Even though the Philadelphia 76ers lost their home opener on Wednesday against Oklahoma City, the night was an unqualified success and this franchise might actually be on the right track now. If you watched Joel Embiid in his one season at Kansas, then you saw a superstar-in-waiting for the NBA. But foot injuries cost Embiid his first two NBA seasons. Before a raucous sellout crowd on Wednesday, Embiid had 20 points, seven rebounds and two blocks and was the second-best player on the floor after Russell Westbrook. Embiid was supposed to be on a 20-minute limit but played 22. That's about all you will see him for a while as Philly isn't going to mess around with his health. More good news: 2016 No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons said Wednesday after watching the game that there has been no talk about shutting it down for his entire rookie season. His agent had hinted at that a few weeks ago. The 76ers are going to be a really interesting team to watch in the second half of the season and could become Timberwolves East with a ton of young talent.
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Hawks at 76ers (+6.5, 201)
An unusual 12:30 p.m. ET start time. Atlanta opened with a 114-99 home win over Washington on Thursday. Paul Millsap had 28 points, seven rebounds and six assists, and Dwight Howard looked pretty good playing for his hometown team for the first time with 11 points and 19 rebounds. Philadelphia lost to the Thunder 103-97 as the Sixers don't have that crunch-time guy yet. They couldn't get a bucket down 99-97 and then the Thunder finished things off at the free-throw line. Another bright spot was the play of point guard Sergio Rodriguez, who had 12 points and nine assists. He's back in the NBA for the first time since 2010. The Hawks have won three straight in the series.
Key trends: The Hawks are 8-3 against the spread in the past 11 meetings. The "over/under" is 5-0 in Philly's past five vs. the East.
Early lean: 76ers and over.
Celtics at Hornets (+3, 204.5)
Boston lost its first road game of the year Thursday, 105-99 in Chicago in the second of a back-to-back. Isaiah Thomas led Boston with 25 points, but the Celtics clearly missed the injured Marcus Smart from a defensive point of view. He won't play here. It's the second of a back-to-back for Charlotte as it was in Miami on Friday. This is the Hornets' home opener. The Celtics lost their lone home game to the Hornets last year but won both in Charlotte, each low scoring.
Key trends: The Celtics are 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings. The under is 7-1 in the past eight in Charlotte.
Early lean: Celtics and under.
Grizzlies at Knicks (-3, 196.5)
Memphis opened with a 102-98 win in Minnesota on Wednesday in Dave Fizdale's head coaching debut. The Grizzlies, who trailed with 1:45 remaining, closed the game on an 11-5 run. Mike Conley had 24 points, and Zach Randolph, who is now a full-time sixth man, had 19 points and 11 rebounds. The Grizz played without Chandler Parsons (knee rehab) and Tony Allen (right knee). Allen might play here. New York was blown out in Cleveland on Tuesday. Derrick Rose was 7-for-17 for 17 points with four turnovers and just one assist in his Knicks debut. Joakim Noah was scoreless in 20 minutes. The Grizzlies were 2-0 vs. the Knicks last year.
Key trends: The Grizzlies have covered the past four in the series. The under is 14-2 in New York's past 16 vs. the West.
Early lean: Knicks and under.
Magic at Cavaliers (-9.5, 208)
Orlando was in Detroit on Friday night. It's also the second of a back-to-back for Cleveland, which visited Toronto on Friday in an Eastern Conference Finals rematch. Cavs guards Kay Felder (rookie) and Iman Shumpert were both expected to play after clearing concussion protocol. The Magic have lost 14 straight games to Cleveland, which is tied for the longest all-time losing streak against any opponent for the Magic (vs. Pistons from 1989-1993).
Key trends: The Magic are 0-6-1 ATS in their past seven in Cleveland. The under is 5-1 in the past six there.
Early lean: Cavs and under.
Pacers at Bulls (-3.5, 208)
Indiana was in Brooklyn on Friday night. New-look Chicago opened on Thursday at home vs. Boston and won 105-99. Jimmy Butler had 24 points, and Dwayne Wade, who made all of seven 3-pointers last year with Miami, hit four of them vs. Boston, including the clincher. The Bulls were expected to be perhaps the worst 3-point shooting team in the NBA this season. The Pacers and Bulls played twice this preseason if that matters. Chicago won three of the four regular-season meetings last season, including both games at the United Center. The Bulls have won six of the past seven at home in the series.
Key trends: The home team is 9-4 ATS in the past 13 meetings. The under is 6-1 in the past seven.
Early lean: Bulls and under.
Nets at Bucks (-7, 208.5)
Brooklyn hosted Indiana on Friday. Milwaukee lost 107-96 at home to Charlotte on Wednesday and the game wasn't really that close most of the way. Giannis Antetokounmpo, now a full-time 6-foot-11 point guard, led the Bucks with 31 points, nine rebounds and five assists. But Milwaukee couldn't buy a 3-pointer, and that's going to be an issue all season without Khris Middleton. Of course Bucks head coach Jason Kidd began his NBA coaching career with the Nets in the 2013-14 season. Milwaukee swept Brooklyn last year, 3-0.
Key trends: The Nets are 3-9 ATS in their past 12 in Milwaukee. The over is 7-2 in the past nine meetings.
Early lean: Bucks and over.
Pelicans at Spurs (-13.5, 206.5)
First of an NBA TV doubleheader and the schedule-makers did New Orleans no favors as it hosted a likely ornery Golden State team on Friday night and then has to go to San Antonio. The Spurs followed their stunning win in Oakland on Tuesday with a 102-94 victory Thursday in Sacramento, a game I thought might be a letdown effort. Kawhi Leonard continued his red-hot start with 35 points. He's the first Spur with at least 30 points and five steals in consecutive games since Alvin Robertson in 1986. San Antonio was 2-1 vs. New Orleans last year. In the final matchup, the Spurs broke the NBA record for most home wins to start a season as they improved to 38-0 there with a 100-92 victory at AT&T Center.
Key trends: The Pelicans are 7-1 ATS in the past eight meetings. The under is 3-0-1 in the past four.
Early lean: Spurs should crush Pelicans in home opener. Go under.
Trail Blazers at Nuggets (-1.5, 212.5)
Portland on Thursday lost at home to the Clippers, 114-106 (called that one). Damian Lillard led the Blazers with 29 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out late. Portland largely lives and dies from the 3-point arc and was only 4-for-18 out there. This will be Denver's home opener as it won 107-102 in New Orleans on Wednesday. Jusuf Nurkic scored 23 points, and Will Barton added 22. Barton normally will be the team's sixth man, but he started with guard Gary Harris sidelined with a groin injury, but there's a solid chance Harris plays here. The Trail Blazers won three of their four games against the Nuggets last year and have taken 11 of the past 12 regular-season games.
Key trends: The Blazers are 6-2 ATS in the past eight in Denver. The over is 4-1 in the past five.
Early lean: Nuggets and over.
Timberwolves at Kings (-1, 208)
The second NBA TV game. Minnesota opened the Tom Thibodeau coaching era with a 102-98 loss in Memphis on Wednesday. The Wolves were up 20-3 at one point. Andrew Wiggins led the Timberwolves with 25 points, while Karl-Anthony Towns finished with 21. Kris Dunn, one of the NBA Rookie of the Year betting favorites, had eight points in 15 minutes. Sacramento opened its new arena on Thursday and lost 102-94 to San Antonio despite 37 points and 16 rebounds from DeMarcus Cousins. The Kings led by nine midway through the third but then went ice cold. Minnesota swept the Kings last year, 4-0.
Key trends: The Wolves are 6-0 ATS in the past six in Sacramento. The under is 4-0 in the past four meetings overall.
Early lean: Kings and under.
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