How to Bet on NBA Opening Night 2018

by Taylor Smith
on October 16, 2018

Minute Read

You did it! Congratulations! Give yourself a little pat on the back. Yep, you’ve managed to make it through another NBA offseason. Yes, the regular season has finally arrived.

the NBA will kick off its 2018-19 festivities with an interesting 2-game slate on Tuesday night. The first matchup pits a couple of Eastern Conference contenders against one another with the Philadelphia 76ers traveling to Boston to take on Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and the Celtics. Then, the 2-time defending champion Golden State Warriors will host what looks to be a hobbled version of the Oklahoma City Thunder in the nightcap.

Fortunately, betting on the NBA’s regular season tends to be an easier proposition than doing so during the preseason. Having just 2 games on the schedule is a bit of a bummer from a betting point of view, but you can still get in on some action ahead of Wednesday’s hefty 11-game schedule. Here are some bets I’m liking ahead of Tuesday’s doubleheader.

Oklahoma City Thunder (+11) at Golden State Warriors (-11)

The Celtics-Sixers game is a tough one to peg from a betting perspective. The second game looks a little bit more predictable. As of this writing, the Dubs check in as 11-point favorites at home against Oklahoma City. The lone Warriors on the injury report are Draymond Green and Shaun Livingston, both of whom are listed as probable. Green has a sore knee while Livingston is dealing with a hip issue. The Thunder, though, will be without former MVP Russell Westbrook, who is still recovering from an offseason knee procedure. Terrance Ferguson, Abdel Nader and Alex Abrines are each listed as probable with minor injuries of their own.

Obviously, the Thunder playing without Westbrook is huge. He essentially led the team to a playoff berth by himself 2 seasons ago, and he has averaged a triple-double in 2 consecutive campaigns. He’s kind of a big deal for OKC. Westbrook has also played in at least 80 games in 3 straight seasons, though that streak is very much in jeopardy given his current status.

With Westbrook sitting, newcomer Dennis Schroder will presumably start in his spot. The former Atlanta Hawk joined the Thunder via trade during the summer. The German averaged a career-high 19.4 points per game last season in Atlanta, though he also shot just 29 percent from 3-point range. He isn’t nearly as explosive as Westbrook is athletically, but Schroder is similar in that he likes to do most of his offensive damage inside the arc. It will be interesting to see how he adjusts to playing for a presumed contender. He has spent the last few years toiling away with a terrible Hawks team where he was essentially the offensive focal point. With the Thunder, he is going to have to take something of a back seat on offense with guys like Westbrook and Paul George around.

I probably don’t need to sell you on the Warriors. Golden State steamrolled the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, and they’ll be hungry to try and threepeat this year. The team’s big splash over the offseason was the signing of All-Star big man DeMarcus Cousins. The Warriors will now have 5 All-Stars in the starting lineup, which is absurd. Of course, Cousins did rupture his Achilles halfway through last season with the Pelicans, and he’s not yet ready to return to the floor. We are unlikely to see him in uniform for Golden State until around January, so Jordan Bell, Damian Jones or Kevon Looney is likely to slide in as the starter until then.

It almost doesn’t matter who starts at center for the Warriors. Last year, Zaza Pachulia and JaVale McGee essentially split the duties. Having Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Draymond Green tends to render the fifth starter somewhat meaningless, especially offensively.

Frankly, I don’t see how the Thunder can keep up with the Warriors, especially without Westbrook out there. The Thunder played them tough last year, but I’m expecting them to struggle on the offensive end of the floor. Golden State is a well-oiled machine and I think they’ll be ready to avoid a letdown after losing on ring night last year at the hands of the Houston Rockets. This one could get out of hand in a hurry, so I like the Warriors to cover the 11-point spread. That’s a hefty spread for the NBA, but Golden State is more than capable of breezing through this game.

The Bet: Warriors -11

Joel Embiid Total Points and Rebounds

  • Over 22.5 -115
  • Under 22.5 -115
  • Over 11.5 rebounds -135
  • Under 11.5 rebounds +100

Perhaps the biggest advantage the Sixers have over their rivals in this one will be Joel Embiid. Al Horford is one of the best defensive centers in the game, but he’s a bit undersized for his position. Needless to say, Embiid is not undersized. Embiid is listed at 7 feet tall, but that may be underselling him a bit. The dude is an absolute behemoth out there.

The Celtics and Sixers squared off plenty last season. Boston took 3 of 4 from Philly during the regular season before knocking the 76ers out of the playoffs in the second round. Embiid struggled offensively over the course of his 3 regular season meetings with Horford. The former Kansas Jayhawk averaged 17.3 points in those meetings against the Celtics, which is down quite a bit from his season-long scoring average of 22.9. Embiid also shot about 38 percent from the floor against the Celtics. On the season, Embiid shot over 48 percent from the field.

Embiid scored at least 20 points in all 4 of Philly’s preseason games despite not seeing more than 28 minutes in any of them. He also scored at least 22 points in 3 of the 5 postseason meetings between the teams last spring. Still only 24, it’s safe to say we can expect some improvement out of the big man this season. The Celtics were a team that really struggled on the glass last season, and there is little reason to believe that will suddenly become a strength this year. Embiid should coast to a double-double in this one, and I think he goes over 22 ½ points in the process.

I also think he’ll feast on the glass. He grabbed at least 12 caroms in each of the 5 playoff games against the Celts during the playoffs while also averaging better than 13 rebounds against Horford and co. during the regular season. The betting odds bear it out by listing the over at -135, but I think taking the over on 11 ½ boards for Embiid is a pretty easy call in this one.

The Bet: Over 22 ½ points, Over 11 ½ rebounds

Stephen Curry Total Turnovers

  • Over 2.5 -130
  • Under 2.5 +100

Nobody doubts the greatness of Stephen Curry. The guy is only 30 years old yet he is already seventh on the all-time list for 3-pointers made in the NBA. Assuming he stays healthy, he should have little issue rising all the way to the top of the list. His resume is already Hall of Fame caliber, and it’s buoyed by a pair of MVP awards as well as 3 championship rings (and counting).

Of course, nobody’s perfect. If there is one flaw in Curry’s offensive game it’s that he can sometimes be a little too casual with the ball. Look no further than this highly unnecessary behind-the-back pass that landed out of bounds during Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals. This play would play no small role in the Warriors’ collapse and eventual defeat at the hands of the Cavaliers.

First and foremost, the NBA is an entertainment product. Curry knows this. Flashy plays are fun, so he likes doing fun things. Who can blame him? That said, sometimes flashy plays go haywire and become turnovers. Point guards tend to be more turnover prone than players at other positions because they have the ball in their hands more often than, say, a power forward. Steph has averaged 3.2 turnovers per game over the course of his career. His worst year in that department came back in the 2013-14 campaign when he averaged 3.8 giveaways per game.

The Thunder being without Andre Roberson tonight is important because that means OKC’s best wing defender won’t be available. Even so, 2 ½ is a pretty low total for turnovers. Curry averaged 3.7 turnovers per game in 3 games against the Thunder last season. This is also the first game of the season, so there could be plenty of rust on both sides of this game. Sloppy play may be a theme here tonight. Take the over on Curry coughing the ball up 2 ½ times.

The Bet: Over 2 ½ turnovers

Dennis Schroder Total 3-pointers

  • Over 1.5 +120
  • Under 1.5 -160

The Thunder officially announced on Tuesday afternoon that Russell Westbrook will miss the season opener, which presumably means Dennis Schroder will slide into the starting lineup in his place. Schroder made 1 3-pointer in 3 of OKC’s preseason games, while hitting 2 in another. I mentioned previously that this guy shot just 29 percent from beyond the arc a season ago. For his career, Schroder has connected on 32 percent of his triple tries.

This is going to be a pace-up game for the Thunder, as the Warriors like to get out and run. That means more possessions for OKC, which naturally lends itself to more shooting opportunities for high-usage options like Schroder. However, I have also said that I think this game will turn into a blowout with the Warriors winning fairly easily. That could lead to less minutes for the Thunder starters in this one, Schroder included. It’s worth mentioning.

Schroder could have always improved his 3-point stroke during the offseason, but that’s not something I’m going to be banking on. Guards like him that come into the league as subpar shooters tend to stay subpar shooters, with a few exceptions. I don’t doubt that Schroder will be chucking tonight, but I’m not expecting a whole lot of success. As a result, I’ll bet the under on 1 ½ makes for the OKC point guard from deep in this one.

The Bet: Under 1 ½ made 3-pointers
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