Preseason for the 2021-22 NBA season begins Sunday, Oct. 3, 2021; free NBA preseason picks are available at Basketball Insiders. The first six games will be the main focus of this article. The Nets-Lakers begins at 3:30 p.m. ET on Oct. 3, while the 76ers-Raptors matchup starts at 7 p.m. ET on Oct. 4. The Nets-Lakers can be watched live via Yes, Spectrum SportsNet or NBA League Pass.
Then, both the Hawks-Heat and Magic-Celtics games will air live at 7:30 p.m. ET. Afterwards, the Pelicans-Timberwolves and Hornets-Thunder contests start at 8 p.m. ET. Currently, NBA preseason betting odds are not accessible for gamblers. The sportsbooks could release the game-line odds in the coming days. Stay tuned for an update.
Brooklyn Nets vs. Los Angeles Lakers: preview and prediction
In the 2020-21 NBA season, the Nets finished 48-24 (.667), ranking second overall in the Eastern Conference. Though, the Lakers concluded their season with a record of 42-30 (.583), finishing seventh in the Western Conference. These two teams possess the best odds of winning the 2022 NBA Finals.
Per Bovada, Brooklyn has the league-best +250 favorable odds of winning their first championship, whereas Los Angeles has +350 odds of winning their 18th title. Moreover, the number one offseason story regarded the Lakers trading Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell Pope to the Washington Wizards for nine-time All-Star Russell Westbrook.
Leading into this preseason opener, the Lakers have the superior roster on paper. However, the Nets are still a top-tier contender. Last season, after retiring abruptly from the NBA due to heart irregularities, LaMarcus Aldridge was medically cleared to play in August. In early September, he signed a one-year, $2.6 million deal with the Nets. In summary, flip a coin; the Lakers are arguably more appealing.
Philadelphia 76ers vs. Toronto Raptors: preview and prediction
Last season, the 76ers ended their regular season with the No. 1 seed. They finished 49-23 (.681) overall. Despite the team losing 103-96 versus the Atlanta Hawks in Game 7 of the Conference Semifinals, the Sixers had a terrific season. From beginning to end, it was interesting. In their offseason, the trade-rumor drama commenced. Three-time All-Star Ben Simmons has been the center of attention these last three months. No one is sure where the 25-year-old Australian will be traded to in this upcoming season.
As for the Raptors, they had a record of 27-45 (.375) last season. In early August, the organization traded Kyle Lowry to the Miami Heat for Precious Achiuwa and Goran Dragic. Plus, the Raptors front office reassured Pascal Siakim that he will remain in Toronto. This will not put a halt to trade rumors, though. Similar to Simmons, an in-season trade is possible. Anyways, the 76ers have the better roster to start the season. Pick them to win over the Raptors. Other free NBA preseason picks can be found on the main page.
Atlanta Hawks vs. Miami Heat: preview and prediction
At the end of the 2020-21 season, the Hawks had a record of 41-31 (.589). They ranked fifth in the Eastern Conference. Statistically, Atlanta was one of the most underrated contenders in the postseason. They were heavy underdogs versus the 76ers in the Conference Semifinals. Oddsmakers were not expecting Trae Young to carry his team as far as he did in the playoffs. Aside from the re-signings, in the offseason, the Hawks signed rookie Jalen Johnson, Gorgui Dieng and acquired Deion Wright.
To add to Atlanta’s intriguing offseason, the Heat made quite a few moves as well. As stated before, the Heat traded for Kyle Lowry. Not to mention, they re-signed Jimmy Butler and signed P.J. Tucker. The Heat have +2500 odds of winning the championship in 2022. The odds are not great, but a common theme in professional sports in 2021 has been underdogs winning. For this competitive matchup, it is better to stick with the home team. Pick the Heat to win.
Orlando Magic vs. Boston Celtics: preview and prediction
The Magic had disastrous performances last season. They ranked 14th in the Eastern Conference, with a record of 21-51 (.292). In June, the organization agreed to part ways with head coach Steve Clifford. In July, Jamahl Mosley was named the next head coach. Mosley has no head coaching experience in the NBA. However, he did serve as an assistant coach for the Denver Nuggets, Cleveland Cavaliers and Dallas Mavericks. Heading into this season, expectations are low.
The Celtics also made their fair share of offseason transitions. On Jun. 2, 2021, head coach Brad Stevens was promoted to president of basketball operations for the Celtics. This news came shortly after Danny Ainge stepped down from the position. In August, Stevens hired Ime Udoka as head coach. Udoka also has no NBA head-coaching experience. Now, on top of signing Dennis Schroder and Enes Kanter, they traded for Josh Richardson from the Dallas Mavericks. All things considered, pick the C’s to win this one. Other free NBA preseason picks will be available on Monday, Oct. 4.
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Minnesota Timberwolves: preview and prediction
Last season, the Pelicans were 31-41 (.431), ranking 11th overall in the Western Conference. Of course, Stan Van Gundy was hired by the organization on Oct. 22, 2020. This news came two months after the front office fired Alvin Gentry. Unfortunately, Coach Van Gundy was not right for the job, either. Van Gundy and the Pelicans agreed to part ways after the season ended. In the offseason, the Pelicans acquired Jonas Valanciunas from the Memphis Grizzlies. And, they added Herbert Jones to their active roster.
The Timberwolves have had their ups and downs, too. By “ups and downs,” it is mostly the downs. In the 2020-21 season, Minnesota concluded their season with a record of 23-49 (.319). On Feb. 21, 2021, the front office fired head coach Ryan Saunders. One week ago, Gersson Rosas was fired as the team’s president of basketball operations. Despite signing Leandro Bolmaro, Chris Silva and Matt Lewis, pick the Pelicans to win on the road. The Timberwolves have a lot of distractions right now.
Hornets vs. Thunder: preview and prediction
The Hornets added Kai Jones and James Bouknight to their active roster. Jones was traded from the New York Knicks, while Bouknight was selected by the team in the 2021 NBA Draft. Shooting guard Scottie Lewis was selected 56th overall as well. Plus, Charlotte acquired forward Mason Plumlee from the Detroit Pistons. Along with signing forwards J.T. Thor and Kelly Oubre Jr., they traded for New Orleans Pelicans’ forward Wes Iwundu. Nine days ago, the Hornets signed Xavier Sneed, too. Last season, the team finished 33-39 (.458).
In the 2020-21 season, the Thunder concluded their schedule with an overall record of 22-50 (.306). They finished 14th in the Western Conference. Nevertheless, in their offseason, they signed guards Josh Giddey and Tre Mann. Additionally, the organization signed forward Jeremiah Robinson-Earl and re-signed forward Mike Muscala. OKC could be the team of the future.
Having said that, can they play at a mediocre level? Pick the Hornets to squeeze out a close win on the road. Ever since the Thunder lost Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Kevin Durant, they have been one of the worst teams in the league. Other free NBA preseason picks will be accessible at Basketball Insiders in the coming week.
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