NBA Odds & Picks: Our Favorite Warriors vs. Lakers Opening Night Bets (Tuesday, October 19)
Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis #3, Golden State Warriors center Kevon Looney #5.
- What better way to kick off the NBA season that with the top four teams in terms of title odds.
- Our experts have are making four bets -- two prop bets and two moneyline plays -- in Tuesday's NBA doubleheader.
- Read on to see how we're betting Nets vs. Bucks and Warriors vs. Lakers on opening night.
It has been 92 days since meaningful basketball has been played, but finally the NBA returns on Tuesday night with a double-header with rematches of two exciting rivalries from last season.
In the early game, we get a rematch of last postseason’s grueling seven-game series between the Brooklyn Nets and the reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks. In the late game, the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers meet at Staples after their thrilling matchup in last season’s play-in game.
Three of our NBA analysts break down how they are approaching tonight’s games below.
NBA Odds & Picks
Brooklyn Nets vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Joe Dellera: The Brooklyn Nets face off against the Milwaukee Bucks in a rematch of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals to tip off the NBA season. One of the biggest question marks this entire offseason has been the availability of Kyrie Irving due to his refusal to become vaccinated for COVID-19.
That being said, James Harden looks to finally be healthy, and without Irving on the floor, he should see an uptick in his usage. Although the Nets added Patty Mills in the offseason and while he’s capable of passing the basketball effectively that does not mean that he does it often. He ranks towards the bottom of the league for combo guards in Assist Percentage (14.1%), per Cleaning the Glass.
He had to play a different role with the Australian National Team during the Olympics this offseason due to the absence of a pass first guard (Benjamin Simmons) so his average of 6.3 assists during the Tokyo Olympics is a bit of an outlier and I don’t expect him to eat into Harden’s assist numbers.
Looking at last season, Harden averaged 24.6 points, 10.9 assists, and 8.5 rebounds in 36 regular season games with the Nets, per Basketball Reference. These numbers spiked when Kyrie Irving did not play. Including the postseason, Harden played 12 games with the Nets without Irving, and in those games he averaged 27.4 points, 10.7 assists, and 8.2 rebounds, with a median assists output of 10, per Statmuse.
There will be plenty of scoring opportunities in this game with a total approaching 240, and I think Harden facilitates much of that for the Nets. I’ll take the over on his assists total.
Brooklyn Nets vs. Milwaukee Bucks
Brandon Anderson: Opening Night is a tough play because we’ve got only four teams in action, and only one of them has a predictable rotation. The one other guy we can be pretty confident will play big minutes, though, is Joe Harris.
Harris is the perfect complementary piece in this Brooklyn offense. The defense can’t cover everyone, and if the Nets know they’re going to have someone left open, why not make it one of the best shooters on the planet?
Harris led the NBA with a 47.5% 3-point percentage last year, and he led the league in 2018-19 too. And his numbers have been just as strong and often stronger with Harden on the roster. Since Harden joined Brooklyn on Jan. 16, Harris averaged 14.0 PPG and hit 3.1 3s per game on 47%.
Though we have only three regular season games of data with Harden and Durant but no Kyrie, one of those games came against these Bucks, and Harris scored 20 and hit five 3s.
Of course, we do have some more Harris data against the Bucks. The last time we saw him, he was having an absolute nightmare series against Milwaukee in the playoffs. He scored only 9.6 PPG across those seven games and couldn’t hit a shot to save his life, finishing the series under 35% from the field.
So it goes — sometimes shooters run cold. What’s important from that series is that Harris kept playing and kept shooting. Even ice cold Harris took over 10 shots a game, including 7.0 3-point attempts.
Harris should get minutes and shots, and some of those shots will likely be open. We know the Bucks allow more 3s than a typical team, and we know Joe likes to shoot.
This line feels a couple points too low, especially with Irving out and Harris as the clear top off-ball shooter. Harris went over 10.5 points in 46 of 69 games last season, covering this line 67% of the time. He had at least nine points in all but 10 games, putting us within a single shot of a cover.
We’re projecting Harris at 13.3 points. This line looks badly mispriced. Let’s get a win on the books. I’ll play to -140 and would play over 11.5 if needed.
Golden State Warriors vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Raheem Palmer: The Lakers have the potential to be disappointing similar to what we saw from the 2012 Lakers with Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard and Steve Nash being touted as contenders despite three of the four players in the started lineup reaching the dreaded “Larry Holmes” portions of their respective careers where they were well past their primes against young dominant competition.
Anthony Davis is still just 28 years old, but LeBron James and Russell Westbrook are 36 and 32 respectively, which makes the core of this group old by NBA standards for championship contenders. While James will most certainly receive the benefit of the doubt as one of the greatest to play the game, Westbrook’s play is problematic to say the least.
During the preseason Westbrook averaged 8.2 turnovers per 36 minutes and given his inability to stretch the floor as a consistent 3-point shooter, the fit with him and James as ball dominant players is clunky to say the least.
With this team playing few preseason games together and dealing with injuries to Talen Horton-Tucker, Trevor Ariza, Wayne Ellington (all ruled out) and Kendrick Nunn (questionable), I’m expecting a slow start for the Lakers who take on a Warriors team that looks to be on its way back to prominence after two down years.
The Warriors took 53.2 3-point attempts per game in the preseason, which means the Lakers could find themselves facing a math problem. In addition, the Warriors are a deeper roster with the additions of Otto Porter and Nemanja Bjelica. Jordan Pool’s emergence and Andre Iguodala’s return make this is a dangerous roster.
James’ teams have a 7-11 record in season openers throughout his career and the Lakers have lost on opening night all three years since he joined the team in 2018. I’ll be playing the Warriors moneyline, but I also want to isolate the bench units for the Lakers against a deeper Warriors team, so I’ll be playing the Warriors first half moneyline, too as they should get out to a hot start against a Lakers team that hasn’t played much together.