Tuesday starts the best two-month or so stretch of the entire sports betting season in my opinion. That's because while college football, the NFL and NHL are still going strong, now we get the NBA season going. I've got my League Pass ready! I previewed the top NBA title contenders here at Doc's last week, but let's give one last update on futures odds at Bovada. The Cavaliers are +275 favorites to win the NBA championship; they also were favorites entering last season. San Antonio (+350), Golden State (+500) and Oklahoma City (+800) are the only other teams under +1000. While the 2014-15 Warriors had arguably the best regular season of any NBA team since Michael Jordan's Bulls, I don't see them repeating. Everything broke right for the Warriors in last year's playoffs; do you realize that every opponent's point guard was either hobbled or out in that playoff run for Golden State? Right now, I like a Cavs-Thunder Finals with Cleveland winning it because the West playoffs will be a bloodbath again.
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Cavaliers at Bulls (-2.5, 198)
Chicago is probably the only team in the East that has a chance to beat Cleveland -- Zach Lowe, the excellent Grantland NBA writer, actually predicted that the Bulls would get the top seed in the East. Not sure if I agree with that, but it's not totally far-fetched with how banged up the Cavs are already. They will begin the season without their starting backcourt of Kyrie Irving and Iman Shumpert. Irving's return from knee surgery is still TBA, while Shumpert likely won't be back from a wrist injury until at least Christmas. So new additions Mo Williams and Richard Jefferson will start. LeBron James sat out the final few preseason games after getting an injection in his back but will play Tuesday. So will Kevin Love off his shoulder surgery that cut short his 2015 postseason early. Tristan Thompson, who finally agreed to an extension with the Cavs last week, will also play. He had been holding out. For the Bulls, Derrick Rose returned from his broken eye socket and played in the preseason finale, so he will be in there. It probably will be limited minutes, however. Chicago is without small forward Mike Dunleavy until likely December off back surgery. Cleveland won three of four meetings with Chicago last regular season and then knocked the Bulls out of the Eastern Conference semifinals in six games.
Key trends: Cleveland is 2-5 ATS in the past seven meetings in Chicago. The "over/under" has gone under in four of Chicago's past five at home (but that was under Tom Thibodeau and not new offensive-minded head coach Fred Hoiberg).
Early lean: Bulls and over.
Pistons at Hawks (-7, 198.5)
If you think the preseason matters at all, and I don't, these teams closed it against one another, with Detroit winning 115-87 at home on Friday. Many key Hawks didn't even travel for the game. New Pistons guard Steve Blake made his preseason debut as he was dealing with a concussion. Don't sleep on Detroit's Stanley Johnson for Rookie of the Year as he looked very impressive at times in the preseason. The Pistons, who lost forward Greg Monroe this offseason, will start new additions Marcus Morris (at small forward) and Ersan Ilyasova (at the four) to begin the year. It's not yet 100 percent that guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will play as he's dealing with a left foot strain The Hawks lost forward DeMarre Carroll to free agency and will start Kent Bazemore at his small forward spot. That's a pretty huge downgrade. Atlanta was 3-1 vs. Detroit last year.
Key trends: The Pistons are 10-4 ATS in their past 14 vs. the East. The Hawks are 1-4 in their past five at home. The under is 4-0 in the past four meetings in Atlanta.
Early lean: Hawks and over.
Pelicans at Warriors (-9.5, 213)
Golden State will raise its championship banner on Tuesday night in Oakland. New Orleans is already banged up. Swingman Tyreke Evans just had knee surgery and will miss at least the first six weeks. Point guard Jrue Holiday is expected to be on a minutes limit of about 15 per night until January. Plagued by stress fractures in his right leg, Holiday has played in just 74 games during his two seasons with New Orleans. He missed one game of last season's playoff sweep at the hands of the Warriors and didn't play more than 21 minutes in the other three. Anthony Davis, my 2015-16 MVP pick, will have to carry even more of the load in the first few months. It's also not clear if Pelicans center Omer Asik will play as he's dealing with a calf strain. This will be the Pelicans coaching debut of Alvin Gentry, who was Steve Kerr's "offensive coordinator" with the Warriors last season. Kerr remains sidelined indefinitely following back surgery. Luke Walton is the interim coach. Kerr will be there Tuesday, though, to get his NBA championship ring. Warriors center Andrew Bogut will play despite a broken nose.
Key trends: New Orleans is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 10-2 in Golden State's past 12 vs. the West. The under is 5-1-1 in New Orleans' past seven on the road.
Early lean: Warriors and under.
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