The NBA marquee night has arrived again, with TNT heading into week 2, and hopefully featuring 100% less bizarre pseudo-documentaries about Draymond Green punching a teammate. The Sixers and Lakers are once again in action, which is kind of a bummer based on their first respective games of the season.
The Sixers will be facing off against the Milwaukee Bucks who enter the season as the odds-on favorites to represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. Philadelphia has been the buzziest challenger to their crown with people buying into just how much damage a healthy Joel Embiid, a committed James Harden, the ascension of Tyrese Maxey and a fortified roster that is deeper and more skilled on both ends.
That is predicated, of course, on Joel Embiid remaining healthy, James Harden being committed, and Tyrese Maxey not taking a step back. Because if all of the former are not true then the deeper roster doesn’t really matter much.
The Bucks are still missing All-Star forward Khris Middleton, with Joe Ingles and Pat Connaughton also banged up. That means Giannis Antetokounmpo will need to deliver a prime-time performance, but I’ve learned to never doubt what Giannis can do.
The nightcap is another sad Lakers affair. The Clippers are healthy, deep, have tons of shooting and could finally make a serious play for the finals out west. The Lakers are the sad Lakers, and talking about them makes me sad. So I won’t.
Bucks vs. Sixers
When: 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Odds: Bucks +4
Lakers vs. Clippers
When: 10 p.m. ET
Where: Crypto.com Arena, Los Angeles, California
Odds: Lakers +5.5
Milwaukee Bucks (0-0)
Jrue Holiday, Grayson Allen, Wesley Matthews, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Brook Lopez
Philadelphia 76ers (0-1)
Tyrese Maxey, James Harden, Tobias Harris, PJ Tucker, Joel Embiid
Los Angles Clippers (0-0)
Reggie Jackson, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, Marcus Morris, Ivica Zubac
Los Angeles Lakers (0-1)
Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverly, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Damian Jones
As long as the NBA powers that be are going to force me to watch the Los Angeles Lakers, I will be betting against the Lakers point spread. In this case, the Lakers being just 5.5-point underdogs seems way too low. I know they will win games, and LeBron can will them to a close game, but I don’t think it’s happening more times than not.
The Sixers did not fill me with tremendous confidence in their first game because, I think, I’m late to realize just what the current version of James Harden can do. More importantly, I need to come to terms with what he can’t do. I’ve heard it plenty and I’ve said it aloud, but Harden just isn’t that guy anymore. And based on the way he plays the game, it might be hard to build a winning attack around his style when he’s not as efficient and effective as he used to be. At least against alpha teams like the Bucks. I’m sure Harden and co. will destroy the league’s lesser teams, including the Pistons, but tonight, I don’t see why Milwaukee is sitting at +4.
Question of the Night
I’m rooting for an insane night for Luke Kennard. What will his stat line be at the end of the night (though I’ll be asleep and checking it in the morning)