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NBA Betting Roadmap, Week 1

   by Al McMordie - 10/24/2016

The NBA season starts with a bang on Tuesday, as the league's three best teams (Warriors, Spurs, Cavaliers) are in action. Even better: two of those teams (Warriors, Spurs) play each other in the nightcap on TNT Television. In this, our first issue of our 2016-17 Betting Roadmap series, we'll focus on the league's top three title contenders. And each week our Roadmap will guide you profitably through the NBA season.

Spread Watch

The Golden State Warriors made the biggest Free Agent signing of this year (and, perhaps, any year) when they inked Kevin Durant to a 2-year contract (with a player option after the first year). Golden State has now compiled the best team in NBA history, as it has two of the top four, and four of the top 14 players in the entire league. Last season, Durant, Steph Curry and Draymond Green all ranked amongst the eight best players in ESPN's Real Plus-Minus. Klay Thompson, though not in the top eight, still was 3rd Team All-NBA last year, and had an 18.67 PER. And if that weren't daunting enough for the rest of the league, then consider that all four of the Warriors' superstars are in the prime of their careers. It's not unreasonable to think the Warriors will win the NBA Championship each of the next five years. And I personally believe they will go 16-0 in this year's Playoffs (the Warriors, at -130 odds to win the Title is a fantastic bet). Of course, for our individual game betting purposes, the Warriors are likely to be over-valued early in the season. Indeed, they went 6-1 in the Preseason, but were just 1-4-2 ATS. This week, the Warriors will open the season at home vs. the Spurs (and have been installed as an 8.5-point favorite), and then finish the week with road games at New Orleans and Phoenix. Of the three games, I feel the middle game against the Pelicans will be the best opportunity to play on Golden State. It will have had two days off following its season-opener, and the Warriors are 54-21 SU and 48-26-1 ATS when playing with at least two days of rest. Additionally, Golden State won and covered all three games vs. New Orleans last season, and are 26-8-1 ATS the last 35 regular season meetings vs. New Orleans!

Total Watch

The Tom Thibodeau-era is underway in Minnesota. And make no mistake about it. He will transform the Timberwolves into one of the league's best defensive teams (just as he did with the Chicago Bulls, after taking over for Vinny Del Negro). Indeed, in his first regular season with the Bulls, they went 'under' the total 48-34. And most of the profit was made early in the season, as 21 of the Bulls' first 31 games in 2010 went 'under' the total. Don't be surprised if the Timberwolves have a similar experience this season. In the Preseason, Minnesota went 'under' in six of its seven games (including each of the last six). This week, the T-Wolves will play road games at Memphis and Sacramento, and each of those games is a solid candidate to be low-scoring. Last season, Memphis ranked in the bottom 10 in offense, and top 10 in defense. Meanwhile, all four of the Minnesota/Sacramento games last season went 'under' the total.

Injury Watch

The San Antonio Spurs will be without SG Danny Green for the first 10 games of the season, as he suffered a strained quadriceps injury last week. Though Green shot 10% below his career average last season (30.1% from long distance), he improved greatly in the Playoffs (24-for-48, 50%). And he had surgery to correct a vision impairment issue in the off-season. Notwithstanding his shooting woes last year, Green is an invaluable defender (perhaps the league's best in transition defense), and ranked #1 among shooting guards last season in ESPN's Real Plus-Minus defensive rating. So, he will be sorely missed the next few weeks. The Spurs won a franchise-best 67 games last season, and had one of the best defensive seasons in NBA history, but should drop off significantly this year. Besides being without Green early on, the Spurs suffered major losses on their frontline. Defensive stalwart Tim Duncan retired, Boris Diaw was traded to Utah, and free agents David West and Boban Marjanovic signed with Golden State and Detroit, respectively. This week, the Spurs will be challenged with four games in six days, including a road game at Golden State on Tuesday, and a road game at Miami on Sunday, when the Spurs will be playing without rest vs. a rested Heat squad. Last season, the Spurs went 2-6 ATS their last eight games when playing without rest vs. a rested foe, so the game at Miami could prove to be difficult.

Schedule Watch

This Tuesday will be an historic day in Cleveland. Not only will the Indians be playing in the World Series for the first time since 1997 (the first time ever that Game 1 of the World Series will be played in Cleveland), but the Cavaliers will open their season at home vs. New York, raise their Championship banner, and accept their rings. A lot of bettors like to go against the defending NBA Champion on its Ring Ceremony night, but that situation has been a 50-50 proposition over the years (NBA Champs are 13-12 ATS since 1991). Instead, I prefer to fade such teams on the road in their 2nd game, and especially if they're matched up against an opponent that isn't off a straight-up loss, as our Champs are 1-8 ATS in that situation since 1991. And that very well could be the case on Friday, when the Cavaliers will travel to Toronto (check Toronto's result vs. Detroit on Wednesday). Even better: the Raptors will be playing with revenge from a 4-2 series loss last year in the Eastern Conference Finals. Good luck, as always...Al McMordie. And don't miss any of my NBA winners. I'm 219-160 my last 379 Basketball releases, and the 1st week of the NBA is one of the very best betting weeks of the year, so join for a week or month today to get all of my award-winning selections.

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