NBA Wednesday: O'Sullivan picks Bulls vs Pistons, 76ers vs Pelicans, Magic vs Spurs, Kings vs Blazers, 3 more
Not the start I wanted, but we’ve got a long way to go. Note: my editors claim they’re unable to handle calculating the math of “betting units,” so I’m going to list actual wager amounts based on what my betting units are. Kicking off the season, my bankroll is $1,000 and my single unit is $10. Adjust your bets accordingly. Further note: my editors claim I’ll exhaust myself if I try to pick every single game, as I did with the WNBA, so don’t expect a full slate each day. But I’ll never stop trying to give you, my readers, a wealth of choices. Never.
Seattle O’Sullivan 2021-2022 NBA Season so far: 0-2, -$26.60
Chicago Bulls at Detroit Pistons, 7 pm Eastern
The Pick: Detroit +176, bet $6 to win $10.56.
Strictly a value “home dog” pick. Detroit is rebuilding from scratch, basically, and their #1 draft pick Cade Cunningham will not play due to an ankle injury. But Detroit isn’t that bad at home; 13-23 last season. Also, I’m not sure why anyone’s excited about Chicago. Again, this is a pick based solely on the value offered. Part of me wants to break out my "value picks" and "measured risks" in my official record...but perhaps that's a bit obsessive. So I'll refrain. But let's understand each other.
Houston Rockets at Minnesota Timberwolves, 8 pm Eastern
The Pick: Minnesota -230, bet $26 to win $11.30; Minnesota -5.5 (-110), bet: $5.50 to win $5.
Houston finished with the NBA’s worst record last season. Minnesota wasn’t much better, but they added an exceptional coach, Chris Finch, who improved the team immediately upon his hire in February. Timberwolves center Karl Anthony-Towns and forward Anthony Edwards led their team to a post-All-Star break rise, finishing a respectable 16-20 with an offensive rating of 112.8 (14th best in the league). Edwards averaged 23.6 points per game in the final 36 games, and should only get better with a year under his belt. Minnesota could be in contention for a playoff spot this year; Houston will not. The Rockets are in rebuilding mode. Look for Minnesota to start the season strong. Eat the moneyline for dinner, savor the sweet, sweet cover for dessert.
Philadelphia 76ers at New Orleans Pelicans, 8 pm Eastern
The Pick: New Orleans +3.5, bet $5.50 to win $5; New Orleans +140, bet $3.50 to win $5.32
Another value pick. New Orleans is a home dog and Philadelphia is in a ridiculous pissing match with petulant child Ben Simmons. Poor Ben got thrown out of practice yesterday and his excuse was he’s “not mentally ready to play.” Isn’t that, y'know, what practice is actually for? To get ready to play? My Lord. New Orleans isn’t much more functional, and Pelican supernova (and future free-agent escapee) Zion Williamson is out, but the price is tasty enough to put a little down and bank on the Sixers not being in sync.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Memphis Grizzlies, 8 pm Eastern
The Pick: Memphis -300, bet $15.50 to win $5.17; Memphis -7.5 (-110), bet: $5.50 to win $5.
Similar to Houston/Minnesota, this matchup pits a potential playoff team playing at home against a team rebuilding. The Grizzlies are without Dillon Brooks, who has a broken hand, but they should be able to overcome it. Memphis ranked 14th in total score offense last season while Cleveland was 30th, dead-last. The Grizzlies scored 10 more points per game than the Cavaliers, and guard Ja Morant is by the far the best player who’ll be playing. He’ll rise above the absence of Brooks for a Memphis cover.
Orlando Magic at San Antonio Spurs, 8:30 pm Eastern
The Pick: San Antonio -260, bet $18.50 to win $7.12
Orlando is terrible and will be missing several players tonight. This is rumored to be San Antonio’s coach Gregg Popovich’s last season. If it is, I don’t think he’s going to be interested in losing games his teams should win at home. Once a team’s moneyline price gets more expensive than -300, I start thinking about value, but short of that, I try to accumulate low fruit when I can. This game is one of those times. It's an orange on a branch at eye level, and I'ma grab it. ('Simpsons' voice) Yoink!
Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz, 9 pm Eastern
The Pick: Utah -900, bet $19.00 to win $2.11
Even though the price here is steep, it’s still value based on the statistics. Opening night, a championship contender at home against a team seemingly concerned only with amassing draft picks. I won’t put too much down so as not to get burned, but I’ll take a small apple on the grass as I go…Yoink!
Sacramento Kings at Portland Trail Blazers, 10 pm Eastern
The Pick: Portland -220, Bet: $33 to win $15; Portland -5 (-110), Bet $11 to win $10
After an off-season where it looked like he might go elsewhere, Portland star Damian Lillard stayed right where he was. Regardless of whether or not his claims to want to remain with the Trail Blazers are genuine, Lillard is one of the most motivated players in the league, so he’ll use either the need to thank Portland or his desire to stick it in their faces, as fuel. So I expect him to have another great season where he drags Portland further than they ought to go. Sacramento, on the other hand, just had the agent for one of its disappointing players, Marvin Bagley III, whine yesterday that they should’ve traded his client. For whatever it’s worth, Portland is functional, while Sacramento is not. Again, this early in the season, feel is more important than statistics. And it feels like it’s the same old Kings. Though if you want stats, the Trail Blazers ranked 12th in points per game scored last year, Sacramento 23rd. It’s another home opener, and I’ll take playoff teams opening at home against bad teams with agents whining. Take the money line for dinner, lay the points for dessert.