After two long months, the NBA is finally back. The 2020-21 season officially tips off with what should be a fun doubleheader on Tuesday night. The Golden State Warriors will take on the Brooklyn Nets in the opener, while we get another battle of Los Angeles between the Lakers and the Clippers in the nightcap.
The Golden State-Brooklyn matchup comes with no shortage of narratives. Steph Curry will return to the floor after missing the vast majority of last season. He’ll suit up alongside a supporting cast that features a few new faces, including Kelly Oubre, James Wiseman, and Andrew Wiggins. The loss of Klay Thompson for another season may take the Warriors out of the championship picture, but Golden State likely still has enough talent to make a run at a playoff berth after finishing with the NBA’s worst record a season ago.
Hopes are high in Brooklyn thanks to the return of Kevin Durant. Curry’s ex-teammate missed all of last season with a torn Achilles, but the former league MVP looked like his old self during Brooklyn’s preseason games.
Can KD coexist with a new running mate in Kyrie Irving to help turn the Nets into title contenders? And, how will Steve Nash fare in his first-ever head coaching venture in the league’s biggest media market?
We don’t have much to go on with this being the first game of the season, which means there is likely some guesswork going into these betting lines. The Nets have been installed as early seven-point favorites here in a game with an over/under of 229 points. Brooklyn is listed at -305 to win the game on the moneyline, as well.
While Durant and Kyrie will garner most of the headlines for the Nets, don’t overlook the depth of this team. Brooklyn has steadily improved over the past couple of years thanks to some shrewd drafting and smart trades. The Nets’ supporting cast of Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris, Jarrett Allen, and Caris LeVert will likely have just as much importance to Brooklyn’s championship aspirations as their star duo will.
Irving in particular hasn’t been the most durable player in recent years, so having players like Dinwiddie and LeVert, in particular, may prove useful to the Nets. Both have thrived as primary ball-handlers for the Nets in the past. While both are likely better than the bench roles they’ll have on this team, the sheer talent on this roster should give Brooklyn the ability to overwhelm plenty of their foes over the course of the season.
Could Brooklyn have one of the best bench units in the league?https://t.co/rOmrDV1iqm
— Nets Nation (@NetsNationCP) December 15, 2020
Durant’s ability to play multiple positions also gives Nash some flexibility with his rotation. Allen has shown plenty of promise defensively early in his career, but the Nets can match up with smaller teams thanks to Durant’s capability to play the five. Brooklyn can “go big” with Allen or DeAndre Jordan in the middle, or they can space the floor around Durant as a small-ball center.
There are plenty of reasons for optimism surrounding the Nets this season. Harris (42.4 percent), Irving (39.4 percent), Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot (38.8 percent), LeVert (36.4 percent), Durant (career 38.1 percent), and Taurean Prince (career 36.6 percent) have all been above-average three-point shooters in the past. Landry Shamet is one of the most lethal shooters in the league if he can crack the rotation.
The Nets have the personnel to play a fast-paced offensive style if they so choose, but the ability of Durant, Irving, LeVert, and Dinwiddie to create their own shots means they can thrive in a half-court setting, too.
The Nets will surely continue to be linked with James Harden’s trade rumors, but keeping the roster intact may be their best course of action if they want to compete for a championship this season. The depth of this team will make them a contender.
The absence of Klay Thompson takes one of the best shooters of all-time out of the mix for Golden State, but he won’t be the only key cog missing from the lineup on Tuesday night. The Dubs are also expected to be without Draymond Green, who has been sidelined in the preseason by a foot malady.
The Warriors’ star defender is officially listed as doubtful for Tuesday’s opener due to a mild foot strain. Steve Kerr wants to get Green back to full strength before throwing him into a live game setting, so we can safely assume Golden State will be without their primary Durant defender in this one.
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 19, 2020
Obviously, that’s a big deal. Green is really the only player on the Warriors’ roster with the physical tools to try and slow down Durant. With him gone, that task likely falls to the likes of Kelly Oubre or Eric Paschall. Frankly, neither has the size or strength to give Durant many problems.
As you might expect, Curry will have a lot on his plate to begin the season. Steph played just five games last year due to a couple of different injuries. The Warriors’ brass has given Curry some extra help with the aforementioned additions, but this offense will still revolve around the two-time MVP.
Oubre should thrive as an offensive-minded weapon next to Curry, but there are a lot of question marks about the rest of the supporting cast. Wiseman’s NBA debut will be his first taste of NBA action after he missed the preseason due to injury. Wiggins has never been able to live up to the hype. Guys like Paschall, Brad Wanamaker, and Damion Lee are passable role players, but this is hardly the same caliber of team that we just saw make the Finals in five consecutive years.
What’s the Best Bet?
Can Curry put up a vintage supernova performance and keep the Warriors in this one? It’s certainly possible, but the early-season version of Golden State may well be a work-in-progress. Kerr has enough new pieces at his disposal to where it may take time to figure out how they best align next to one another.
I’m skeptical that the Warriors will be a quality defensive team even with Green healthy, but without him they’re going to struggle to keep the Nets off the scoreboard. Durant will be ready to put on a show against his former team after missing all of last season. It’s hard to imagine the Warriors putting anyone out there capable of slowing him down in this one.
Don’t be surprised if the spread grows as we get closer to tipoff. The Nets are justifiably pretty heavy favorites in this one, and I wouldn’t be shocked if the line moved even more in Brooklyn’s direction between now and Tuesday night. Bet the Nets to cover the seven points with ease in this one.
Warriors at Nets Pick
Nets -7 (-115)
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu …