An Early Look at the 2018 NBA Opening Night Fixtures with Predictions
Published on October 05, 2018
The 2018/19 NBA regular season is so close I can taste it. It’s almost two weeks away, and I’m bound to be weighed down by countless NBA preseason betting traps, but close nonetheless.
While seemingly meaningless and often monotonous, those preseason games actually serve a purpose. NBA teams incorporate their systems, nurse injured stars back to health, break rookies into the rotation, and gauge where they’re at.
NBA bettors are in prep mode, too, as they ready themselves for the daily NBA betting grind. As grueling as it can be, nothing is quite as difficult to gear up for as the first few weeks.
Sure, the stud squads like the Warriors and Celtics will probably get off to fast starts and win most of their games. However, there are some teams that will perform below expectations, a few that will exceed them, and a good chunk of the league that simply has no clue which direction they’re going in yet.
That doesn’t have to be the feeling on opening night in the NBA, though. Luckily, it’s simplified for sports bettors, as October 16th tips things off and showcases just two games.
You can ease into a long 82-game marathon, and with just those two contests on the docket, hours of research should be able to pay off.
As of this writing, there are no firm lines for either of these games. That’s to be expected, as a lot can happen over the next two weeks. Injuries are the biggest issue for NBA betting sites, but the second lines for these games pop up, you’ll want to try to exploit any obvious value.
I can’t know what that will be just yet, but let’s take a quick look at both games to see how you might want to prepare your wagers.
This should stand out as a familiar matchup, seeing as the Sixers and Celtics squared off in a pretty intense playoff series just last year.
The rise of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons catapulted the 76ers to the top portion of the Eastern Conference, transforming a perennial cellar dweller into a legit title threat in just one season.
Losing to a Celtics team that made the Eastern Conference Finals the year prior isn’t damning, but the fact that Boston won so decidedly without both Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward probably is.
Things weren’t much better during the regular season last year, as Boston won the series there as well, 3-1. The teams aren’t the same as they were in the past, but to suggest the Celtics might have a mental hold over Philadelphia is an understatement.
Including the playoffs, the Celtics have now secured wins in 18 of the last 21 meetings.
Yikes, I know.
But wait, there’s more. The Celtics get this season opener at home, where they were a stellar 27-14 a year ago. Again, this was with Gordon Hayward missing 81 games and Irving sitting out the stretch run to close out the year.
Boston has also been deadly against the spread, as they finished last season #1 with a 62% conversion rate on their spreads. They also went 32-18-2 against the spread at the TD Garden and 38-26-2 ATS as a favorite.
The Sixers aren’t a lost cause here. They were better than average (22-19) away from home last year and have one of the most dynamic offenses in the NBA (11th in efficiency).
Unfortunately, playing on the road in TD Garden can be a nightmare, and the Sixers actually lost some key role players. The rise of would-be draft bust Markelle Fultz might make that a non-issue, but the Sixers have a lot going against them in this spot.
The spread isn’t out yet, but I do think I’d have interest in Philly keeping this close, while a modest total could be in play for the over.
Again, without the actual data, it’s tough to make a call there. However, if you get a tight line that isn’t obnoxious, the Celtics feel like a lock to start the year off at 1-0 on their home floor.
The only thing that could have made opening day more intense is if you had LeBron James still on the Cavs in Boston or the Rockets taking on the Dubs.
You’re getting the next best pairing of contests, while the second game should have an angry Russell Westbrook trying to triple-double his way through Golden State’s souls.
The defending champs are tough to bet against, at least in theory. I should point out that they were not great against the spread (45-57-1) a year ago, while some of their Oracle Arena mystique (29-12) wore off compared to last season.
They also started off the year with a loss for the second year in a row last year. I’m not too eager to bank on that happening for the third straight season on their home turf, but like every tiny nugget of data you can get your mitts on, it’s something to think about.
For the most part, though, the Dubs are still the most loaded team in the league, and it’s tough to ever really envision anyone beating them.
OKC has upended the Dubs a few times over the years and nearly ousted them for a trip to the Finals three years ago. However, it’s been largely Golden State during the regular season (9-2 over the last 11 meetings), and much of the Thunder’s success in this matchup came with Kevin Durant still in town.
You can’t completely write the Thunder off here, of course. Should Russell Westbrook (knee surgery) be back and healthy for this one, he and Paul George still team up to give the Warriors two superstars to worry about on the defensive end.
OKC actually vastly improved their depth over the summer as well. Dennis Schroder is the bench spark they’ve been lacking, while Nerlens Noel gives their second unit an elite defensive edge. The return of a healthy Andre Roberson also beefs up their defense and ball movement.
The Thunder are a viable threat on opening night, but the Dubs are still going to be the call. I like the Dubs to win, the total to hit the over, and OKC to beat the spread.
The big takeaway is that it’s still early. As I write this, Paul George is away from the Thunder for personal reasons, and Russell Westbrook isn’t even healthy enough to suit up yet.
Boston and Philly are healthy and look ready to roll, but things can change in a matter of days – let alone two weeks.
I think you can start projecting things, researching, and figuring out how you plan to bet. The better prepared you are, the easier it’ll be to jump on prices the second they come out.
I’ll probably swing around for an update when that does happen, but an early breakdown like this should be helpful or at least get you in the right mindset to start thinking about placing wagers.
It’s going to be an exciting NBA season. Hopefully, my insight can help you win some cash along the way.