Washington Wizards at Cleveland Cavaliers (-5, 188.5)
A pair of young teams looking to improve upon last year's disappointing campaigns clash to open the season, but only one will have its star point guard running the show when the Washington Wizards travel to Cleveland to start a new campaign against the Cavaliers. The teams combined for just 41 wins in the shortened 2011-12 season but are optimistic about the future with talented young point guards at the helm.
The Wizards, however, will be without 2010 No. 1 pick John Wall, who is expected to miss the first month of the season with a stress injury in his left knee, and forwards Nene (plantar fasciitis) and Kevin Seraphin (strained right calf) also will miss the opener . Kyrie Irving, the 2011 top pick, is expected to start for Cleveland despite being listed day-to-day after having his four wisdom teeth removed last week. Washington won two of three meetings last season, including a 96-85 win in the only game in Cleveland.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, Fox Sports Ohio, Comcast SportsNet
LINE: Cleveland opened as high as 5.5 and has since been bet down. The total has moved from 190 to 188.5.
ABOUT THE WIZARDS (2011-12: 20-46, 29-36-1 ATS): Washington closed last season on a six-game winning streak but will have a hard time replacing Wall, who averaged a team-high 16.3 points and 8.0 assists last year. A.J. Price and Jannero Pargo will fill in at the point, and the Wizards will lean on rookie Bradley Beal, the No. 3 overall pick out of Florida, to pick up some of the scoring slack. New additions Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor will start in the frontcourt with second-year forward Trevor Booker.
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (2011-12: 21-45, 31-35-0 ATS): The Cavaliers have gone 40-108 since LeBron James took his talents to South Beach, but Irving represents a brighter future. The reigning Rookie of the Year averaged 18.5 points, 5.4 assists and 3.7 rebounds last season. After adding Irving and power forward Tristan Thompson two years ago, the Cavs continued rebuilding through the draft by picking shooting guard Dion Waiters and center Tyler Zeller this year. They also have veteran center Anderson Varejao back after missing the final 41 games last season with a fractured wrist, and they added forward C.J. Miles to provide a spark off the bench.
* Under is 4-0 in the last four meetings.
* Under is 6-2 in the last eight meetings in Cleveland.
* Underdog is 12-5 ATS in the last 17 meetings.
* Road team is 5-2 ATS in the last seven meetings.
1. Washington SG Jordan Crawford scored 49 points in two games against the Cavaliers last season.
2. The average age of Cleveland's opening night roster is 24.9 years, and the starting five averages 23.7 years.
3. Waiters has earned a spot in the starting lineup for Cleveland, marking his first start since high school. Waiters came off the bench for two years at Syracuse.
Boston Celtics at Miami Heat (-6.5, 186.5)
LeBron James and the host Miami Heat will get to watch their NBA Championship banner be raised to the rafters on opening night while the team on the other side tries not to focus on what went wrong in the Eastern Conference Finals. The Boston Celtics, who held a 3-2 lead on the Heat in that series before crumbling in Games 6 and 7, will get a chance for immediate revenge on Tuesday night.
The Celtics reloaded over the summer, re-signing forward Kevin Garnett and bringing in backcourt veterans like Jason Terry, Leandro Barbosa and Courtney Lee to fortify the bench. Miami did not rest on its laurels either, adding to its own team and possibly weakening Boston by signing away guard Ray Allen. While Allen is a nice piece to the puzzle, the Heat will go as far as James will take them. The reigning MVP won a gold medal with Team USA over the summer and told reporters recently that he wants to be the best player of all-time.
Over the past 10 seasons, the defending NBA champions are 7-3 SU but
only 2-8 ATS in the season opener the following season. Even more
surprising is the fact that reigning NBA champs have failed to cover on
opening night in each of the past six seasons. The Mavericks, Lakers
(twice), Celtics, Spurs and Heat have all fell victims to the ATS
TV: 8:00 p.m. ET, TNT
LINE: Miami opened as high as -8 in Las Vegas and has since been bet down to -6.5. The total has climbed from 184.5 to 186.5.
ABOUT THE CELTICS (2011-12: 39-27, 34-30-2 ATS): That Boston came within a game of making the finals last spring was somewhat of a shock. Allen and fellow No. 2 guard Avery Bradley were out or limited throughout the playoffs and Jeff Green missed the entire season. The Celtics are healthy at the moment and will use a deep rotation to keep players like Garnett, forward Paul Pierce and Green from wearing down. Point guard Rajon Rondo, who averaged 20.9 points and 11.3 assists in the seven-game series against Miami last spring, has drawn praise from his teammates and coaches and appears ready to step up as the leader of the team.
ABOUT THE HEAT (2011-12: 46-20, 32-34-0 ATS): Any questions about whether or not James was able to handle pressure situations were answered against the Celtics in Game 6 last spring. On the road and with his team against the wall, James crushed Boston’s celebration plans by putting up 45 points on 19-of-26 shooting and adding 15 rebounds. He went on to average a double-double in the finals and earn his first ring. Still only 28 years old, James will be aiming for his fourth MVP award in five seasons. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who both sat out the Olympics with injuries, played the preseason and are ready to go on Tuesday.
* Over is 5-1 in the last six meetings.
* Over is 20-7 in the last 27 meetings in Miami.
* Celtics are 8-3 ATS in the last 11 meetings.
* Home team is 15-7 ATS in the last 22 meetings.
1. Miami Heat coach Eric Spoelstra is making his offense more fluid and doing away with rigid positions. James will likely handle the bulk of the ball handling.
2. Boston took three of four from the Heat in the 2011-12 regular season, including a 115-107 victory in Miami in which Rondo piled up 18 points and 15 assists. That snapped a five-game losing streak in Miami.
3. James twisted his right ankle and took a kick to the face in Friday’s final preseason game but expects to play against the Celtics.
Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Lakers (-9, 186)
Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki won’t play and Los Angeles star Kobe Bryant is doubtful when the visiting Mavericks and the retooled Lakers open the season on Tuesday. Nowitzki had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee on Oct. 19 and will likely miss the first month of the season. Bryant injured his right foot in a preseason game on Oct. 21 and hasn’t practiced since. Point guard Steve Nash and center Dwight Howard both make their Los Angeles debuts.
The Lakers acquired Nash from the Phoenix Suns and Howard from the Orlando Magic after their second straight second-round playoff exit. Pairing the two stars with Bryant and forward Pau Gasol will give the Lakers a four-star quartet hard to defend. Dallas is also recharging after winning the 2011 NBA title. The injured Nowitzki and veteran forward Shawn Marion are the only two remaining players from the title-winning squad.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT
LINE: Los Angeles opened as high as -10 and has since been bet down to -8.5. The total has moved from 187.5 to 186.
ABOUT THE MAVERICKS (2011-12: 36-30, 32-34-0 ATS): Marion will be the only familiar face in the starting lineup of the revamped squad. The other scheduled starters are forward Elton Brand and recently acquired center Eddy Curry in the frontcourt and O.J. Mayo and Darren Collison in the backcourt. “This is what we got. That’s the way it is,” Marion said. “We can’t harp on it all day.” Center Chris Kaman (calf) will miss the game and his recent injury necessitated the signing of Curry.
ABOUT THE LAKERS (2011-12: 41-25, 28-38-0 ATS): Bryant didn’t participate in Monday’s practice and afterwards, the team termed his possible availability as a game-time decision. Bryant is noted for playing through pain but even some of his teammates doubt he will be able to play. “I know he’s a little down right now,” Howard said. “He seems down because he can’t get out there and practice with us.” Offseason acquisition Jodie Meeks is expected to start if Bryant can’t go.
* Over is 5-1 in the last six meetings.
* Mavericks are 9-3 ATS in the last 12 meetings in Los Angeles.
* Road team is 15-7-1 ATS in the last 23 meetings.
1. Los Angeles won all four games against the Mavericks last season and 14 of the last 17 regular-season meetings. However, Dallas swept the Lakers in the second round of the 2011 playoffs.
2. The Lakers went 0-8 in the preseason and five of the losses were by double digits.
3. The Mavericks waived troubled guard Delonte West on Monday. West was suspended twice this month for detrimental conduct.