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NBA Roadmap, Week 1

   by Al McMordie - 10/24/2015

The NBA season starts Tuesday, as three of the league's four semi-finalists from last season (Warriors, Cavaliers, Hawks) are in action. Each week, we'll provide you with a Betting Roadmap to guide you profitably through the NBA season. For week 1, we focus on four Western Conference contenders: Oklahoma City, Memphis, New Orleans and San Antonio. Also, if you like to wager on basketball, then be sure to join my NBA service today for Week 1, as the first week of the season ranks as one of the absolute best times to bet on hoops. Good luck, as always...Al McMordie.

Spread Watch

With Kevin Durant entering into the final year of his contract, this becomes the most critical year in the history of the Oklahoma City franchise. If the team underwhelms, then it might be the final season that Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka and Kevin Durant all play together. Certainly, Thunder GM Sam Presti understood this was a "must-win" season, so he replaced coach Scott Brooks with ex-Florida head coach, Billy Donovan. So far, so good. Oklahoma City went 5-1 in the preseason, and was 3-1-1 ATS, with one game (against Fenerbahce Ulker) not drawing a pointspread. Even better: OKC was tops in the NBA with a point differential of +12.2 ppg. Will OKC find similar success in the regular season? It gets tested right out of the gate, with a home game against the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday. But after that, the schedule lightens up, with a road game in Orlando on Friday, followed by a home date vs. Denver on Sunday. The Thunder are 6-2 SU/ATS their last eight regular season meetings against the Spurs; 4-1 SU and 4-0-1 ATS their last five vs. Denver; and 7-1 SU their last eight meetings with Orlando. A 3-0 start would not surprise.

Total Watch

The Memphis Grizzlies' "Grit-N-Grind" style is somewhat anachronistic in today's pace-and-space NBA. And, if there was any doubt that coach Dave Joerger was going to stay true to the Grizzlies' defensive identity, surely none remains after this preseason. Memphis went 6-1 SU and 4-2 ATS (its game against Maccabi Haifa was off the board), and outscored its opposition 88.9 to 81.0. Not surprisingly, all 6 of Memphis' lined games went 'under' the total. Last season, Memphis went 53-39-1 'under' the total, including 15-6 'under' its last 21. This season, Memphis opens with the Cleveland Cavaliers at home, on Wednesday (the Cavs went 'under' 59-42-1 last season). Next, Memphis will play the Pacers the following night in Indiana (57% of Grizzlies' games since Feb. 2001 have gone 'under' if both Memphis and its foe played without rest), before returning home to face Brooklyn on Saturday (nine of Memphis' last 12 vs. Brooklyn have gone 'under'). Given that Game 1s have a marked tendency to go 'under' the total (169-135, 55.6% since 1990), consider taking the Grizzlies + Cavs 'under' on Wednesday.

Injury Impact

Every team battles the injury bug, at some point. But the New Orleans Pelicans must feel snakebit right now. On Tuesday, point guard Tyreke Evans had arthroscopic knee surgery, which will put him on the shelf for upwards of two months. And Evans' injury was the latest in a slew of setbacks for New Orleans. Among the injured right now are starting center Omer Asik, forward Luke Babbitt, backup center Alexis Ajinca, guard Norris Cole, and swingman Quincy Pondexter. Throw in the fact that New Orleans has a new head coach, with Alvin Gentry coming over from the Warriors, and it's a recipe for a slow start out of the game for New Orleans. The Pelicans went 3-4 in the preseason, and were outscored by 3.7 ppg. They also went 2-4-1 ATS. Interestingly, New Orleans will play the defending champ, Golden State, twice this week, with a road game against Portland sandwiched, in between. The Pelicans are an awful 8-23-1 ATS their last 32 regular season meetings vs. the Warriors, and are 0-5 SU and 1-4 ATS their last five vs. Portland.

Playbook

No team had a better offseason than the San Antonio Spurs, which not only signed All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge (after jettisoning Tiago Splitter), but also plucked David West from the Free Agent pool for pennies on the dollar. However, with the influx of new talent often comes growing pains, as coaches must figure out how to integrate the new pieces into a cohesive whole, and players must learn each other's tendencies. So, it's not a total shock that San Antonio went 2-4 SU and ATS this preseason. Even worse for the Spurs: they averaged just 93.8 ppg on offense, an amount better than just three other teams (Atlanta, Dallas and Memphis). None of the Spurs' six games went 'over' the total. The good news is that the Spurs are coached by the best in the business, Gregg Popovich. And, to paraphrase something Coach Pop likes to say when his team is struggling on the court, "they'll figure it out." But by what date they figure it out is anyone's guess (shooting guard Danny Green stated he hopes it's by Christmas). This week, the Spurs will travel to Oklahoma City on Wednesday, then come home for a date with Brooklyn on Friday, before playing the Celtics Sunday afternoon, in Beantown. San Antone is 2-11 SU and ATS at OKC, so the Thunder will be worth a look in Game 1.

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