Happy Tuesday. There were nine games last night in what ended up being a pretty exciting slate. The Nets got back on track, the Bucks rolled, the Celtics came up clutch to outlast the Hornets, the Bulls moved to 4-0, and the Cavs won in Denver before the Clippers blew out the Trail Blazers. Tonight we have five games with some good match-ups mixed in. Before we get to today’s plays, let’s go through some thoughts on yesterday’s games.
- That was a really good win for the Celtics, coming back late when it seemed the Hornets had control. Tatum was great with 41 points, 8 assists, and 7 boards. Jaylen Brown has now scored 30+ twice in his three games. Schroder produced last night as well with 23, 8, and 6. It was a strong showing against a good Hornets team that played well for most of the night before things fell apart late.
- Giannis and Khris Middleton combined for 57 points, 16 assists, and 15 boards in a comfortable Bucks win. They did it against a solid Pacers team, and they did it without Jrue Holiday, Brook Lopez, Bobby Portis, Donte DiVincenzo, and Semi Ojeleye. Rodney Hood made his debut, scoring 3 points in 10 minutes, but this was a reminder of the power of Milwaukee’s two stars. The Bucks are 3-1 against the Nets, Pacers, Spurs, and Heat despite getting one game from Lopez, two games from Holiday, and zero games from Portis, DiVincenzo, and Ojeleye. Impressive stuff.
- The Nets dominated the first quarter, and that was all they needed in a bounce back win over the Wizards. Patty Mills dropped 21 for the second time this season, and KD led the way with 25. Brooklyn is going to be fine in the grand scheme of things. The questions about their depth, defense, and reliance on Durant won’t be answered until much later in the year.
- The Hawks did what they were supposed to do in rolling a Pistons team without Jerami Grant and Cade Cunningham. Between now and mid-November, they play the Warriors, Suns, Bucks, Nuggets, Jazz (2X), Sixers, Nets, and Wizards (2X), so this should be a telling stretch as far as Atlanta’s seeding aspirations go. Can they separate from the pack and push the East’s top three? They also play the Pelicans in their next game.
- The Bulls almost threw it away multiple times (literally in some cases), but they managed to hold on in Toronto and get that fourth win in four tries. DeMar was stone cold down the stretch. The Bulls are good, but now we begin to find out how good. After four games against the Siakam-less Raps, the Cade-less Pistons, and the Zion-less Pels, their next fourteen come against teams that were in the playoffs or the play-in (Warriors and Pacers) last year.
- As for the Raptors, they’ve been competitive despite Siakam’s absence. They’re 1-3, but that’s what tends to happen when you play a tough stretch without your best player. They might just prove me wrong this year and make a run at a play-in spot.
- The Heat blew out a bad Magic team, so props to them for taking care of business. Jimmy Butler had 36. Miami looks pretty good through three games. Not much else to say here.
- The Pelicans finally got in the win column in Minnesota, fueled by big games from Brandon Ingram (27 points), Jonas Valanciunas (23 and 22), and Devonte’ Graham and Nickeil Alexander-Walker (38 points, 10 assists, 10 boards combined). Those four have scored more than 78% of New Orleans’s points so far this season. The Pels need Josh Hart and, more importantly, Zion back to fuel an anemic offense. Hart should be back any game now, and Williamson is due for some new scans this week based on what the Pelicans said two weeks ago.
- For Minnesota, you’re hoping to score more than 100 points, which they’ve now failed to do twice in a row. They did beat the Pelicans with 96 the other day, but they likely don’t have the defense to win that way. Only 1 of their 23 wins last year came with them scoring less than 100, and they were 1-10 when that was the case. They were also 4-18 when scoring 105 or less, which was a good 13-14% below their season winning percentage. Do some quick math, and Minnesota was a respectable 18-21 when scoring 106 or more points. They need to score.
- The Cavs look pretty solid so far. A play-in spot would still be a fantastic finish that doesn’t look all that likely right now, but this does look like a team that will separate from the very bottom of the league. Jarrett Allen was very good last night, and we got a big-time Kevin Love sighting with 22 off the bench. Winning in Denver isn’t easy, especially when Jokic drops 24 and 19. Props to the Cavs.
- The Clippers got their first win by throttling the Blazers, who look a little iffy so far. Why do they look iffy? Probably because Damian Lillard has yet to top 20 points in a game and is shooting 2-24 from three and 18-50 from the field. His career body of work suggests that will change soon, but it’s a brutal start, especially considering the timing of this coinciding with his highly questionable placement on the NBA 75 team. In better news, CJ McCollum is still killing it; he’s now scored 20+ in all three games.
NBA record: 14-5 ATS, 2-1 Underdog ML, 3-1-1 O/U
The Clips and Blazers killed our undefeated run on totals, but it was still a solid 3-2 day overall yesterday. I don’t love the board tonight, but I do like these two plays.
- Warriors -9
The opponents of the Thunder and Magic are automatic bets right now, especially when that opponent is 3-0 and coming off a 12-point win in Sacramento.
- Jazz Nuggets U218.5
The Nuggets are playing the second game of a back-to-back, Utah is very stingy, and neither team has scored more than 110 points in a game so far. I like the under.