The NBA makes a long-awaited return to our screens tonight as the Milwaukee Bucks look to defend their newly won title.
In a crazy opening round of fixtures, the defending champions have home-court advantage against this year's favorites in the Brooklyn Nets, while LeBron James' LA Lakers play host to Steph Curry's Golden State Warriors too.
We look through the games, break them down and hand out some tasty betting tips ahead of the action.
Brooklyn Nets @ Milwaukee BucksTuesday, October 19th, 7:40 pm ET
An absolute corker of a first game of the season here as the Milwaukee Bucks get in front of their hometown crowd as champions for the first time to take on the 2021/22 season favorites the Brooklyn Nets.
The Bucks claimed the first title since 1971 when they defeated the Phoenix Suns in six for their second NBA championship ever with Giannis Antetekoumpo earning the Finals MVP award for his brilliant run in the series.
The Nets were heavily favored last season too, only for the Bucks to eliminate them in a seven-game thriller in which they led 3-2 at one point. Despite Kevin Durant's brilliant 48-point game 7, they were beaten in overtime and crashed out earlier than many expected.
Back the Bucks to win again - (-125)
The seven-game series between these two sides showed the best and worst of both but ultimately it was the Bucks who came out on top after showing great heart and desire and the sheer determination of Antetekoumpo to be the best.
Brooklyn are expected to be even better this time around, despite Kyrie Irving currently being unavailable due to his vaccination status. That means it will be the old duo of James Harden and Durant that lead the team forward. They acquired point guard Patty Mills in anticipation of Irving's absence, but there is obviously a big difference in talent and ability between the two names.
The Nets had the best offense in the NBA last season even without their big three regularly playing together but defensively they were ranked 22nd among all teams. With the Bucks high on morale and already owning big wins over the Nets, they will surely struggle to contain them in this season opener.
The Bucks were the fifth-rated offensive team last season and ninth-ranked defensively. They have balanced the team excellently and have the X-factor that is Giannis to break the deadlock in tight games as he has done so often.
The depth of their roster was impressive too, having seven different players averaging double-digit points for the season. All of this together, plus the home-court advantage and the fact it's their first game as champions means they should earn an opening day win.
Back the Under! - (-110)
The pricing on the sportsbook looks odd for this one and let me tell you why.
Last season in three regular-season meetings the two sides averaged 240.3 points per game. During the playoff series, the two teams averaged only 206.6 points per game, including the points scored in overtime of game seven!
With Irving missing for the game tonight, the Nets are unlikely to be as efficient going forward as they have been at points last season while the Bucks will not be anywhere near their best considering the championship ring ceremony before the game starts and the fact it's the first game of the season.
Both will need some time to get going and with a slow start likely, the unders is the most likely option to land so back it while you can at the current price.
Golden State Warriors @ LA LakersTuesday, October 19th, 10:10 pm ET
Two of the faces of the NBA come together on the opening night of the season at the Staples Centre tonight.
The Lakers have rebuilt their roster with experience in the off-season, bringing in Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, and Dwight Howard while Kent Bazemore and Wayne Ellington join James and Anthony Davis in the starting five.
They had a relatively disappointing campaign last time out, claiming the seventh seed after a play-in win over the Warriors before getting eliminated by the Phoenix Suns in the first round in a six-game series.
The Warriors on the other hand had a season of transition as Curry carried the load for the team with Klay Thompson out injured for the entire season, leading the league in scoring.
After entering the play-in tournament following an indifferent regular season, the Warriors lost to the Lakers and then the Memphis Grizzlies in overtime to miss out on the playoffs for the second season in a row.
Youth can prevail! - (+115)
The Lakers have gone for experience in this season's roster as LeBron looks for one more championship before the end of his glorious career.
32.2 is the average age of the expected starting five for the Lakers this season, while the Warriors are likely to lineup with a five of Curry, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, and Kevon Looney for an average age of 27.4.
There is plenty of continuity among the ranks at the Warriors and after an impressive end to the regular season last year, they will take positives from the fact that they've managed to keep their team together for the most part.
The Lakers are undoubtedly a talented bunch and with LeBron anything is possible, but the likelihood is that this team will need a bit of time to gel together which could play into the hands of the Warriors.
The intensity of Green, the shooting ability of Curry, and the energy of the younger three members of the team mean they will be hungry and on it from the first tip-off. While they may not claim the win on the night, they should be able to score enough points to keep the game tight and maybe even secure a victory on the spread of +3.5 to make you some dollar tonight.
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