- The Kings are getting a lot of points for a home opener, but the Jazz bring continuity and suffocating defense into their meeting with Sacramento.
With 11 NBA games on the Wednesday slate, bettors will have plenty of options to choose from. Here are the three best bets of the day.
1. Utah Jazz at Sacramento Kings (+8.5)
10:00 pm ET
This is a lot of points for Utah to be laying on the road, but we’re bullish on the Jazz this season—and understandably low on the Kings. While it’s never a great idea to put too much weight into a preseason game, the Jazz did beat the Kings 132-93 in Sacramento last Thursday. More importantly, Utah led 71-35 after the first half, when the starters spent most of their time on the floor. This is simply a bad matchup for Sacramento. The Kings have spent quite a few first-round picks on big men over the years, but their sizable group will be tasked with scoring on last year’s Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert. Thanks in large part to Gobert’s ability to protect the rim, the Jazz had the NBA's best defensive rating in 2017-18. They allowed only 102.9 points per 100 possessions. Utah has the ability to smother an opponent on any given night, and an inexperienced Sacramento team won’t know what to do against them. The Jazz also have the floor spacing to take advantage of any lapses the Kings will have defensively.
Pick: Utah Jazz (-8.5)
2. Milwaukee Bucks at Charlotte Hornets (+2.5)
7:00 pm ET
New Milwaukee head coach Mike Budenholzer inherits a talented roster, but this isn’t exactly the easiest opening-night game. The Bucks want to send a message to the rest of the league right off the bat—and with star Giannis Antetokounmpo in the fold, anything can happen—but the Hornets just might be a playoff team this season. Charlotte was able to rid itself of Dwight Howard in the offseason, and former Spurs assistant James Borrego should be a great head coach for the Hornets. He brings a fast-paced, modern offense to a team that has the right types of players to make it work. It’s also important to note that Budenholzer had trouble beating this Charlotte team when he was with Atlanta. Dating back to January 2016, the Hornets are 8-2 both straight up and against the spread when playing the Hawks. This Bucks team is obviously a lot more talented than last year’s Hawks were, but clearly some of these Hornets players like what they see when going up against Budenholzer’s defenses.
Pick: Charlotte Hornets (+2.5)
3. Dallas Mavericks at Phoenix Suns(-1.0)
10:30 pm ET
The Mavericks and Suns both made drastic changes in the offseason, but Dallas is the only one of the two that has a chance of accomplishing much of anything this year. In drafting international prodigy Luka Doncic and signing an elite rim protector like DeAndre Jordan, the Mavericks improved considerably on both ends of the floor. While the Suns added veteran Trevor Ariza and first-overall pick DeAndre Ayton, the team lacks a playmaker at point and star Devin Booker is a major liability defensively. One reason some bettors are skeptical of Dallas in this game is the fact that the Mavericks had to spend a few days in China during the preseason. That can be difficult for a team to recover from, but their game against the 76ers in Shenzhen was last Monday. With a little over a week to get ready for this game, the jet lag shouldn't be too much of a factor. The Mavericks might come out a little sluggish, but this is a team that could contend for the eighth seed in the Western Conference if things break right. The team can’t afford to lose a game like this one, and it’s hard to imagine it happening against a Phoenix team that has a few glaring weaknesses.
Pick: Dallas Mavericks (+1.0)