The 2019-20 NBA season got off to a fantastic start on Wednesday with a couple of great games. The action continues on Thursday with a massive 11 game slate, headlined by a few blockbuster clashes in both the East and West Conference!
We have a full preview and betting tips for the key games on the slate below.
The Celtics will begin life without Kyrie Irving on Thursday as they face the 76ers on the road from 10.30am. Boston will also be without star forward Al Horford, who relocated to Philadelphia in the off-season. The Celtics did, however, secure the services of all-star point guard Kemba Walker, who averaged 25.6 points per game for the Hornets last season.
The 76ers were heartbreakingly bounced from the playoffs by the eventual champions, the Toronto Raptors, last season. They’ll be back with a vengeance in 2019-20 and have a new look starting unit after waving goodbye to starters Jimmy Butler and J.J Reddick. They replaced the two with Josh Richardson from the Miami Heat and Al Horford from the Celtics. With Richardson the smallest starter at 6’6, the 76ers have the tallest starting unit in the league.
The 76ers start as 5.5 point favourites at home, which we think is a little high given the new look line-up they will be trotting out for their first competitive fixture. They could also be without starting point guard Ben Simmons, who is battling a back injury. Love the look of the Celts with the headstart here.
Interesting clash here between two sides that were extremely busy in the off-season. The Thunder cleaned house over the summer, moving star duo Russel Westbrook and Paul George to the Rockets and Clippers respectively for a haul of picks and players. Veteran point guard Chris Paul will return to OKC after playing a full season there while New Orleans recovered from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
The Utah Jazz also made some intriguing moves in the off-season, trading for Memphis Grizzlies starting point guard Mike Conley and adding Emanuel Mudiay, Jeff Green and Bojan Bogdanovic through free agency. Conley will combine with Donovan Mitchell to make up a lethal backcourt while big man Rudy Gobert will continue to be the defensive anchor of the team.
Both teams will be feeling out new starting line-ups here and the Jazz should continue to be a strong defensive team this season. We think the total point line of 223.0 seems a little high in game one of the season.
The game of the day sees the Portland Trail Blazers squaring off against the Denver Nuggets from 1.10pm. Both the Blazers and the Nuggets won playoffs series in a tough Western Conference last season and will be looking to go one better this year. The Nuggets will bring back the same core and bank on natural progression from young stars in Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray to push them over the barrier in the West.
Portland lost a bunch of role players that were pivotal to their success over the past five years in the likes of Evan Turner and Maurice Harkless and starting centre Jusuf Nurkic will likely be sidelined for the majority of the year after suffering a broken leg late last season. Most importantly, however, the Blazers held onto star backcourt Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, who they will build around and most likely keep them competitive in the West.
Really tough game to call here between two sides that will be looking to finish high in the Western Conference standings. The continuity that the Nuggets have should help them to be successful early in the season when so many teams have new look line-ups. On the road, we like them as underdogs.