The NBA season officially started with the double header on Tuesday, but it seems like the real start is Wednesday when the remaining 26 teams start their 2020 -21 campaigns in a jam-packed board for weather.
I know I’m higher than the general consensus in the heat, but I certainly can’t be the only one looking at that line and scratching my head. After Miami finally got over a rash of injuries at the end of the 2019-20 season, it beat the spread in the playoffs 15: 5: 1 – synonymous with the third-best postseason record for a team since 2002 (at least 10 games). .
The Heat kicks off this year with a similar list of young, up-and-coming stars who are likely to want to prove themselves after failing in the finals a year ago. The Magic, meanwhile, doesn’t have a solid guard rotation even at full strength – which is an issue against Miami’s tenacious full defense – while their defense is an important issue without Jonathan Isaac, who will miss the year with a torn ACL.
The Heat has an ATS value of 8-4 at the season opener under Erik Spoelstra and is well suited for a win on Wednesday.
I may be too tough on the Raptors kicking off the 2019-20 season after an impressive 2019-20 campaign, but I worry that what made Toronto so special over the past two years is no longer there.
Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka have disappeared, whose elite central defense over the past two seasons laid the foundation for the Raptors’ choking defenses. Aron Baynes and Alex Len are worthwhile additions, but Toronto’s defense has to slip and its offensive relies too much on the growth of suspicious offensive options to inspire me.
This is a bad matchup to test that central defense too, as Zion Williamson appears poised for an stellar second season on an upgraded Pelicans forecourt. Give me the points in a game that could go either way.
Something seems to be wrong with jazz, which has gone through inconsistency spells over the past year and has had to build a strained relationship between its two stars over the past nine months. Utah ended the season with an 11-21-2 ATS run, and while Donovan Mitchell’s playoff performance is encouraging, Mike Conley’s late-season breakdown is not.
The blazers also disappointed weather a season ago, although injuries were the bigger culprit there. Zach Collins is still recovering from an ankle surgery, but Jusuf Nurkic is a key returner for a remodeled Portland lineup that finally has versatile wings to add to its star backcourt.
If Damian Lillard can open this year with the same fire he showed last season, the blazers at the start of the campaign would be a clear value. For the moment, it’s still worth betting at a modest price.
I love the Suns as an up buy after an aggressive off-season while I feared the Mavericks could become overvalued after reaching their potential a year ago. So I wasn’t expecting to find any value for Dallas in this season opener matchup.
That said, it’s hard not to like the Mavericks here after returning the bulk of a roster that ranked sixth in the net rating (4). 8) and first in the offensive rating (115. 9) in 2019-20. Phoenix was impressive in the bubble, improving their roster this off-season, but this team has yet to figure out exactly what it’s offensive with Chris Paul playing alongside a heavily used star in Devin Booker.
The Mavericks are clearly valued higher than the Suns in the futures market, and the home court shouldn’t give that much consideration without fans in attendance. I’m sure I’ll bet a lot on Phoenix this year, but this place won’t be one of those times.
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He is an award-winning journalist with positions at The Charlotte Observer, the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Times Herald-Record and BetChicago. He’s also a proud graduate of UNC Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea can only match that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.
Miami Heat, Jimmy Butler, NBA, Los Angeles Lakers, Orlando Magic, Eastern Conference
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