NBA Preview: The Trail Blazers are off and running out of the gate. They meet the “Greek Freak”, Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee Saturday night.
Portland Trail Blazers (2-0) at Milwaukee Bucks (1-1), Saturday, 8:30 p.m. EST
Line: Bucks -3.5. Total 214.5.
Portland is blazing out of the gates, scoring 238 points while only allowing 172 points. The Blazers average margin of victory through two games is 33. Portland dismantled The Suns, handing Phoenix their worst loss in team history on Wednesday, 124-76. The Blazers crushed Phoenix on the Sun’s home court without CJ McCollum, who was serving a one-game suspension from the league for leaving the bench during a scuffle during a preseason game in Phoenix.
Damian Lillard scored 27 points while adding 5 rebounds and 5 assists. Pat Connaughton came off the bench to score 24 points and Jusuf Nurkic had 11 points and 11 boards in just 23 minutes.
The Blazers traveled to Indiana Friday night, where they dispatched the Pacers 114-96. McCollum led all scorers with 28 points and 7 rebounds, while Lillard was next with 18 points, 7 boards and 7 assists. Al-Farouq Aminu had 16 points and 16 rebounds, while Evan Turner added 17 points off the bench.
Milwaukee had an impressive 108-100 win at Boston on Wednesday. The “Greek Freak”, Giannis Antetokounmpo had 37 points and 13 rebounds. Malcolm Brogdon scored 19 points, while Khris Middleton and Matthew Dellavedova added 15 points apiece for the Bucks.
The Bucks then went home to take on the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday. The Cavs won 116-97, as LeBron James led the way with 24 points, 8 assists and 5 boards.
Antetokounmpo has another huge game for Milwaukee, scoring 34 points, grabbing 8 rebounds and dishing out 8 assists. Brogdon added 16 points for the Bucks.
NBA Fantasy Information
Players to watch: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks), PF, $11,300. Antetokounmpo is averaging 63.3 fantasy points per game. He is the only player on the Bucks worth grabbing at this juncture. Sure, there is no value here with the highest salary in the league (tied with Russell Westbrook). However, Antetokounmpo is outscoring Westbrook early in the season and I expect that trend to continue. Westbrook has two superstars to feed at Oklahoma City, which will take away from the monster numbers he posted last season.
CJ McCollum (Trail Blazers), SG, $7200. McCollum still has some value with his current salary. He scored 43.9 fantasy points Friday at Indiana. There is no reason McCollum cannot get 40+ fantasy points again on Saturday.
Al-Farouq Aminu (Trail Blazers), PF, $4800. Aminu is averaging 34.3 fantasy points per game after two games. So he has value at that price.
First plays of the season:
I was 5-7 in the regular season when I started posting in late March last year and I was 17-7 in the playoffs here on this site. I went 8-7 in the preseason on my posted plays.
Oklahoma City Thunder -5, laying $110 to win $100 – Utah playing the back-end of a back-to-back after losing a close game at Minnesota Friday night 100-97. Oklahoma City easily covered a big number against the Knicks on Thursday at home. Utah is 1-1, but 2-0 against the spread during week one of the season. This is a straight “fade play” against Utah, who is playing a back-ender tonight.
Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony combined for 71 points against the Knicks and will be hard to stop this season.
Raul Neto is questionable for the Jazz, while Dante Exum is out indefinitely. The Thunder have a clean slate on the injury list.
Sacramento / Denver under 215, laying $110 to win $100 – Denver has only played one game, but their ranking for Pace is 24th in league out of 30 teams. The Nuggets’ ranking may be that low because their lone opponent, the Utah Jazz, also have a low ranking (23rd in Pace) before Friday’s games. Regardless, I am taking the under because of the Pace that Sacramento plays at. The Kings were ranked 29th in Pace before Friday’s games with a ranking of 93.2. The Pace that Sacramento played at Friday night was almost 6 full points slower than that number. So the Kings are probably ranked dead last in Pace once those rankings are released later today.
Sacramento slowed their Pace down significantly during their third game of the preseason and have gone under the Vegas total in 5 of their last 6 games. However, I cannot even count the one over out of those six games because that game was played on the final day of the preseason and many of the Kings regulars did not even play.
Edit 4:54 p.m. EST: Here are some brief thoughts on my picks below. If DeMar DeRozan is out for Toronto and Aaron Gordon plays for Orlando, then those two picks are a bit stronger. I am tempted to take my top 3 overs on the totals, but it is still early in the season, so I am holding back. I just want to put my toe in the water today and not go too crazy with a lot of bets.
There are a lot of big Vegas lines out there and I am taking a lot of dogs of course, which is my wont as I am a dog player in the NBA. However, picking those dogs on Thursday did not go so well. So again, I am being careful not betting too much this early in the season.
I will be looking for 2nd half bets again tonight as I am hoping to see something juicy as I have not made a 2nd half bet this season.
Sides: (1) OKC, (2) Phi, (3) Orl, (4) Memp, (5) Milw, (6) Det, (7) Chi, (8) Dal, (9) Ind, (10) Sac, (11) Pho
Totals: (1) Sac un, (2) Ind ov, (3) Chi ov, (4) Dal ov, (5) Mil un, (6) OKC un, (7) Pho ov, (8) Phi ov, (9) Det un, (10) Mem un, (11) Orl un
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