The 2021/22 NBA season begins in the early hours of Wednesday morning as the league celebrates its 75th anniversary.
We have already produced an in-depth NBA season preview looking at the prospects of every team but now our focus switches to tonight’s matches.
Champions Milwaukee Bucks begin the defence of their title against the Brooklyn Nets while the Los Angeles Lakers host the Golden State Warriors.
With two cracking contests taking place, we’re looking to boost our coffers with NBA predictions for a 14/1 double.
Milwaukee Bucks to beat Brooklyn Nets by 1-5 points @ 4/1
The Bucks claimed their first NBA Championship in 50 years with a 4-2 series win over the Phoenix Suns.
Giannis Antetokounmpo was named the NBA Finals Most Valuable Player after battling through the pain barrier and will once again be key to the Bucks’ prospects this season.
The Bucks open the campaign just 91 days after clinching the title and are 9/1 joint-third favourites to retain the trophy.
They face a Nets side who are rated the 12/5 favourites for the championship. The Nets were beaten in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semi-final by the Bucks.
Brooklyn will be desperate for star trio Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving to stay healthy this season.
They were without Irving in that series while Harden played injured – the three accumulated just 202 regular-season minutes (just over eight games) together.
But they have been dealt a pre-season blow with Irving having been indefinitely excluded from team activities as a consequence of not having received a Covid-19 vaccination.
The Bucks will receive their championship rings and the banner will be raised to the rafters before tip-off and they can ride that emotional wave.
LA Lakers -8.5 points to beat Golden State Warriors @ 2/1
Having claimed their first NBA Championship in 10 years in 2020 – and 17th overall – the Lakers bowed out in the first round of the Western Conference play-offs to the Suns.
LeBron James spent large parts of last season sidelined with or carrying an ankle injury but the Lakers have signed 2017 NBA MVP Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards.
Along with Anthony Davis, the trio can spearhead another challenge by the Lakers but whether they have the depth should injuries strike remains to be seen.
The Warriors contested the NBA Finals for five successive years between 2015-2019 – winning three times – but the wheels have fallen off since.
With Durant leaving the organisation and Klay Thompson suffering with knee and Achilles injuries which keeps him on the sidelines, the Warriors failed to even reach the play-offs for the past two seasons.
The Lakers took three of the four head-to-head matchups with the Warriors and home-court advantage can help them start the season on a winning note.
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