76ers at Celtics: Odds, Preview, and Predictions
After four long months, the NBA is back today with a couple of great matchups on TNT as the Boston Celtics host the Philadelphia 76ers in a battle that could be an eastern conference finals preview. The sentiment on these teams has gone in completely opposite directions, the Celtics front office and coaching staff have been in the headlines recently for all the wrong reasons while the Sixers have a growing optimism with organizational stability and a James Harden that appears to be in great shape coming into the season.
The Celtics had an impressive 2021-2022 season but couldn’t finish the job out in the finals. The Warriors health, depth, and experience proved to be too much to overcome, and the Celtics addressed those depth concerns in the offseason by adding Blak Griffin, Danillo Gallanari, and Malcom Brogdon. That excitement waned quickly and injuries started piling up after Gallo tore his ACL in the FIBA world cup, and Timelord underwent surgery on the knee that bothered him in the playoffs. Shortly thereafter coach Ime Udoka was involved in a scandal that resulted in his suspension for the entire season, leaving interim coach Joe Mazzulla at the helm.
The Sixers season ended in disappointment in the playoffs last season. James Harden wasn’t his usual superstar self but it seems he has recommitted to getting in better shape and I’m optimistic that he can regain his prior form. Tyrese Maxey thrived last season in the starting lineup and his star is on the rise, I expect another big season from him. The Sixers had some of their own acquisitions with PJ Tucker, DeAnthony Melton, and Montrezl Harrell. I think these are great acquisitions that will add depth, spacing and energy off the bench.
Pick: Sixers +2 -110
The Sixers had a sneaky good offseason in my opinion, the pickups of PJ Tucker, DeAnthony Melton, and Montrezl Harrell add great toughness and depth to a sixers team that is pretty loaded in the starting five with Harden, Maxey, and Embiid. The Celtics have had some pretty good pickups themselves but I think the losses of Robert Williams on the court and Ime Udoka’s coaching will prove to be too much for the Celtics to overtime right now.
Lakers at Warriors: Odds, Preview, and Predictions:
The other matchup in tonight’s doubleheader takes us out west where the Lakers start the season on the road at Golden State. These two teams were polar opposites last year with the Warriors winning the title and the Lakers missing the playoffs altogether. The Lakers still have LeBron and Anthony Davis though, and if you have those two guys healthy and locked in you always have a shot.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers have had plenty of time to prepare for this game since they were home for the playoffs. Their roster last year was old, poorly constructed, and a bad fit for their coaching staff. They moved off Talen Horton-Tucker in the offseason and brought in Patrick Beverly from the Jazz, they also acquired Lonnie Walker, Juan Toscano-Anderson, Thomas Bryant and Damien Jones. While that roster isn’t phenomenal by any stretch it can’t be worse than what they were trotting out last year. Rookie head coach Darvin Ham was also the best coaching candidate on the market this offseason and I have faith he will do a good job with this team.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors have made splashes with huge extensions for both Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins, but they lost a few key players from their Championship run. The Warriors lost Gary Payton II, Otto Porter Jr., Nemanja Bjelica, Damion Lee, and Juan Toscano-Anderson but replaced them with Donte DiVincenzo and JaMychal, Green while James Wiseman has returned from injury. They still have some gelling to do, but this team is excellent once again. The only thing that can derail this team is itself and there is a non-zero chance that happens this year with some locker room dissension between Draymond Green and Jordan Poole, culminating in the punch from a couple of weeks ago.
Pick: Lakers +7 -110
The Lakers had a season to forget last year, but with the Warriors adjusting their rotations, there’s too much in flux to justify backing the reigning champs. I’ll grab the points and trust LeBron and Anthony Davis in a primetime spot to keep it within two possessions. I think this will be a statement game by the Lakers to signal to the league they are back and you should take them seriously as contenders once again.