The NBA season is finally officially back. The Detroit Pistons don’t tip off until Wednesday night, with the two reigning No. 1 overall picks, Detroit’s Cade Cunningham and the Orlando Magic’s Paolo Banchero facing off.
Tonight, though, we get a TNT double-header featuring the Boston Celtics taking on the Philadelphia 76ers and the Golden State Warriors facing the Los Angeles Lakers. TNT will feature games on Tuesdays during football season, and if you take a look at the Pistons schedule, there are a dearth of Thursday night games.
That is because the Pistons are still not in a place where the national broadcasters will want to feature them in prime time. Understandable. But we still want to talk basketball, so we will do a preview of the Thursday (or Tuesday) night slates throughout the season.
Celtics vs. Sixers
When: 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts
Odds: Sixers +2
Lakers vs. Warriors
When: 10 p.m. ET
Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, California
Odds: Lakers +6
The double-header to start the year is stark in its contrasts. The first game sees two Eastern Conference powerhouses going against one another as they each try to establish themselves as legitimate contenders for the title.
The Celtics have had, and will continue to have, plenty of adversity with the sudden suspension of coach Ime Udoka and also dealing with an injury to starting center Robert Williams. But the Celts still have Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, and they still have last year’s defensive player of the year Marcus Smart. Add depth like Malcolm Brogdon, Derrick White, Al Horford and Grant Williams — Boston is loaded with talent. But is it enough talent to overcome all the off-the-court drama? We shall see.
The Sixers, meanwhile, are in a rare state of harmony, months removed from finally trading away Ben Simmons and securing James Harden in return. Philly is a hot title pick and star center Joel Embiid is a hot name for MVP. Can they finally take all that promise embedded within the Process and have it actually mean something in the end? This might be their best year to find out because Harden and Embiid aren’t getting any younger.
Out west, you have what we’ll charitably say is a much less compelling matchup. The Golden State Warriors are champions, they just secured long-term deals with Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole, and they are looking to repeat.
The Lakers are just a sad damn mess. Anthony Davis seems to have lost a step, LeBron James is finally starting to appear mortal and Russell Westbrook is inexplicably still on this team. This one should be a bloodbath. For those on the East Coast, that’s probably preferable. A chance to get some early shut-eye.
DraftKings has the Sixers at +2, and I suppose that makes sense as Vegas doesn’t want to commit too hard to any two teams this early in the season, and the game is at Boston, and the hometown crowd counts for something. Still, with a new, inexperienced head coach in his first game and Philly likely wanting to make a statement out of the gate, that number seems awfully appealing to me.
I also took a peek at the DraftKings prop bets (the true home of bad gamblers), and there is nothing that jumped right out to me. I’d say the closest is Tyrese Maxey at 20+ points, 4+ rebounds, and 4+ assists, which you can currently get at +950.
The Lakers are only 6-point dogs against the Warriors, and the line for Golden State to score over 115.5 is at -120. It just feels like the beginning of a long season for the Lakers, and Golden State loves to really give it to teams on a big stage. It just feels like the perfect recipe for a blowout.
Question of the Night
There are some notoriously feisty personalities playing in these two games. Assuming it happens Tuesday night, which player would you predict gets the first technical foul of the NBA season?