooklyn, but they are facing an Indiana Pacers team who have surprisingly lost all three games played including twice to the Detroit Pistons. With some new faces around while waiting for the return of Victor Oladipo, there was some concern that the Pacers might struggle out of the gate, but losing those games to the Pistons and also to the Cleveland Cavaliers is not a good look.
Of course things can turn very quickly in the NBA when a team can suddenly become very hot from the field, but the Pacers have struggled mightily with their Defensive schemes that is allowing teams to hit almost 50% of their shots from the field. There is an eye-watering 44% of shots landing from the three point arc and I really do think Brooklyn are going to expose some of those issues in this game.
The Pacers do have a good recent record in Brooklyn, but this Nets team is a little different than the ones they have faced. Indiana have struggled for covers on the road which is a real concern and Brooklyn should be well rested having had a couple of days between this game and the last one played.
While Brooklyn have some poor numbers against the spread as a team that tends to be a touch over-rated by the public, they are 15-6 against the spread when given two days rest between games and I like them to win and cover here.
23/10 Indiana Pacers - 7.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
23/10 Orlando Magic - 8 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
24/10 Golden State Warriors + 2.5 Points @ 1.83 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
25/10 Portland Trail Blazers - 2.5 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
28/10 Atlanta Hawks + 4.5 Points @ 1.86 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
28/10 Denver Nuggets - 5.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
29/10 Atlanta Hawks + 8 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
29/10 Dallas Mavericks + 6 Points @ 1.91 Sky Bet (1 Unit)
30/10 New York Knicks + 9 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
30/10 Brooklyn Nets - 3.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)