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NBA Opening Night: Joel Embiid and co. ship up to Boston; LeBron’s Lakers battle the champs

Unpacking some of the Draft Kings’ odds ahead of NBA’s opening night slate.

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Boston Celtics v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

We’re baaaaack....

Road warriors to kick off the year, Joel Embiid, James Harden, Tyrese Maxey and co. will make their season debut up in Boston. Then LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Lakers have the unenviable task of chasing Steph Curry and the Warriors around.

Sixers at Celtics (Boston -3, -165 at Draft Kings)

Boston Celtics v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images

A date with the reigning Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics isn’t exactly the easiest way to begin. In fact, it might be the most difficult. The Sixers have new players, some vital to their ultimate plans, having added P.J. Tucker, Danuel House Jr., and De’Anthony Melton this offseason, thanks to James Harden’s taking a big pay cut.

The Celtics return pretty much the same core with a few key additions like Malcolm Brogdon. The problem for them is they’ll be without their head coach from a year ago in Ime Udoka.

On a recent podcast our Sean Kennedy and I joked that it would’ve been nice to get a few games against the Charlotte Hornets under the Sixers’ belt before they had to battle with the likes of the Celtics, cream of the Eastern crop a year ago.

There will inevitably be some kinks to work out pairing Tucker next Tobias Harris on the wings, settling the backup center rotation (whether that be Montrezl Harrell or Paul read or both) and where De’Anthony Melton slides in (does he replace Danny Green?) The Sixers will probably need some time to figure these things out, but hopefully the offseason was enough.

The leprechaun group opens as three-point favorites on Draft Kings, implying to me there isn’t a huge edge in odds maker’s minds other than basically home-court advantage. If this one were played on neutral terrain, perhaps the spread would be closer to a pick.

The Celtics are -165 favorites to win the game, giving them an implied 62 percent chance to emerge undefeated.

The Celtics were the significantly better team a year ago and coming into this game likely a bit closer to full strength. The Sixers are not dealing with injuries, per se, but Joel Embiid underwent surgery on both hands last offseason, and having healed from a broken orbital bone in his face. P.J .Tucker had arthroscopic knee surgery and limped off the floor holding it a couple nights ago, and after a full offseason rehabbing the hamstring, we’ve yet to see what form James Harden is going to look like from the jump. Each key player might, at the very least, have a couple mental hurdles to clear before he hits his stride.

For these reasons if I were to bet on this game, I’d bet on the Celtics to cover. I don’t love the money line because I think this game is a little bit closer than 62 percent. So I think I’d just close my eyes and bet on the Celtics to cover the three. But so far the betting public disagrees, as 67 percent bets have come in on your Sixers to at least cover the spread.

For player props, I like Jayson Tatum’s over 23.5 points (+100) and James Harden over 2.5 triples (+150).

Lakers at Warriors (Golden State -6, M.L. -165)

NBA: MAR 05 Warriors at Lakers Photo by Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Next game on the slate figures to be a little bit more one-sided. The Golden State Warriors were the best team with the player of the year last season in Steph Curry. LeBron James’ Lakers have more to prove having finished just 33-49 last season. They’ve also missed the playoffs two of the four years The King has been in L.A.

Making matters more difficult for the yellow and purple is that Russell Westbrook is dealing with a hamstring injury. New coach Darvin Ham had his hands full trying to figure out how to make that work anyway, but he may have some more time to hit the tank with Russ not being quite right just yet.

To be honest, we’re not even sure who L.A. will start, but there are clues:

Could Lonnie Walker IV be the last starter?

For props, how can LeBron not total over 32.5 points + assists (-120)? I’m thinking he tallies 27 and 7 in his sleep on a national stage.

I’d bet the Warriors to win if I had to, but I’m not in love with the odds there, at -6. But a parlay on both the Sixers and Warriors to win Tuesday? That pays +237, and I could be talked into that one just for fun. Go Sixers!

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