Welcome to my first NBA Opening Line Report of the new season. I will be providing early lines and potential injury news that could affect them for games played Tuesday-Saturday. You never know when you can find an early advantage to exploit. I love the NBA, but in a way this season seems almost anti-climactic as it will be a shock if the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers don't play in a third straight NBA Finals. Did you know that two teams have never squared off in three straight Finals? I would have thought the Lakers and Celtics would have. In a recent vote of NBA general managers, the Warriors and Cavaliers each got 97 percent of the votes cast by GMs when asked to pick the Western and Eastern conference champions. They only reason both weren't unanimous is that GMs weren't allowed to vote for their own teams. Boston got the other conference-title vote in the East; San Antonio got the other one in the West.
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Knicks at Cavaliers (-9.5, 198)
First of a TNT doubleheader. What an amazing night it will be in Cleveland! The Cavaliers raise their first-ever championship banner and the Indians will be hosting Game 1 of the World Series literally right across the street. If you are a Cleveland sports fan, which do you choose to attend in person? The Cavs are pretty much back intact unless you think the losses of Matthew Dellavedova or Timofey Mozgov matter. They don't. The Cavs did add some perimeter shooting in Mike Dunleavy, formerly of the Bulls.
The Knicks were very busy this offseason in trading for former MVP Derrick Rose from Chicago, signing Bulls free-agent and Rose pal Joakim Noah and adding guards Courtney Lee and Brandon Jennings. Rose had the laughable audacity to say that "people" were calling the Knicks and Warriors the league's super teams this offseason. Yeah, no "people" said that about New York. It was worth rolling the dice on Rose, who had the preseason distraction of his civil trial, considering he has just one year left on his contract and the Knicks gave up little to get him. A trio of Rose, Noah and Carmelo Anthony would have been dynamic about four years ago. But this is Kristaps Porzingis' team now. The Knicks were swept by the Cavs last year.
Key trends: The Cavaliers are 8-1 against the spread in their past nine at home. The "over/under" has gone under in the past seven meetings.
Early lean: Cavs and under.
Jazz at Trail Blazers (-5.5, 192)
I believe Utah will be a playoff team this season and could finish as high as fourth in the Western Conference despite a 40-42 mark last year. This team has a boatload of young talent and added solid veterans in Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw this offseason. Unfortunately, the team's best player won't be ready to start the season, and that's small forward Gordon Hayward. He broke his finger early this month in practice and likely won't play until mid-November. Hayward, a free-agent-to-be, led the Jazz in scoring at 19.7 points last year. In addition, power forward Derrick Favors is in question for Utah for the opener as he battled knee trouble during the preseason. I guess I should qualify my Jazz fourth-place potential with "if they stay healthy".
The Blazers in my mind were the biggest surprises in the NBA last year as not much was expected from them and they were supposed to be lottery-bound. But behind a terrific backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, Portland won 44 games and was able to upset the Clippers in the first round of the playoffs, although only because L.A. lost Chris Paul and Blake Griffin to injury. The Blazers didn't lose anyone of significance and added two solid reserves in Evan Turner (Celtics) and Festus Ezeli (Warriors). Portland won three of four vs. Utah last year.
Key trends: The Jazz are 5-2 ATS in their past seven road games. The under is 12-5 in their past 17 overall. The under is 5-2 in Portland's past seven on Tuesday.
Early lean: Jazz and under.
Spurs at Warriors (-9, 208.5)
Second game of the TNT doubleheader and I'll surely be watching Kevin Durant's Warriors debut. I honestly don't see how Golden State doesn't win its second title in three years or be one of the greatest offensive forces in league history with Durant, two-time MVP Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. That's the greatest perimeter trio on one team perhaps ever. No, the Warriors aren't going to break their record of 73 regular-season wins (total is set at 66.5, although you can find props of 73.5). They don't care anything about that and learned their lesson last year that going for it might have worn them down in the playoffs. The Warriors aren't as deep as last year, though, after losing guys like Harrison Barnes, Andrew Bogut, Ezeli, Leandro Barbosa and Marreese Speights.
San Antonio had one of the best regular seasons ever in 2015-16 in winning 67 games and losing just once at home, but no one remembers that because of the Warriors and then the Spurs falling flat in the playoffs against Oklahoma City. It's a new era for the Spurs as they take the floor without Tim Duncan for the first time the end of the 1997 season. Now you hear talk the Spurs will listen on All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who apparently isn't happy already. San Antonio did add All-Star big man Pau Gasol to replace Duncan, so it might actually be a bit better offensively. San Antonio was 1-3 vs. Golden State last year. The Spurs open the season without Danny Green due to a thigh injury.
Key trends: The Spurs are 8-3 ATS in their past 11 on Tuesday. The Warriors are 1-5 ATS in their past six on the day. The under is 5-1 in the past six meetings.
Early lean: Spurs and under. It might take the Warriors some time to come together.
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