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Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons (25) drives to the net as Guangzhou Loong-Lions' Yongpeng Zhang defends and Philadelphia 76ers' Tobias Harris, right, watches during the first half of an NBA exhibition basketball game Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia 76ers' Ben Simmons (25) drives to the net as Guangzhou Loong-Lions' Yongpeng Zhang defends and Philadelphia 76ers' Tobias Harris, right, watches during the first half of an NBA exhibition basketball game Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, in Philadelphia.|Matt Rourke | Associated Press
NBA

NBA: Greg Frank picks Celtics vs Sixers and Timberwolves vs Nets

Greg Frank

Greg Frank

Celtics (+6) @ Sixers (214)

Pick: Sixers 1Q -1.5

This is the tastiest matchup on the NBA card tonight as a rivalry is renewed in South Philadelphia. The Celtics pay a visit to Wells Fargo Center to open 2019-2020 and come in as a six-point pup on Wednesday night with Kemba Walker debuting in the shamrock green. Our play is on the atmosphere tonight in Philly more than anything else. The Eagles haven’t given the Philadelphia faithful much to cheer about this month and expectations are very high for the Sixers. It’s likely they sell out every game this season and the building will certainly be jumping tonight. We’re guessing the Sixers two franchise cornerstones, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, will be especially fired up to start the season. After last season ended in the playoffs in Toronto, there was constant chatter about Embiid needing to shed weight and show up to training camp in better shape. The lack of a jump shot came into focus for Simmons again as the biggest aspect of his game that needed to be better. Both players get a chance to show they’ve made the necessary improvements in front of a crowd that should be roaring right from the gate. We’ll take the Sixers to start hot here.

Timberwolves (+3.5) @ Nets (229.5)

Pick: Nets Team Total Under 116.5

Another point guard in the Atlantic division makes his debut with his new team tonight as Kyrie Irving plays his first regular season game for Brooklyn at Barclays Center. But the exploitable area here is the mismatch for Minnesota on the wings. Signing Kevin Durant filled a gaping hole for Brooklyn there, but Durant will not play in 2019-2020 recovering from a ruptured Achilles tendon. Minnesota probably won’t make the playoffs in the West this year, but the Wolves will defend pretty well on the wings. They have Robert Covington for the entire season now, 2018 first-round pick Josh Okogie showed signs of being an above average defender last season and should take a nice step forward this season and this year’s first-round pick, Jarrett Culver, is already a very polished wing defender. We’ve seen movement on the side here as Minnesota has been bet down to a 3.5-point dog from the opening number of five. If the Timberwolves are to hang around tonight, it’s probably because they’ll keep the Nets in check offensively, so we’ll take the Nets under their team total.

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