Six more NBA teams will tip-off for the first time this season today as action on the NBA schedule continues to heat up. Here is a glimpse at each game and the all-important point-spread picks.
Indiana Pacers 1-0 at Charlotte Bobcats 0-0
Charlotte is coming off its worst season in franchise history and that’s really saying something for the Bobcats. However, they enter 2012-2013 with a clean slate and open the season at home against the Pacers, who are coming off a 90-88 win over the Raptors.
The Bobcats made some changes in the offseason that should help them, including signing a new coach, Mike Dunplap, and some new players like Ben Gordon and second overall pick, Micheal Kidd-Gilchrist. The Bobcats will be improved this season under Dunlap, but they are still very young and inexperienced, so I wouldn’t expect too much from them out of the gate. The Pacers should win, but they will be without their leading scorer Danny Granger, who is out with a knee injury. That’s why I think the Cats can at least cover +7 points today.
Denver Nuggets 0-1 at Orlando Magic 0-0
The new-look Nuggets opened the season with a 84-75 loss against the 76ers and now travel to Orlando to face the Magic, who are making their season debut. It will mark the first game in the post-Dwight-Howard era with a team that barely resembles last year’s squad.
The Magic are obviously in rebuild mode after losing their best player and although we’re not sure what to expect from the Nuggets this season, I think they should take this one on the road. Look for Denver to cover -6 points today.
Milwaukee Bucks 0-0 at Boston Celtics 0-1
After beginning the season with a loss to the defending champion Heat, the Celtics will look to rebound today against the Bucks at home.
The bad news for the Bucks is that despite losing Ray Allen, the Celtics may be a deeper team than they have been in years past after the acquisitions of Jason Terry and Leandro Barbosa. The Celtics also match-up well with Rajon Rondo against the Bucks’ best players, which are guards Monte Ellis and Brandon Jennings. Look for the Celtics to cover -7.5 points today to get their first win.
Houston Rockets 1-0 at Atlanta Hawks 0-0
The revamped Rockets launched to a 1-0 start with a 105-96 win against Detroit thanks to a 37-point performance from newcomer James Harden. The Hawks will look for the same type of success in their home opener today.
Al Horford returns this year after being injured much of last season and Josh Smith should be just as good as always, so don’t expect the Hawks to be intimidated by the new Rockets squad. Atlanta also brought in some new pieces, like Kyle Korver and Lou Williams to add depth. However, I actually do like Houston in this one. It’s only been one game, but they look like a team that is gelling quickly and Harden may start off the year hot. Take Houston to cover +6 on the road here.
Miami Heat 1-0 at New York Knicks 0-0
The rivalry between these two squads was revitalized last season, as the Knicks had one of their better seasons in recent years. However, the Heat got the better of them last year and based on Miami’s opening night 120-107 win over Boston, they may get the better of them again.
Actually, let’s not play around. They will get the better of them. The Heat will be the outright favorite to defend their title, so expect them to cover -5.5 against the Knicks.
Sacramento Kings 0-1 at Minnesota Timberwolves 0-0
There was a damper put on Minnesota’s promising young squad and young season as star Kevin Love went down with a broken hand. He now joins Ricky Rubio on the injured list and they will have to watch and hope that their T-Wolves can hang on until they return.
The Kings are also still a young team looking to build something great, but that is far from happening as of now. With the T-Wolves at home and with new veteran leadership from the likes of Brandon Roy, look for Minnesota to start the season with a win by covering -3 points against the Kings.