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NBA Midweek Specials: Celtics, Thunder and Mavericks our picks

Tue, Oct 16, 11:58am by Staff Writer

The 2018-19 NBA season begins on Wednesday morning (AEDST) with ESPN Australia’s coverage of two games, starting with the Philadelphia 76ers’ visit to the TD Garden to take on the Boston Celtics.

Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics

Wednesday, 17 October 2018 at 10:10am (AEDST) at TD Garden, Boston

Two heavyweights in the Eastern Conference clash on Opening Night when the Celtics host the 76ers.

Boston is a $1.46 favourite to win the match, while the 76ers are $2.72 road underdogs.

The two sides figure to be the leading contenders in the Eastern Conference given LeBron James’ deflection from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Celtics are boosted by the return of guard Gordon Hayward who missed the 2017-18 season after suffering a gruesome leg injury on opening night last season.

Philadelphia has maintained much of the roster that took it to the second round of the playoffs.

After spending years in the doldrums, this Philly side has a wealth of young talent, including Australian Ben Simmons and centre Joel Embiid.

Boston got the better of Philadelphia 4-1 in the playoffs last season, despite being without Hayward and point guard Kyrie Irving.

Both players will be available for Wednesday’s game and Boston should be too strong in front of a raucous home crowd.

Best bet- Boston Celtics to cover five-point handicap at $1.92

Oklahoma City Thunder at Golden State Warriors

Wednesday, 17 October 2018 at 12:40pm (AEDST) at Oracle Arena, Oakland

The Golden State Warriors will receive their Championship Rings on Wednesday afternoon when they host the Oklahoma City Thunder.

This will be Golden State’s final season in Oakland before they move to a new arena in San Francisco.

They are $1.10 favourites to win this match and $1.60 to win the NBA Championship for a third year in a row.

Oklahoma City are huge $7 underdogs in this one and are likely to be without Russell Westbrook, who has missed the entire pre season through injury.

They lost Carmelo Anthony during the off-season, but retained Paul George and recruited well, with former Atlanta Hawks point guard Dennis Schroder joining the team.

The Warriors continue to go from strength to strength and managed to snare currently injured centre DeMarcus Cousins to a one-year deal.

The rivalry between these two teams has been heated at times, but dominated by the Warriors.

Golden State lost last season’s home opener as heavy favourites against San Antonio and start this match as 12.5-point favourites.

Their lack of an experienced centre could count against them, with the Thunder’s Steven Adams one of the league’s elite big men.

The starting line is far too big of a start to be giving away in an opening game, despite Westbrook being out.

Best bet- Oklahoma City Thunder to cover 12.5-point handicap at $1.92

Dallas Mavericks at Phoenix Suns

Thursday, 18 October 2018 at 1:40pm (AEDST) at Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix

The second of two games on ESPN on Thursday afternoon is hardly a blockbuster when the Dallas Mavericks take on the Phoenix Suns.

Both teams are full of young talented players and it’s hard to separate the two.

The Suns are slight home favourites at $1.85, with the Mavs $1.96 underdogs.

Phoenix will debut number one pick Deandre Ayton for his first regular season game, while the Mavs will be unfurling their own new centre.

After trying for years to snare DeAndre Jordan from the Los Angeles Clippers, the Mavs finally got their man.

Dirk Nowitzki has not played in the preseason and neither has Devon Booker for the Suns, which makes their project output unknown.

Phoenix is struggling in the point guard position and may opt to run sets with Booker as their primary ball handler.

The Mavs will start number three pick and reigning Euroleague player of the year Luca Doncic on Thursday afternoon.

Given their decided advantage in the ball handling position and experience in the big man department, will be able to handle a poor Phoenix team.

Best bet- Dallas Mavericks to win at $1.96

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