After a brief offseason, the NBA is up and running again. We got a two-game appetizer on Tuesday, and a feast of 12 games on Wednesday. The five-game Christmas Day card looks to be a good one. Follow along on Twitter for what we hope to be another great season — @julianedlow. Here’s what jumps out to me on DraftKings Sportsbook.
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The Pelicans started a bit slow in their opener on Wednesday, but looked sharp as the game progressed. New Orleans wound up with a very balanced 14-point victory over the Raptors, looking like they’ll be a piece of the Western Conference playoff picture this year.
Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson were a strong one-two punch, Lonzo Ball looked like his stroke was completely reformed, and Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams made a massive impact on the defensive end. JJ Redick also looked like a 6th Man candidate, hitting six triples off the bench.
Miami was a bit sluggish in its opener, losing outright to the Magic. A bit of a hangover after the long stay in the bubble was to be expected, but if New Orleans catches the Heat off guard, it has the potential to be much more dangerous than the Magic. I could see sprinkling on the Pelicans’ moneyline here, but grabbing the five points seems safe.
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I’ve had this spot circled for about a week, since these two teams played a preseason game in Boston. With starters on the floor in the first and third quarters, Brooklyn won both periods by double digits in the blowout win in Boston.
The Nets couldn’t have been more impressive on Tuesday night, throttling the Warriors right out of the gates. It was extremely encouraging to see both Kyrie Irving, and especially Kevin Durant, fully healthy and playing at their peaks. But this team is more than those two superstars — Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert can play at an All-Star level, and the team goes a full 10 deep. But most importantly, Brooklyn was locked in defensively, which is what’ll win this team so many games if it stays healthy.
I’ll admit, the Celtics showed me more than I thought they would on Wednesday against the Bucks. Jeff Teague really helps hide some of the depth issues they have with Kemba Walker out and Gordon Hayward gone, but the Nets still have better top tier talent, and significantly more depth. Even with Boston building an 18-point lead, it had closing issues, and needed a Jayson Tatum banked three to seal the deal. I like the Nets to roll here.
We know how this series ended last year — three straight Denver wins, or three straight historic Los Angeles collapses, depending on how you look at it. The Clippers have issues, but there’s also a reason they got out to a 3-1 series lead. This is the more talented team, and they’ll certainly have revenge on their minds in the Christmas nightcap.
Serge Ibaka looked like a terrific fit with the starting lineup in the opening night win over the Lakers. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George appeared locked in from the jump, and despite blowing a 21-point lead, this team closed the game for a win as underdogs.
The Nuggets are going to be a good team this year, but probably overachieved in the bubble, and are being overvalued in the early going. Denver is coming off a brutal opening night on Wednesday, losing a big lead to the Kings. While the Nuggets were able to get the game to overtime, they turned it over on the final possession in a tied game, leading to a fast break Buddy Hield tip-in for the win.
I don’t like one under particularly more than another, although I will say I think playing the Golden State team total under is appealing. I don’t know what the Curry’s Christmas Eve tradition is, but it hasn’t been kind to Steph — who’s averaging just over 12 points in his Christmas Day games. I have to at least point out that NBA unders have been cashing at a historic rate for the Christmas Day games, and the trend has only been heating up. Since 2015, unders on Christmas are hitting at 69.2%. LeBron James has stayed under in all but one Christmas Day game in his career. Consider blindly playing the board here, and generally we get out profitable.
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