By Conor Phillips
The NBA season tips off tomorrow with two-time defending champions Miami Heat hosting big conference rivals, Chicago Bulls at the American Airlines Arena.
Chicago Bulls @ Miami Heat 12:00 am
The Bulls are unbeaten with an 8-0 record during pre-season following the return of Derrick Rose. He has returned in phenomenal fashion, showing glimpses of the player that won the MVP award in 2010-2011.
Joakim Noah has been given the all clear and is 100% available for the big match-up and Taj Gibson who has shot 60% field goals during pre-season is looking the best he has ever been.
But LeBron James’ Heat seem even more of a force coming in to the season than in previous years. Greg Oden is available for selection following his four-year lay-off due to chronic knee injuries and the 2007 No.1 draft pick is sure to give Heat something extra.
James has played a limited amount of time during pre-season; however he and Wade have shown just how much of a threat they are sure to be again this season. Chris Bosh has played excellent and it is difficult to see past a heat victory.
The Bulls are 17/10 with most leading firms to out-do the Heat, whilst the home side are a very short 1/2. Whilst it seems impossible to back against the Heat, a double result of Bulls half time and Heat full time could be a good bet at 9/2 with Paddy Power.
Heat to win by 6-10 points also seems a decent value bet at 10/3. As for player markets, Derrick Rose to score over 21.5 points is currently 5/6, whilst another interesting bet may be Carlos Boozer to score less than 17.5 points, also at 5/6.
Orlando Magic @ Indiana Pacers 11:00 pm
Another team who are sure to put pressure on Erik Spoelstra’s men are Indiana Pacers, who host Orlando Magic. Although the Pacers are only 3-5 during pre-season, they’re sure to be one of the NBA’s top sides, bidding to cause an upset for the Heat.
They are without Danny Granger for the first few weeks, who is sure to have a big impact on his return following a injury hit previous season, however with the ever-improving Paul George and additions such as Chris Copeland and Luis Scola, Pacers should still start well.
They are expected to win comfortably against a weak Magic side and are as short at 1/10 with Bet Victor to do so.
The Pacers to win by 11-15 could be worth a bet at 7/2, whilst Paul George to score more than 18.5 points could well be a punters dream. He has been scoring well in pre-season, so 5/6 is fairly good value.
LA Clippers @ LA Lakers 02:30 am
The final game of the opening night is the match up of the two Los Angeles teams at the Staples Center.
The Lakers have played averagely during pre-season, winning four and losing four, however many have completely written them off for the upcoming season.
With Kobe Bryant out and Dwight Howard’s departure, they must rely on the experience of Steve Nash and Pau Gasol. Clippers have won 5 of their pre-season games and are certain favourites going into this one.
William Hill are offering the best price of 5/19 for them, with Lakers around 7/2. The Clippers to win by 1-5 is 9/2, whilst Chris Kaman to score over 14.5 points may also be worth a punt at evens.
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