Mike & Jason preview the 20-21 NBA season on this episode of the Hoop Heads Pod. They rank the teams 1-15 in both the Eastern and Western Conference and make their championship predictions. They also hit on the MVP race and Giannis signing the SuperMax with the Bucks.
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NBA Opening Night Preview
The league has express delivered us a brand new NBA season! Instead of starting sometime in January, we get Christmas Day games in 2020!
Ok. So, we are not covering the five amazing Christmas games, but we’ll list them below at the bottom of the article. What we are here to discuss is the two matchups that we’ll see on opening night.
When is NBA Opening Night?
The 2020-2021 NBA season tips off on December 22nd at 7:00 PM ET on TNT with the Golden State Warriors hitting the hardwood against the Brooklyn Nets. Later on, the Lakers play the Clippers in Los Angeles at 10:00 PM ET, also on TNT.
Golden State Warriors vs. Brooklyn Nets
The Golden State Warriors went from the league’s most elite team to pretty much the worst in the bunch. But now, the NBA lines show the Warriors to be a contender once more. Sites like Bovada have them all the way down at +600. Meanwhile, Bookmaker has the Nets at +640, now that Brooklyn has a healthy Kevin Durant returning.
This is going to be a wonderful game to watch. Kevin Durant along with an all-star cast of supporting characters, Kyrie Irving, Zach Lavine, and DeAndre Jordan, will host his former championship team.
Last year, the GSWs were laden with injuries. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson both miss the bulk of the season. Draymond Green will be efficient on offense once again, now that Steph and Klay are back. Most people think of him as a defensive player (which he is), but really, it’s the combination of letting Green drive the lane with Klay on the wing and Curry offset –usually on the perimeter to the left. Green can pull the defense in, and then kick the ball out to either Steph or Klay, or even lob it over to the center on the baseline.
Yes, the #Warriors lost one half of the Splash Brothers when Klay Thompson got hurt. And yes, Kevin Durant isn’t around to pick up any slack or help out Steph Curry and company.— The Swing of Things (@SOTSports) December 4, 2020
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I would pull up matchup stats from last season, but there is no point. The Nets were without perhaps the hardest to guard player in the NBA, and the Warriors were severely crippled. The numbers for these two teams between last season and this season are not going to look even remotely similar.
The opening point spread looks like the Nets will be around 5-point home favorites. That said, many computer models show the Warriors not only covering the number but winning outright as underdogs.
LA Clippers vs. LA Lakers
The Lakers and Clippers played tough ball against each other last season. So, Las Vegas bookmakers set the opening lines with the Lakers as just 2.5-point favorites. Since the teams are essentially the same, this is a case where we can compare last season’s stats.
The Clippers finished the season with a more productive offense. They average 115.99 points per game – we might as well call that 116. Conversely, the Lakers average 113.29 points per game. This is the difference between the No. 4 offense and No. 10 offense, respectively.
On the defensive side of the court, the Lakers are a couple of points better. They allow just 107.26 points per game (No. 3 in the league) against the Clippers’ No. 13 defense that allows 109.88. In many ways, the Clippers’ defense is actually better. They are No. 4 in FG %, No. 6 in 3 PT percentage, and No. 3 in Free Throws allowed. But their defensive rebounding is 15th, whereas the Lakers rank No. 1 in defensive rebounding.
In the last ten games, these two teams have split wins evenly. The Lakers have won two of the last three. But if we stretch back to October 22nd of 2019, the Clippers won that game, putting this series at 2-2 over the last four meetings.
Another thing to note is the fact that the Clippers are 7-0 against the spread when listed as the road team against the Lakers. They are also 14-6 ATS in December. Furthermore, they have something to prove, while the Lakers may have a bit of a championship hangover.
I am going to wait for that number to come up a little. Everybody will be pounding the champs’ side with money on the 2.5-point spread. I’ll wait until it hits 3.5 and then take the Clippers to cover the number.