We’re through one week of the NBA season and there has already been plenty of surprises. Only three undefeated franchises remain in the form of the Minnesota Timberwolves, San Antonio Spurs and Philadelphia 76ers. This decade’s powerhouses – the Golden State Warriors – are 1-2 after opening with two heavy defeats and traditional underachievers Phoenix Suns have surprised many with their 2-2 start.
There’s another big week of NBA action in store and we mark your card with our predictions for three of this week’s games below.
Phoenix Suns @ Golden State Warriors
30th October 9:35PM
9th playing 11th in the Western Conference usually doesn’t garner national attention but there is a storyline developing around both of these teams. The newly-dubbed ‘ValleyBoyz’ of Phoenix have created a buzz with their fast start to season while the Warriors’ dynasty finally seems to be coming to an end.
The Phoenix Suns have started well and if they can continue their form through the season they will have a great chance of making the playoffs for the first time since 2010. They opened their account with a drubbing of the Sacremento Kings and have also taken the scalp of Larry O’Brien favourites, the Clippers. They have been unlucky in their pair of one-point defeats to fellow playoff hopefuls Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz.
This game could signify the changing of the guard in the West.
Draymond Green tore through the Pelicans on Monday night but the Suns are a different proposition. Monty Williams has added defensive stability in the form of Ricky Rubio, Aron Baynes and Dario Saric to the young core of Devin Booker, Kelly Oubre Jr. and DeAndre Ayton.
It was only last week that we predicted Stephen Curry would break his own NBA 3-point record this season but after the first three games it might be time for an amendment. Curry seems to be struggling to adapt to his new surroundings in the Chase Center and he looks to be missing his ‘Splash Brother’ Klay Thompson.
Of course, it’s way too early to write-off the Warriors playoff chances but it’s going to be tough journey and Green will have to bring that All-Star level performance every night to make the post-season.
For this game, we’re backing the Phoenix Suns (+5) available at -107 with CanPlay.
Houston Rockets @ Brooklyn Nets
1st November 7PM
Both of these teams have games in midweek (Brooklyn host the Pacers, Rockets travel to Washington) but this match-up is really intriguing.
Both franchises added marquee players to their rosters in the off-season and it will take time to adjust. The Nets brought in Kyrie Irving and the injured Kevin Durant while the Rockets traded Chris Paul for former MVP Russell Westbrook.
The Rockets have one of the most interesting lineups in the NBA. They have the best scorer in the league in James Harden (he averaged 36.1 PPG last season) and triple-double machine Russell Westbrook. Around them they have the same solid role players like P.J Tucker, Austin Rivers and Eric Gordon. Westbrook adds speed to their offense but lets face it, they’re still not enjoyable to watch.
Their opponents have probably the most-watchable player in the NBA – Kyrie Irving. He dropped 50 on his debut and he has followed that up with impressive performances against the Knicks and the Grizzlies. However, his infamous ‘behavior’ is already coming to the fore in Brooklyn. Reports have already come out about his ‘mood swings’ and in the long run that could have a detrimental effect on the team.
Looking ahead to this one though we’re expecting an early season classic. Irving will look to prove his worth against Harden and Westbrook and another 50-pointer isn’t completely out of the question. Back the Nets to win on CanPlay.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Dallas Mavericks
1st November 8PM
We’ll round off this week’s predictions by taking a look at this Western Conference match-up between the Mavericks and the Lakers. This early season meeting sees two of the game’s most exciting duos go head-to-head. The Mavs have European pair Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis forming the spine of their team while the Lakers have LeBron James and Anthony Davis creating the headlines.
Both teams come into this one with a 3-1 record. The Lakers have recovered from their opening night defeat to the Clippers to win three in a row. Summer acquisition Davis made a statement with a double-double (40 points/20 rebounds) through 3 quarters against the Grizzlies on Tuesday night.
The key match-up on Friday night will be between Davis and Porzingis. Latvian Porzingis has the height advantage on his opponent but Davis has considerable weight advantage and he should be able to put the body on him in the paint. While Doncic and James will add the finesse to this game it could come down to a battle of the boards between the two talented big men.
We’re tipping the Lakers to get the road win on Friday night.
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