Half of the problems for Brooklyn began when trading away Draft picks to the Boston Celtics who have taken a much more pragmatic approach to roster construction. They might have had the ‘Big Three’ before that became a popular way to describe the Miami Heat with LeBron, Wade and Bosh, but the Celtics have taken the slow rebuild approach which is beginning to pay dividends.
Al Horford has come in to give Boston a little more star power and he does look like a good piece to bring in, while the Celtics have enough assets to perhaps make a big trade in-season. Marcus Smart looks like he will be missing in the season opener and likely for the rest of the week, but Boston have plenty of depth here and look like a genuine contender in the Eastern Conference if Horford and Isaiah Thomas can get on the same page.
They do look significantly better than the Brooklyn Nets who are holding onto Brook Lopez like their lives depend on it. I don’t think anyone would be surprised if Lopez is traded at some point this season but first he has to learn a new system as the Nets try to be competitive.
Brooklyn has some nice pieces, but depth is going to be a problem for them and Boston have the kind of Defensive shape that can make life difficult for them. However, I think the Nets might be getting too many points in this one with Boston perhaps looking beyond the home opener to the trip to the Chicago Bulls which comes on Thursday.
Covering double digit spreads has been something of a mixed bag for the Celtics and I can see Brooklyn having a run in the Fourth Quarter that sees them come within this number.
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Philadelphia 76ers – Wells Fargo Centre at 01:00
Kevin Durant has moved on and Russell Westbrook has told the media he is no longer going to talk about it as the Oklahoma City Thunder become his team. Westbrook has taken Durant’s decision pretty personally having felt disrespected in the manner in which he was told of the plans of his former brother in arms.
This could mean trouble for the rest of the NBA as Westbrook is likely to produce a huge season after signing an extended contract with the Thunder to everyone’s surprise. There is still some talent left over in Oklahoma City, but it is clear the loss of Durant might have taken away their chances of winning the NBA Championship at least for this season.
Serge Ibaka is another player who has moved on and the Thunder open their season with some questions about what to expect from them. This still looks like a Play-off team in the Western Conference, but I think most would be absolutely stunned if they were in the Western Conference Finals let alone in a 3-1 lead over the Golden State Warriors like they were in May 2015.
Oklahoma City can erase some of the concerns that this squad is going to collapse in the face of Durant’s exit by winning at the awful Philadelphia 76ers in their opening game of the season. The 76ers might be loaded with top picks, but there doesn’t seem to be a game plan as to how to get this roster moving forward which has also seen some of their players irritated by what they perceive as hoarding in one position and finding no balance.
Nerlens Noel has spoken about having three potential starting Centers on the roster, but two of those won’t be playing in the opener including Noel. The 76ers will also be missing their Number 1 Draft Pick Ben Simmons for a few weeks and I think this team will need time but are more likely to be amongst the leading lottery teams again.
This feels a chance for Westbrook to prove that the Thunder are far from done just because Durant has left the club. The Thunder have a 5-2 record against the spread in their last seven in Philadelphia and I can see Oklahoma City just pulling away in the second half to record a win by double digits.
Prices correct at time of writing.