Fri, Oct 19, 11:29am by Staff Writer
The first weekend of the 2018-19 NBA season features some blockbuster matches in both conferences, headlined by Boston’s visit to Toronto on Saturday.
Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors
Saturday, 20 October 2018 at 10:10am (AEDST) at Scotiabank Arena, Toronto
A potential Eastern Conference finals preview is on the cards on Saturday morning when the Boston Celtics play the Toronto Raptors.
The Raptors are $1.72 favourites to win the match, with Boston priced as $2.13 underdogs.
Each team won its opening game of the season by double digits as Boston defeat Philadelphia and Toronto took care of Cleveland.
Last season was one of the most successful in franchise history for the Raptors, who finished as the Eastern Conference’s top seed.
They were bundled out of the playoffs by Cleveland in a series sweep and that triggered a flurry of off-season moves.
The Raptors fired coach Dwane Casey and traded All Star DeMar DeRozan to San Antonio for Kawhi Leonard.
The move was a big one for the franchise, given Leonard’s much publicised desire to sign in Los Angeles when he becomes a free agent in the offseason.
Boston is bolstered by the return of Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving from injury, two players who missed their playoff run in 2017-18.
The Celtics pushed Cleveland to seven games in the playoffs and will be looking to go one better and make the NBA Finals this season.
Boston is stacked with weapons across the floor and they have depth in every position. That is something that Toronto lacks and that the C’s will look to exploit on Saturday.
The home team is usually given a little bit of grace in the market and that’s why Toronto start this one as favourites. The value is with the Celtics in this one in what should be a great early season game.
Best bet- Boston Celtics to win at $2.13
Golden State Warriors at Utah Jazz
Saturday, 20 October 2018 at 12:40pm (AEDST) at Vivint Smart Homes Arena, Salt Lake City
The Utah Jazz surprised many when they finished last season as the fifth seed in the Western Conference.
They climbed up the standings in large part due to the stellar play of rookie Donovan Mitchell.
The Jazz have a big challenge ahead of them on Saturday afternoon in their home opener against the Golden State Warriors.
The reigning champs are $1.81 favourites to win the match with the Jazz priced at $2.
The Jazz are one of the teams that Golden State struggled against last season and they have lost their last three matches against Utah.
All three of those losses came by double digits and included 30 and 40 point losses in Utah.
The Jazz stumbled out of the blocks against Sacramento on Thursday, giving up a 25-9 start before clawing their way back to win 123-117.
The Warriors held on for an opening night win against the Oklahoma City Thunder despite not playing their best basketball, winning 108-100.
Utah was 28-13 at home a year ago and really only got going in the second half of the season. Home underdogs are great value early in the season as team’s get into their groove, so we are backing Utah to get the job done.
Best bet- Utah Jazz to win at $2
Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers
Sunday, 21 October 2018 at 12:40pm (AEDST) at Staples Center, Los Angeles
LeBron James’ home debut for the Los Angeles Lakers takes place on Sunday afternoon in one of the most anticipated games of the season so far.
The Lakers are $1.86 favourites to beat last season’s Western Conference finalists the Houston Rockets, who are priced at $1.95.
It was a shocking start to the season for the Rockets who were blown out 131-112 by the New Orleans Pelicans in Houston on Thursday.
The Rockets gave up 30 points or more in every quarter as they looked all at sea defensively in a horrible performance.
The Lakers get their season underway against Portland on the road on Friday before this match.
Anywhere LeBron James goes he has success and in his three previous first years with a team, their wins have improved by double digits every time.
The Lakers finished 10th in the Western Conference a year ago, but will be looking to make the playoffs with the likes of Kyle Kuzma and Lonzo Ball improving after their rookie season.
It was only one game, but Houston look to be lacking defensively and played poorly against one of the NBA’s worst defensive teams themselves in New Orleans.
Look for the Lakers to get off to a winning start at home.
Best bet- Los Angeles Lakers to win at $1.86
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