The first weekend of the NBA season is a busy one, with 20 matches spread across Saturday and Sunday.
While every team in the league has now played at least one game, a few of the bigger sides have made less than ideal starts.
With the Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers both among the sides going 0-2 to start the new campaign, the pressure is on them to get a win this weekend.
|What||NBA Season 2022/23|
|Where||USA and Canada|
|When||October 18th 2022 - June 2023|
|How to watch||Sky Sports, NBA Pass, bet365's Sports Live Streaming|
|Odds||GS Warriors +600, BOS Celtics +600, MIL Bucks +650, LA Clippers +650, BKN Nets +750|
The Sixers have had one of the toughest possible starts to the season, having faced the Boston Celtics and Milwaukee Bucks. While there’s no shame in losing to two title contenders, the Sixers should have concerns after their performances.
They looked more dangerous with star man Joel Embiid off the floor, while James Harden is putting up the numbers which keep them in games, with the former Brooklyn Nets guard averaging 33 points, eight rebounds and eight assists across his first two games.
The Sixers are -1000 in Saturday’s opening game at home to the San Antonio Spurs. However, the Spurs have had two high-scoring clashes so far including a 137-134 win on Friday night, so they could cause the Sixers some problems too.
At the top of the East, the Celtics are -300 to continue their perfect start when they head to the Orlando Magic. Later that night the Milwaukee Bucks host the Houston Rockets, with the 2021 champions favoured by 13 points on the spread.
Two of the most intriguing clashes on Saturday are between some of the East’s second-tier sides. Both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls are considered to be a rung below the Bucks, Celtics and Sixers. The Cavs are a +1400 shot to win the East, while the Bulls are +2500.
However, the pair have already shown they have the talent to compete this term. The Bulls were impressive in their win at the Miami Heat, with two of their starters missing in that victory. The Cavs were shaded out in Toronto by the Raptors, but new addition Donovan Mitchell posted 31 points in the defeat.
The East is shaping up to have some close clashes this term and this is among them, with the Cavs -125 against the +105 Bulls.
Elsewhere, the Heat have lost their first two and look set for a slide in the East this term. They are -150 at home to the Raptors, who narrowly lost at the Nets on Friday night.
With the Heat looking sloppy defensively across their opening two, this could be a huge night for Raptors star Pascal Siakam. He recorded 37-points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists for a triple-double against the Nets, so expect him to put on a show in South Beach.
Sunday night’s featured game sees the Portland Trail Blazers head to LA to face the 0-2 Lakers. LeBron James has averaged 25 points across their opening defeats by the Golden State Warriors and LA Clippers.
The Lakers look like a real mess right now, with their front office getting heavily criticised for the roster they’ve built. Russell Westbrook remains on the roster and his dismal two-point display against the Clippers shows how much of a mess the Lakers remain.
It’s not a given that the Lakers bounce back, as they meet a Portland side who have won their opening two, with Dame Lillard averaging 30.5 points per game across those victories.
Sunday’s final game is between two top sides in the West, with two of the top three in the Conference betting going head to head. The Phoenix Suns head to the Clippers, with both sides shaping up to be title contenders.
The Clippers also head to the Kings on Sunday night and given their injury concerns last season it’s likely they will rest top stars in one game or the other. However, they’ll hopefully go all out against the Suns, who have a point to prove after an overtime loss to Portland on Friday.
Elsewhere, spare a thought for the Kings who face the Clippers and Warriors back-to-back this weekend. The Cavs and Spurs are also on back-to-back duty, meeting the Washington Wizards and New Orleans Pelicans respectively.Safer Gambling Week (17-23 October) – Let’s talk about safer gambling. Click here for more information on independent resources. Gamble Responsibly.