I’m not exactly a gambler. The one time I went to Vegas, I blew a bunch of money on the Final Four and then tried to recoup all of my losses on what ended up being a very ill-advised bet on a Heat-Blazers game. Having said that, my decision making tends to be a little bit better from the comfort of my office rather than after a spin on the LINQ High Roller.
With all of that in mind, the Westgate Las Vegas Sportsbook released its over/unders for the NBA on Tuesday. Let's take a look at some of the bets I would make if I were a gambling man—which I very much want to be.
76ers Under: 42.5
Philly’s total is one that jumps out right away. Can this core win 43 games? Ben Simmons hasn’t played basketball in over a year. Markelle Fultz is still a rookie. And Joel Embiid... well, you know why we can’t exactly count on Joel Embiid. The Sixers are fun and talented, and the East is somewhere between the West and G-League when it comes to competitiveness. Still, I’m not sure the 76ers will figure it out quick enough—or stay healthy enough—to reach 43 wins.
Celtics Under: 56.5
Boston’s high-end talent upgrades this summer have led to a huge roster upheaval. Only four players are back from last year’s team, and I’m not sure the Celtics quite have the depth to win 57 games. Kyrie Irving could be an injury risk, and he’s coming from a team that hasn’t cared about the regular season in three years. Key effort guys like Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley are gone, and they are precisely the kind of players that help teams overachieve during the regular season. The Irving-Hayward pairing could also take some time to figure itself out. Remember how slow the Cavs started in LeBron’s first season back? The Celtics won 53 games last season, and I don’t expect them to be remarkably better right away.
Cavaliers Over: 53.5
This one is so tricky, because Cleveland couldn’t care less about the regular season and LeBron may or may not take two weeks off to sample mojitos in Miami. But if James is as motivated as his tweets would suggest—and he makes a serious push for MVP—then I think the Cavs can push 60 wins. Crowder is a great pickup for them, and he’ll make the lives of several players easier. Derrick Rose is in the bench role basketball Twitter has been clamoring for him to be in, and he could actually be a positive in a position previously filled by Kay Felder and Deron Williams. Isaiah Thomas will be highly motivated, and Cleveland has enough stable parts to work him in at the right speed. Most importantly though, I really think LeBron is going to be gunning for MVP season, and that alone is enough to take the over here.
Warriors Under: 67.5
At some point, I think the constant trips deep into the playoffs have to catch up to this team somewhere. They can lose a star and still be great, but I imagine Steve Kerr will be pretty liberal with resting his guys after three straight Finals appearances. Also, the West should be more competitive this year, with teams like Denver, Minnesota and Oklahoma City likely giving the Dubs a bit more of a fight this season than last.
Spurs Over: 54.5
I think San Antonio will just barely get over this mark after winning 61 games last season. Gregg Popovich should get the best out of Rudy Gay, and starting Patty Mills over an injured Tony Parker could actually benefit the team after Parker struggled for much of last regular season. Also: Never bet against the Spurs.
Grizzlies Over: 37.5
They still have Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, and a couple youthful additions in Ben McLemore and Tyreke Evans could be just what this team needed. David Fizdale is a great coach, and I think he should be able to keep this roster at .500.
Clippers Under: 43.5
If Blake Griffin gets hurt—he’s missed significant time the last three seasons—then this team will take a big dip. The Clips should be respectable, though.
Raptors Over: 48.5
The East should be bad enough for the Raptors to fall backwards into 50 wins like they do seemingly every year. C.J. Miles was a sneaky good pickup for them, and a full season of Serge Ibaka should help, though him and Jonas Valanciunas shouldn’t be sharing much time together.
Wizards Over: 47.5
Washington was able to overcome an extremely slow start to last season and win 49 games. The bench still needs a lot of work, but if Scott Brooks continues to lean heavily on his starting five, the Wiz should win 50 in a middling East.
Blazers Under: 42.5
Portland, which won 41 games last season, didn’t do enough to keep up with the arms race this summer.