The second night of the NBA season tips off on Wednesday with 11 games on the slate.
Our Action Network NBA Staff has given their three best bets on the card, including the two on the 76ers and one on the Timberwolves. Check Action’s NBA odds page for up-to-the-minute lines at dozens of sportsbooks across the country, or learn how to bet on basketball first.
- Anderson: 76ers -3.5
- Dellera: 76ers -3.5
- Moore: T’Wolves -6
Brandon Anderson: Philadelphia and New Orleans are the two early candidates for disaster of the year.
The Sixers have been a Ben Simmons soap opera all offseason, really before the offseason even began (since it started when Simmons passed up that layup against the Hawks). That was the beginning of the end, or so it seemed, because we’re all stuck in the endless Groundhog’s Day news cycle of Simmons drama now.
Hours before the season tipped, news broke that Simmons had been suspended for the season opener. He refused to participate in a team drill and that was that. That news pushed this line down from -4.5 to -2.5, under a bucket now. (Editor’s note – the line has moved up to -3.5 at the time of publish.)
The problem is the Pelicans might be an even bigger stink bomb right now because Zion Williamson is nowhere near in playing shape. He looks weeks away at best, and he is this entire team right now.
Brandon Ingram is a fine player but doesn’t really move the needle, and Devonte’ Graham and Jonas Valanciunas are brand new and still acquitting themselves, and so is new head coach Willie Green.
The Sixers may be a mess, but they still have the best player on the court in Joel Embiid. As much as the Simmons drama could waylay the season, I think it will actually be a relief for Philly to just get out there on the court and play some ball. Embiid will do his thing, the Sixers will defend (something we can’t exactly say about New Orleans), and Philly will be the better team. They’re still among the NBA title favorites, after all.
I’m not sure Ben Simmons was worth two points to this team right now, and I know for a fact Zion is worth a whole lot of points to the Pels.
Joe Dellera: This line is a bit surprising to me. The Pelicans lost Lonzo Ball to free agency and are without their star big man, Zion Williamson. While Zion’s absence will be filled with Jonas Valanciunas, who is a talented big man in his own right, it’s still not Zion.
The line reached as high as 76ers -4.5 when Zion was ruled out, but with the news that Benjamin Simmons was suspended for “conduct detrimental to the team” (eye roll), the line has creeped back down to 76ers -3.
Last season, when Simmons missed and Embiid played, the 76ers were just 4-5, but the Pelicans were 2-9 without Zion. While Devonte’ Graham should have plenty of opportunity to lead the Pelicans’ offense with Brandon Ingram, the Pelicans’ offense was absolutely anemic last season without Zion (110.6 points/100 possessions – 39th percentile), per Cleaning the Glass.
Moreover, of the Pelicans’ top four offensive contributors last season (Ingram, Zion, Ball, and Steven Adams), only Ingram remains with the team.
The 76ers have an internal replacement for Simmons, and while Tyrese Maxey is not the defensive anchor that Simmons is, he is an effective facilitator. Additionally, the 76ers have the absolute menace that is Matisse Thybulle to be a disruptor on the defensive side of the ball.
Bet: The 76ers are deeper and are more capable of filling in for their missing star. I’ll back the better team on the road at -3.5 (PointsBet).
Matt Moore: Historical home opener favorites in the Wolves’ moneyline range (between -200 and -300) are 39-15 SU and 32-22 ATS (59%).
This number is pretty clearly based on last year’s figures. The Wolves have been way better under Chris Finch, and their preseason approach to play signals major improvements. Houston has a younger/less experienced roster.
This feels like a line that in two months would be closer to Wolves -7.5.
Bet: Timberwolves -6 (Unibet)