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2018-19 NBA Predictions

2018-19 NBA Predictions

Friday, March 1

  7:30 p.m. Eastern CARMELO SPREAD WIN PROB.
Hornets 43%
Nets -1.5 57%
7:30 p.m. CARMELO SPREAD WIN PROB.
Bulls 40%
Hawks -2.5 60%
8 p.m. CARMELO SPREAD WIN PROB.
Trail Blazers 29%
Raptors -5.5 71%
  8 p.m.
Wizards 14%
Celtics -11 86%
9 p.m.
Pelicans -4 66%
Suns 34%
10 p.m.
Clippers 39%
Kings -3 61%
10:30 p.m.
Bucks -3 62%
Lakers 38%

Saturday, March 2

  5 p.m. Eastern CARMELO SPREAD WIN PROB.
Pistons -4 66%
Cavaliers 34%
7 p.m. CARMELO SPREAD WIN PROB.
Magic 36%
Pacers -3.5 64%
7:30 p.m. CARMELO SPREAD WIN PROB.
Nets 33%
Heat -4.5 67%
8:30 p.m.
Warriors -5 70%
76ers 30%
8:30 p.m.
Grizzlies 19%
Mavericks -9 81%
8:30 p.m.
Thunder -1.5 57%
Spurs 43%
9 p.m.
Lakers -4 65%
Suns 35%
  9 p.m.
Bucks 41%
Jazz -2 59%
9 p.m.
Pelicans 14%
Nuggets -11.5 86%

Sunday, March 3

  1 p.m. Eastern CARMELO SPREAD WIN PROB.
Trail Blazers -1 54%
Hornets 46%
3:30 p.m. CARMELO SPREAD WIN PROB.
Hawks 31%
Bulls -5 69%
3:30 p.m. CARMELO SPREAD WIN PROB.
Rockets 39%
Celtics -2.5 61%
3:30 p.m.
Knicks 12%
Clippers -12.5 88%
6 p.m.
Timberwolves 42%
Wizards -2 58%
6 p.m.
Magic -4 66%
Cavaliers 34%
6 p.m.
Raptors -4.5 67%
Pistons 33%
7 p.m.
Grizzlies 12%
Thunder -12.5 88%

Monday, March 4

  7:30 p.m. Eastern CARMELO SPREAD WIN PROB.
Hawks 18%
Heat -9.5 82%
7:30 p.m. CARMELO SPREAD WIN PROB.
Mavericks 36%
Nets -3.5 64%
8:30 p.m. CARMELO SPREAD WIN PROB.
Nuggets -1 55%
Spurs 45%
9 p.m.
Bucks -10.5 84%
Suns 16%
9 p.m.
Pelicans 19%
Jazz -9 81%
10 p.m.
Knicks 12%
Kings -12.5 88%
10:30 p.m.
Clippers 23%
Lakers -7.5 77%

Tuesday, March 5

  7 p.m. Eastern CARMELO SPREAD WIN PROB.
Bulls 17%
Pacers -9.5 83%
7 p.m. CARMELO SPREAD WIN PROB.
Magic 18%
76ers -9.5 82%
8 p.m. CARMELO SPREAD WIN PROB.
Rockets 38%
Raptors -3 62%
8 p.m.
Thunder -2 57%
Timberwolves 43%
8 p.m.
Trail Blazers -1.5 56%
Grizzlies 44%
10:30 p.m.
Celtics 20%
Warriors -8.5 80%

Wednesday, March 6

  7 p.m. Eastern CARMELO SPREAD WIN PROB.
Mavericks 35%
Wizards -4 65%
7 p.m. CARMELO SPREAD WIN PROB.
Heat 33%
Hornets -4.5 67%
7 p.m. CARMELO SPREAD WIN PROB.
Timberwolves 32%
Pistons -4.5 68%
7:30 p.m.
Cavaliers 20%
Nets -9 80%
7:30 p.m.
Spurs -3 62%
Hawks 38%
8 p.m.
76ers -7.5 76%
Bulls 24%
8 p.m.
Jazz -1 54%
Pelicans 46%
9 p.m.
Knicks 27%
Suns -6.5 73%
10 p.m.
Celtics -3 62%
Kings 38%
10:30 p.m.
Nuggets 49%
Lakers PK 51%

Thursday, March 7

  8 p.m. Eastern CARMELO SPREAD WIN PROB.
Pacers 17%
Bucks -10 83%
10:30 p.m. CARMELO SPREAD WIN PROB.
Thunder 45%
Trail Blazers -1 55%
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2018-19 NBA Predictions

Saturday, Jan. 12

3:30 p.m. Eastern spread Win prob. Score
Pistons 18%
Clippers -9.5 82%
5 p.m. spread Win prob. Score
Grizzlies 45%
Heat -1.5 55%
7 p.m.  spread Win prob. Score
Celtics -5.5 71%
Magic 29%
8 p.m.
Pelicans 46%
Timberwolves -1 54%
8 p.m.
Spurs 18%
Thunder -9.5 82%
9 p.m.
Nuggets -6.5 73%
Suns 27%
10 p.m.
Hornets 34%
Kings -4 66%
10 p.m.
Bulls 7%
Jazz -16 93%

Sunday, Jan. 13

1 p.m. Eastern  spread Win prob. Score
76ers -11 85%
Knicks 15%
1 p.m.  spread Win prob. Score
Raptors -2.5 60%
Wizards 40%
3:30 p.m. spread Win prob. Score
Bucks -5 70%
Hawks 30%
6 p.m.
Rockets -3.5 65%
Magic 35%
7 p.m.
Warriors -6 72%
Mavericks 28%
8 p.m.
Trail Blazers 19%
Nuggets -9 81%
9:30 p.m.
Cavaliers 11%
Lakers -13 89%

Monday, Jan. 14

7:30 p.m. Eastern  spread Win prob. Score
Celtics -4 65%
Nets 35%
8 p.m.  spread Win prob. Score
Grizzlies 36%
Rockets -3.5 64%
8:30 p.m.  spread Win prob. Score
Hornets 30%
Spurs -5.5 70%
9 p.m.
Pistons 18%
Jazz -9 82%
10 p.m.
Trail Blazers 35%
Kings -4 65%
10:30 p.m.
Pelicans 44%
Clippers -1.5 56%

Tuesday, Jan. 15

7 p.m. Eastern  spread Win prob. Score
Timberwolves 25%
76ers -7 75%
7 p.m.  spread Win prob. Score
Suns 14%
Pacers -11 86%
7:30 p.m. spread Win prob. Score
Thunder -9 81%
Hawks 19%
8 p.m.
Heat 17%
Bucks -10 83%
9 p.m.
Warriors 43%
Nuggets -2 57%
10:30 p.m.
Bulls 21%
Lakers -8.5 79%

Wednesday, Jan. 16

7 p.m. Eastern  spread Win prob. Score
Magic 30%
Pistons -5.5 70%
8 p.m.  spread Win prob. Score
Nets 22%
Rockets -8 78%
8 p.m.  spread Win prob. Score
Bucks 47%
Grizzlies -0.5 53%
8 p.m.
Raptors 37%
Celtics -3.5 63%
8:30 p.m.
Spurs 41%
Mavericks -2.5 59%
10 p.m.
Cavaliers 8%
Trail Blazers -15 92%
10:30 p.m.
Pelicans 25%
Warriors -7 75%
10:30 p.m.
Jazz 47%
Clippers -0.5 53%

Thursday, Jan. 17

3 p.m. Eastern  spread Win prob. Score
Knicks 20%
Wizards -8.5 80%
7 p.m.  spread Win prob. Score
76ers 49%
Pacers PK 51%
7 p.m.  spread Win prob. Score
Kings 32%
Hornets -4.5 68%
7:30 p.m.
Suns 10%
Raptors -13.5 90%
9 p.m.
Bulls 6%
Nuggets -17.5 94%
9:30 p.m.
Lakers 14%
Thunder -11 86%

Friday, Jan. 18

7 p.m. Eastern  spread Win prob. Score
Nets 41%
Magic -2 59%
7 p.m.  spread Win prob. Score
Grizzlies 20%
Celtics -8.5 80%
7 p.m.  spread Win prob. Score
Heat 35%
Pistons -4 65%
8 p.m.
Spurs 27%
Timberwolves -6 73%
9 p.m.
Cavaliers 5%
Jazz -19 95%
10:30 p.m.
Warriors -6 73%
Clippers 27%
10:30 p.m.
Pelicans 41%
Trail Blazers -2 59%
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2018-19 NBA Predictions Dec 30-Saturday, Jan. 5

Sunday, Dec. 30

3:30 p.m. Eastern CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Pistons 45%
Magic -1 55%
6 p.m. CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Bulls 9%
Raptors -14.5 91%
6 p.m. CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Timberwolves 46%
Heat -1 54%
7 p.m.
Thunder 48%
Mavericks -0.5 52%
9 p.m.
76ers -2 59%
Trail Blazers 41%
9:30 p.m.
Kings 36%
Lakers -3.5 64%

Monday, Dec. 31 (New Year’s Eve)

3 p.m. Eastern CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Hawks 11%
Pacers -13 89%
6 p.m. CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Magic 22%
Hornets -8 78%
7 p.m. CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Celtics -4 65%
Spurs 35%
7 p.m.
Grizzlies 32%
Rockets -5 68%
8 p.m.
Mavericks 22%
Thunder -8 78%
8 p.m.
Timberwolves 29%
Pelicans -5.5 71%
9 p.m.
Warriors -9 81%
Suns 19%

Tuesday, Jan. 1 (New Year’s Day)

7:30 p.m. Eastern CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Jazz 28%
Raptors -6 72%
8 p.m. CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Pistons 20%
Bucks -9 80%
9 p.m. CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Knicks 8%
Nuggets -15.5 92%
9 p.m.
Trail Blazers -1 54%
Kings 46%
10:30 p.m.
76ers -2 59%
Clippers 41%

Wednesday, Jan. 2

7 p.m. Eastern CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Hawks 18%
Wizards -9.5 82%
7 p.m. CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Mavericks 30%
Hornets -5 70%
7 p.m. CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Heat -4 65%
Cavaliers 35%
7:30 p.m.
Pelicans -1 54%
Nets 46%
8 p.m.
Pistons 27%
Grizzlies -6 73%
8 p.m.
Timberwolves 24%
Celtics -7 76%
8 p.m.
Magic 48%
Bulls -0.5 52%
9 p.m.
76ers -5 69%
Suns 31%
10:30 p.m.
Thunder -2.5 59%
Lakers 41%

Thursday, Jan. 3

8 p.m. Eastern CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Raptors -4 65%
Spurs 35%
10 p.m. CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Nuggets -2.5 61%
Kings 39%
10:30 p.m. CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Rockets 18%
Warriors -9.5 82%

Friday, Jan. 4

7:30 p.m. Eastern CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Jazz -9 81%
Cavaliers 19%
8 p.m. CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Nets 27%
Grizzlies -6 73%
8 p.m. CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Mavericks 15%
Celtics -11 85%
8 p.m.
Pacers -5 68%
Bulls 32%
8 p.m.
Magic 21%
Timberwolves -8 79%
8 p.m.
Wizards 37%
Heat -3 63%
8:30 p.m.
Hawks 8%
Bucks -15 92%
9 p.m.
Clippers -1 54%
Suns 46%
10:30 p.m.
Knicks 15%
Lakers -11 85%
10:30 p.m.
Thunder -0.5 52%
Trail Blazers 48%

Saturday, Jan. 5

5 p.m. Eastern CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Hornets 19%
Nuggets -9 81%
7 p.m. CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Jazz 47%
Pistons -0.5 53%
7:30 p.m. CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Mavericks 13%
76ers -11.5 87%
8 p.m.
Pelicans -9 81%
Cavaliers 19%
8:30 p.m.
Grizzlies 37%
Spurs -3.5 63%
8:30 p.m.
Raptors 48%
Bucks -0.5 52%
10 p.m.
Warriors -7.5 77%
Kings 23%
10 p.m.
Rockets 45%
Trail Blazers -1 55%
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NBA Predictions-Friday, Nov. 2-8

  7 p.m. Eastern CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Clippers 34%
Magic -4 66%
7:30 p.m. CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Rockets -3 62%
Nets 38%
8 p.m. CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Pacers -3 61%
Bulls 39%
8 p.m.
Thunder 40%
Wizards -2.5 60%
8:30 p.m.
Knicks 31%
Mavericks -5 69%
9 p.m.
Grizzlies 14%
Jazz -11.5 86%
10 p.m.
Raptors -7.5 77%
Suns 23%
10:30 p.m.
Timberwolves 14%
Warriors -11.5 86%

Saturday, Nov. 3

  1 p.m. Eastern CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Pistons 22%
76ers -8 78%
7 p.m. CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Celtics -1 55%
Pacers 45%
7 p.m. CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Cavaliers 21%
Hornets -8.5 79%
7:30 p.m.
Heat -2.5 61%
Hawks 39%
8 p.m.
Rockets -6.5 73%
Bulls 27%
8:30 p.m.
Pelicans 48%
Spurs -0.5 52%
9 p.m.
Jazz 29%
Nuggets -5.5 71%
10 p.m.
Lakers 41%
Trail Blazers -2 59%

Sunday, Nov. 4

  3:30 p.m. Eastern CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Kings 12%
Bucks -12 88%
6 p.m. CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Knicks 14%
Wizards -11.5 86%
6 p.m. CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
76ers -0.5 52%
Nets 48%
7 p.m.
Magic 34%
Spurs -4 66%
8 p.m.
Grizzlies 49%
Suns PK 51%
9 p.m.
Timberwolves 46%
Trail Blazers -1 54%
9:30 p.m.
Raptors -2 59%
Lakers 41%

Monday, Nov. 5

  7 p.m. Eastern CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Cavaliers 37%
Magic -3.5 64%
7 p.m. CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Rockets 49%
Pacers PK 51%
7 p.m. CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Heat 39%
Pistons -2.5 61%
7:30 p.m.
Bulls 47%
Knicks -1 53%
8 p.m.
Pelicans 29%
Thunder -5.5 71%
9 p.m.
Celtics 34%
Nuggets -4 66%
9 p.m.
Raptors 31%
Jazz -5 69%
10:30 p.m.
Grizzlies 6%
Warriors -16.5 94%
10:30 p.m.
Timberwolves 45%
Clippers -1 55%

Tuesday, Nov. 6

  7 p.m. Eastern CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Hawks 17%
Hornets -10 83%
8:30 p.m. CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Wizards -2.5 60%
Mavericks 40%
9 p.m. CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Nets 49%
Suns -0.5 51%
10 p.m.
Bucks 47%
Trail Blazers -1 53%

Wednesday, Nov. 7

  7 p.m. Eastern CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Pistons 44%
Magic -1.5 56%
7 p.m. CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Thunder -5.5 71%
Cavaliers 29%
7:30 p.m. CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Knicks 42%
Hawks -2 58%
7:30 p.m.
Spurs 33%
Heat -4.5 67%
8 p.m.
Bulls 15%
Pelicans -11 85%
8 p.m.
Nuggets -2.5 60%
Grizzlies 40%
8 p.m.
76ers 44%
Pacers -1.5 56%
9 p.m.
Mavericks 7%
Jazz -15.5 93%
10 p.m.
Raptors -8 78%
Kings 22%
10:30 p.m.
Timberwolves 35%
Lakers -4 65%

Thursday, Nov. 8

  8 p.m. Eastern CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Rockets 44%
Thunder -1.5 56%
9 p.m. CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Celtics -6.5 74%
Suns 26%
10 p.m. CARMELO spread Win prob. Score
Clippers 27%
Trail Blazers -6 73%
10:30 p.m.
Bucks 19%
Warriors -9 81%
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NBA fines Green $25,000 for criticising officia

Draymond Green, who called the state of NBA officiating “ridiculous” after the Golden State Warriors’ 121-105 win over the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday, is now paying the price for his comments.

The NBA announced on Monday that Green has been fined $25,000 for public criticism of officiating.

Green vented his frustration after Saturday’s game, which saw him pick up his NBA-leading 11th technical foul of the season. He will face an automatic one-game suspension if he gets 16 technicals, and a one-game ban for every two technicals after that.

When asked to describe the current relationship between players and officials, Green did not hold back.

“It’s bad. It’s horrible. It’s really bad,” Green told The Athletic. “I don’t know why it is. But I think it’s ridiculous. It’s ruining the game. It should be one of, if not the main priority, to be solved. It definitely should.

“They can get a new crop [of referees], a whole new crop. Too many personal things going on. Too much me against you. It just don’t work that way.”

Green is not the first player to comment on the deteriorating relationship between players and officials, which has become a matter of concern on both sides. On Monday, Warriors star Stephen Curry said he thought Green sometimes did not get the benefit of the doubt from officials.

“There are certain situations where he has a certain mannerism about him, a certain disposition, that is different from other people,” Curry told reporters after Monday’s shootaround. “I’ve been on the court when just looking around like, ‘Why did he get a tech?’ He didn’t say anything, he didn’t do anything demonstrative. I’ve seen way worse; had a blind eye turned to it.

“And Draymond would admit there’s been situations on the other side where he’s gone overboard and they’ve handled it accordingly. It’s a give and take, but there have been more than enough instances where he’s tried to compose himself and tried to have that communication and he’s not given the benefit of the doubt.”

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NBA roundup: Bucks spoil Celtics’ emotional home opener

BOSTON — Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 16 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter as the Milwaukee Bucks spoiled the Boston Celtics’ emotional home opener with a 108-100 victory Wednesday night.

Boston, which lost for the second straight night under the cloud of the gruesome injury sustained by newcomer Gordon Hayward in Cleveland on Tuesday, appeared to tire late as the Bucks turned a six-point, fourth-quarter deficit into a win.

In addition to his points in the fourth quarter, Antetokounmpo had two steals, two (of his 13) rebounds and two assists as the Bucks used a 17-4 run to take control.
Hayward addressed the crowd pregame from his hospital bed, stating, “I’m gonna be all right.” With 3:21 left in the first half, the crowd broke into a chant of “Gor-don Hay-ward.” Hayward was undergoing surgery Wednesday night, his father tweeted.

Trail Blazers 124, Suns 76
PHOENIX — Damian Lillard scored 27 points and Portland handed Phoenix its worst loss in the 50-year history of the franchise.
The previous worst loss by a Suns team was by 44 points (151-107) to the Seattle SuperSonics on April 2, 1988. Phoenix trailed by as many as 58 points (118-60) midway through the fourth quarter and more than 50 until the final minute.
Pat Connaughton added 24 points for the Trail Blazers, who played without guard C.J. McCollum because of a one-game suspension and rookie center Zach Collins (stomach problems) but hardly missed them.

Rockets 105, Kings 100
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — James Harden scored nine of his 27 points during a decisive fourth-quarter spurt as Houston topped Sacramento.
Harden, playing 38 minutes one night after scoring a game-high 27 in a 122-121 victory over the defending champion Golden State Warriors, nailed three 3-pointers as the Rockets stretched a 75-74 lead to 92-81 over a five-minute stretch of the final quarter.
Houston played without Chris Paul, who sat out most of the fourth quarter in the win over the Warriors with a bruised left knee. Eric Gordon, starting in the backcourt for Paul, contributed 25 points and three assists. Clint Capela scored 22 points, made 10 of 12 shots from the field and also collected 17 rebounds for the Rockets. Harden added nine assists.

Wizards 120, 76ers 115
WASHINGTON — John Wall scored 18 of his 28 points in the second half, Bradley Beal had 25 and Washington opened the season with a victory over Philadelphia.
Marcin Gortat had 16 points and 17 rebounds for the Wizards. Kelly Oubre Jr. and Jodie Meeks each scored 14 points off the bench for Washington, which opened at home for the first time since 2011.
Joel Embiid had 18 points, 13 rebounds and one block in 27 minutes for the 76ers. Robert Covington had 29 points and sank 7 of 11 3-pointers, and Ben Simmons finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds in his NBA debut after missing all of last season with a foot injury.

Pacers 140, Nets 131
INDIANAPOLIS — Victor Oladipo scored 22 points to lead eight Indiana players in double figures as the Pacers topped Brooklyn in the season opener for both teams.
Oladipo, a former Indiana University standout, was making his regular-season debut after coming to Indiana from Oklahoma City with Domantas Sabonis in the Paul George trade. Sabonis scored 16 points.
D’Angelo Russell was high for the Nets with 30 points on 12-of-22 shooting. Trevor Booker added 20 points and 10 rebounds. Brooklyn’s Jeremy Lin, who scored 18 points, was hurt with 4:53 left and needed help to get off the court with an apparent right knee injury.

Spurs 107, Timberwolves 99
SAN ANTONIO — LaMarcus Aldridge scored 25 points and pulled down 10 rebounds to lead San Antonio over Minnesota in the season opener for both teams.
Danny Green added 17 points for the Spurs, who won the first game of their season for the 19th time in the 21 years Gregg Popovich has been coach. Dejounte Murray hit for 16 while Rudy Gay scored 14, and Kyle Anderson tallied 12 points and took nine rebounds for San Antonio.
Andrew Wiggins led the Timberwolves with 26 points, and Karl-Anthony Towns racked up his first double-double of the season with 18 points and 13 rebounds. Jimmy Butler, one of Minnesota’s flashy offseason, free agent signings, added 12 points.

Grizzlies 103, Pelicans 91
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Mike Conley scored 27 points as Memphis defeated New Orleans in the season opener for both teams.
The Pelicans got double-doubles from Anthony Davis (33 points, 18 rebounds) and DeMarcus Cousins (28 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high seven blocks). Cousins also picked up his first technical of the season with 50 seconds left.
Conley got support from Marc Gasol, who posted 14 points and 11 rebounds plus four assists. Rookie Dillon Brooks scored 19 points with five rebounds and four steals in his NBA debut for the Grizzlies.

Jazz 106, Nuggets 96
SALT LAKE CITY — Rudy Gobert had 18 points and 10 rebounds, and Alec Burks added 16 points off the bench to lift Utah over Denver in the opener for both teams.
Derrick Favors added 14 points and Joe Johnson chipped in 13 for the Jazz. Utah used hot fourth-quarter shooting to rally after trailing by as many as 15 points, going 9 of 18 from the field in the final 12 minutes.
Will Barton scored 23 points to lead the Nuggets. Paul Millsap added 19 points in his Denver debut, and Gary Harris chipped in 14. The Nuggets could not overcome a cold shooting fourth quarter, making only five field goals.

Hawks 117, Mavericks 111
DALLAS — Dennis Schroder scored 28 points to lead Atlanta past Dallas in the season opener for both teams.
Marco Belinelli and John Collins combined to add 34 points off the bench as Atlanta extended its winning streak to eight against Dallas. With the score tied at 111, Dewayne Dedmon gave Atlanta the lead for good with a rebound and putback with 58 seconds left.
Mavericks rookie Dennis Smith Jr., a 19-year-old point guard, looked like a veteran while running the offense, producing 16 points and 10 assists in his first NBA game. Nerlens Noel had 16 points and 11 rebounds backing up Dirk Nowitzki, who shot only 4 of 14 and scored 10.

Pistons 102, Hornets 90
DETROIT — Tobias Harris poured in 27 points, and Detroit celebrated its first regular-season game at Little Caesars Arena with a victory over Charlotte.
Harris also grabbed 10 rebounds in the new downtown building. Avery Bradley, who was acquired in a trade with Boston during the summer, had 15 points in his Pistons debut. Langston Galloway contributed 16 points off the bench.
Kemba Walker’s 24 points led the Hornets in the opener for both teams. Jeremy Lamb added 15 points, and Dwight Howard supplied 10 points and 15 rebounds in his Hornets debut. Howard was acquired in an offseason trade with Atlanta.

Magic 116, Heat 109
ORLANDO, Fla. — Evan Fournier scored 23 points, including seven in the last two minutes, to lead Orlando over Miami.
It was the first time since 2012 the Magic won their season opener. Orlando rode a well-balanced attack with six players scoring at least 12 points. Nikola Vucevic led the way with 19 points and 13 rebounds, and Terrence Ross had 15 points.
The Heat’s Hassan Whiteside posted game highs with 26 points and 22 rebounds. He had 14 points in the fourth quarter to lead a comeback that fell short

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NBA outlook: Four challengers will make Warriors work

Ghidorah took down Godzilla, the Great Depression crumpled Wall Street, and Buster Douglas put Mike Tyson on his tush, so there must be a team that can challenge the Golden State Warriors for the NBA championship this season, right?

There are four legitimate contenders, in fact, to the throne on which the Warriors perched last June after beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games in the NBA Finals.

The most important thing, perhaps, is that the Cavaliers, the Houston Rockets, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the San Antonio Spurs all believe they can beat the Warriors and, inevitably, win the 2017-18 title.

“There’s an aura of respect for how good they are, but not necessarily a feeling of their invincibility,” says Terry Stotts, whose Portland Trail Blazers have been ousted from the playoffs by Golden State in each of the past two seasons. “They’re a great team. they’ve won two of the last three NBA championships, and it easily could have been three out of three. Everybody in the league has a healthy respect for what they’ve done, and they have everybody back.

“But invincibility? I don’t think players or coaches in the NBA would ever view an opponent like that. You’ve lost before you played the game.”

Cleveland has the best chance for one main reason — LeBron James — and a lot of secondary ones.
The Cavaliers went to the NBA Finals each of the past three years, too, winning the 2016 crown and losing to the Warriors in ’15 and ’17. Kyrie Irving was dealt to the Boston Celtics, but most of the roster from last season returns, including power forward Kevin Love, center Tristan Thompson and shooting guards J.R. Smith and Kyle Korver.

And the Cavs have added four key pieces — point guard Isaiah Thomas, who will miss the early portions of the season while rehabbing a hip injury; shooting guard Dwyane Wade, point guard Derrick Rose and small forward Jae Crowder. Coach Tyron Lue has a lineup every bit as deep — and perhaps as talented — as Golden State’s.

The biggest issues will be health and age. Thomas’ hip is a question mark, and Rose has not had an injury-free season since 2011. James (32), Korver (36), Smith (32), Wade (35), Channing Frye (34) and Jeff Green (31) are all on the wrong side of 30.

Houston might be the biggest threat to Golden State in the Western Conference. The Rockets, who won 55 games and made it to the West semifinals a year ago, added master maestro Chris Paul to team with James Harden for perhaps the most potent backcourt in the league.

“That’s going to be interesting,” Stotts says. “Paul is really good at making other players better. He’ll make it a little easier on Harden to have a great season, but his impact will be when James is out of the game.
“I have so much respect for what Chris is able to do. He makes his team better. That will be their biggest advantage.”

History says good-offense/bad-defense teams rarely win a title, but Houston coach Mike D’Antoni added defensive specialist Luc Mbah a Moute along with Paul, a seven-time NBA All-Defensive first-team selection.

Oklahoma City made the biggest splash in the offseason, adding perennial All-Star forwards Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Russell Westbrook. The question: Will there be enough shots for all three?
“They’re all great players,” Stotts says. “They can play the right way. They want to win. When it comes to winning, they’ll figure out a way to make it work.”
San Antonio is the NBA’s version of the NFL’s New England Patriots — Old Man River as a perennial championship contender.

“(The Spurs) just keep rolling along,” Stotts says. “They won a quiet 61 games last year, and they still get overlooked. They’re in the position they love. Everybody is talking about Golden State and Oklahoma City. They’ll just roll along and do what they do.”

Small forward Kawhi Leonard is the straw that stirs the drink for the Spurs, but there is plenty of returning talent around him, including power forwards LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol, point guards Tony Parker and Patty Mills and shooting guards Danny Green and Manu Ginobili. The Spurs added another seasoned veteran — small forward Rudy Gay — who will provide pop at the offensive end.

The Warriors are everybody’s favorite to repeat, and they should be. But don’t make arrangements for that championship parade in the Bay Area just yet

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The actual top 100 NBA players of 2017

As we endeavor to embarrass our future selves predict who will be the best NBA players in 2021 this week, it seemed appropriate to flash back to the last time we pulled this nonsense engaged in this exercise.

Back in 2013, a collection of NBA writers predicted who would be the top 100 players in 2017.

It is now 2017. So let’s find out how we did back then.

Of course, to help us determine that, we need to have some sort of idea of who the actual top 100 NBA players of 2017 are. This is somewhat controversial, but we do not present the list solely for the purposes of arguing.

This list was only developed as a way to learn from our predictions of four years ago. What types of players did we overvalue or undervalue? What is the actual difficulty in predicting players’ futures — assessing how players will age, how they will develop, who will get injured?

We share those learnings in a separate piece. Here, we just lay out the top 100 players of 2017 to use as our baseline for that effort. In parenthesis: our projected rankings for these players four years ago.

Enjoy.

100. Rodney Hood (NR)
Hood probably would have been 30 spots higher if this list had been made in 2016. Basketball is weird.
99. Julius Randle (14)
Randle remains one of the most divisive young players in the NBA. His free agency is coming up soon and should be educational.
98. Andre Roberson (NR)
It’s hard to know where to rank defense-only players given the fact that defense is undervalued and easier to purchase on the market. But Roberson is such a good defender that he definitely belongs in the top 25 percent in the league.
97. Wilson Chandler (NR)
Wilson Chandler quietly puts up solid numbers in Denver when he’s healthy and not playing in China. Keep in mind that being the No. 97 player in the league puts you on what would be 20th team All-NBA. Coming in here is a compliment for sure, but it’s not that high of a compliment.
96. Ryan Anderson (67)
Anderson’s contract is gnarly — too gnarly to move, in fact — but he’s quite a productive and useful player.
95. Robin Lopez (NR)
Lopez is a good defender who offers high-efficiency, low-volume offense. Quite a useful big man in today’s NBA.
94. Will Barton (NR)
Microwave bench scorers who don’t demand to start are valuable.
93. Zach Randolph (NR)
He still gets buckets and rebounds well into his 30s.
92. Jonas Valanciunas (18)
Valanciunas has never really put it all together — I am among those who swore he’d be an All-Star someday — but as with Lopez and others, he does enough to be quite useful at worst.
91. D’Angelo Russell (NR)
This is some projection to be sure, but Russell has a few tools that should serve him well, even if never becomes the star the Lakers originally saw him becoming.
90. T.J. Warren (NR)
One of my favorite young players in the league.
89. Nerlens Noel (25)
The less we talk about Nerlens Noel at this point, the better.
88. Jae Crowder (NR)
We’re not really considering contracts in this exercise. If we were, the ultra-affordable Crowder would be even higher. As it is, he’s a valuable wing defender and shooter who fits into a role. That’s so useful.
87. Pau Gasol (NR)
Gasol’s status is debatable at this point. But even though he’s a major minus on defense at this stage of his career, he gets buckets and rebounds. He can still pass like a maestro, too.
86. Khris Middleton (NR)
This may be too low for Middleton, a classic three-and-D who serves the defense-first Bucks quite well.
85. Dirk Nowitzki (NR)
Dirk is still doing it.
84. Enes Kanter (52)
Kanter would have been a prime player in the ‘90s or early ‘00s. These days, he’s a value reserve scorer and rebounder. You still need good reserves in the NBA!
83. Trevor Ariza (NR)
A leggy, energetic and smart defender who is just perfect for the Rockets’ frenetic style (provided it continues to be frenetic under the yoke of Chris Paul).
82. Joe Ingles (NR)
Slow Mo Joe is a cerebral, skilled forward who can shoot and pass quite well. He should take on extra importance with Gordon Hayward gone.
81. Dwight Howard (15)
There’s a serious argument to be made that Howard doesn’t belong on this list. But I value interior defense and rebounding enough to find him a spot.
80. Robert Covington (NR)
Covington is one of the best success stories in the NBA.
79. Cody Zeller (86)
Zeller has largely met expectations in Charlotte. I’m not sure there’s another leap up for him, but he’s already solid.
78. Aaron Gordon (92)
Someone, please, for the love of the Basketball Gods and all that is holy, figure out how to use Aaron Gordon in the NBA.
77. Zach LaVine (NR)
Someone, please, for the love of the Basketball Gods and all that is holy, let Zach LaVine come back as bouncy as ever.
76. Jabari Parker (26)
Someone, please, for the love of the Basketball Gods and all that is holy, don’t let Jabari go out like Brandon Roy. We’ve been hurt too many times.
75. Steven Adams (NR)
While I am concerned about the loss of the mustache, I remain confident Adams will bounce back from a down year to provide strong supplemental scoring and plenty of rebounding and defense for the Thunder.
74. Danilo Gallinari (64)
Gallo is an extremely competent scorer, and scoring matters a great deal in the NBA.
73. James Johnson (NR)
What a career twist in Miami!
72. Andre Iguodala (NR)
Still D.R.E.
71. Serge Ibaka (19)
The Serge Ibaka Drop-off has been greatly exaggerated. He was one of the most valuable Raptors down the stretch of last season, and his defense remains key.
70. Jeff Teague (76)
I don’t know exactly why the Wolves paid Teague so much more than what Ricky Rubio would have cost, but that doesn’t mean Teague is bad. He’s a good scorer and able to fit in around more talented teammates.
69. Dion Waiters (73)
Praise be the Clutch God, the King of Onions, the Master of Daggers.
68. Tristan Thompson (55)
Flexible defense from your big man is still highly important, as is rebounding.
67. Ricky Rubio (30)
Defense and passing are really important skills for a point guard, it turns out.
66. Reggie Jackson (NR)
Jackson is a tough player to rank. This grade requires you to believe the Jackson that led Detroit to a good record and playoff berth two years ago is the real Jackson. We’ll see.
65. Markieff Morris (NR)
Morris made quite a nice role for himself on a good Wizards team. We’ll see if his twin can do the same on the hated Celtics.
64. Victor Oladipo (44)
Oladipo isn’t equal value in a trade for Paul freaking George, but we shouldn’t hold that against him. He’s a solid two-way two guard in a league full of them.
63. Nicolas Batum (61)
Batum didn’t actually have a down year after signing his big contract, and 15-6-6 is nothing to sneeze at.
62. Dennis Schroder (74)
You never know. Being freed from the shackles of having a role on a good team could be wonderful for Schroder’s numbers.
61. Nikola Vucevic (69)
Vooch puts up numbers on a mystifying Orlando team.
60. Gary Harris (NR)
Harris is quickly climbing the two-guard rankings. There aren’t many you’d rather have at this point.
59. JaMychal Green (NR)
It’s hard to know whether Green is a product of Memphis’ morphing system or whether he’d be this good anywhere.
58. Patrick Beverley (NR)
Perhaps the best defender at point guard in the league, and a reliable shooter. His fit in Los Angeles will be fascinating. He’s not really a Doc Rivers type.
57. Eric Gordon (47)
Gordon stayed healthy in 2016-17, and that’s always been the only thing holding him back. He’s a dynamo scorer who can shoot and get to the rim.
56. Jrue Holiday (23)
He has to learn how to properly feed Anthony Davis and Boogie Cousins. If he does, Holiday should be just the third banana New Orleans needs.
55. Dwyane Wade (60)
Dwyane Wade at 60 percent is better than most two guards at 100 percent.
54. Evan Fournier (NR)
Efficient, young 17-point scorers don’t grow on trees!
53. Tobias Harris (41)
Lost in the Pistons’ disaster season is the fact that Harris continues to be a really solid NBA forward.
52. George Hill (NR)
I’m not sure how Hill will succeed in Sacramento — or what success would even look like there — but he proved his worth in Utah last year.
51. J.J. Redick (NR)
Trust the Process.
50. Myles Turner (NR)
Perhaps Turner deserves to be much higher on this list. He should get a big bump in usage rate this season. Let’s see how he deals with those extra possessions on offense.
49. Carmelo Anthony (33)
In the top-100 list in our hearts, Hoodie Melo is No. 1.
48. Otto Porter (97)
Porter will get extra scrutiny because of his enormous contract, but ignoring the money, he was incredibly valuable for a good Wizards team last season.
47. Avery Bradley (78)
How much losing Bradley hurts the Celtics will be an interesting plot line to follow this season.
46. Clint Capela (NR)
The perfect center for James Harden and probably Chris Paul.
45. Brook Lopez (17)
When do they build the Brook Lopez statue in Brooklyn?
44. Joel Embiid (NR)
Is 44 Embiid’s rank in today’s NBA, or the number of games he’ll play next season? Your call.
43. Goran Dragic (NR)
Dragic was a key engine behind Miami’s shocking run to the edge of the playoff race. He’s goooood.
42. LaMarcus Aldridge (21)
Aldridge has been a relative disappointment in San Antonio, but he’s still among the better power forwards in the NBA.
41. Harrison Barnes (40)
There are 24-30 All-Stars in any given season, depending on injuries. So consider that Barnes is just a bit outside that range. He’s not Kevin Durant, and he’s not really modern wing in the sense that he can’t draw fouls or get to the rim, but he’s pretty good.
40. Al Horford (37)
Horford had a slow start with Boston, but he quickly became a key cog and fan-favorite.
39. Andre Drummond (3)
I don’t even want to start talking about this.
38. Hassan Whiteside (NR)
The Instagram King and 20-10 machine!
37. Kevin Love (11)
It’s going to be really interesting to see how Love is featured in a post-Kyrie world.
36. Eric Bledsoe (46)
Bledsoe had one of the best quiet seasons in the league in 2016-17. His talents are being shrouded in bad Phoenix.
35. Devin Booker (NR)
Booker is also in Phoenix, but his spectacular offense is able to pull attention because of the gaudy numbers.
34. Kristaps Porzingis (NR)
Porzingis is already the best Knick (Hoodie Melo plays for no one), and he had an All-Star case a year ago. Odds are he gets there this season.
33. Andrew Wiggins (8)
The divisive Andrew Wiggins. Twenty-three points on not-inefficient shooting, though?
32. Kemba Walker (96)
Kemba!
31. C.J. McCollum (NR)
Just need a little more defense and a trade to the East to get him onto the All-Star team.
30. Bradley Beal (38)
Health and a new coach unlocked the Bradley Beal experience for all to enjoy. Keep it up.
29. Mike Conley (51)
Still the most underrated player in the NBA, seven years running.
28. Marc Gasol (35)
If he weren’t on the wrong side of 32, he’d be a few spots higher.
27. Paul Millsap (91)
Ditto Millsap, who should nonetheless be a solid influence in Denver’s revamped attack.
26. DeAndre Jordan (100)
Jordan took a huge step forward in Blake Griffin’s absence last year, and it’ll be interesting to see how he fares without Chris Paul running the show.
25. DeMar DeRozan (NR)
The mid-range god.
24. Kyle Lowry (NR)
You wonder how Lowry feels about the Cavs-Celtics point guard swap. Does Lowry see a path through either or both teams now?
23. Nikola Jokic (NR)
Jokic had the fastest rise in reputation I think I’ve ever seen.
22. Blake Griffin (10)
Griffin is divisive. I think he can still be a top-10 player if he’s in a good place mentally. Still, I don’t know where his head is. No. 22 seems safe.
21. DeMarcus Cousins (22)
Incredible numbers and everyone will be watching him.
20. Isaiah Thomas (NR)
Note that I ranked Thomas one spot below Irving before the blockbuster trade. The gap is larger taking the future into account; I’m looking only at a moment in time. I do think Jae Crowder makes up that gap in this moment in time, and I believe the other assets close the longer-term gap as well.
19. Kyrie Irving (6)
But still, Kyrie is better right now.
18. Gordon Hayward (80)
Hayward hasn’t played with a point guard like Kyrie since his very early days in Utah (Deron Williams). It might be a wild adjustment.
17. Rudy Gobert (NR)
Defense matters.
16. Klay Thompson (83)
And so does shooting.
15. Damian Lillard (42)
Dame is probably a top-5 most exciting player to watch.
14. Draymond Green (NR)
New Pippen remains an absolute treasure on the overpowered Warriors.
13. Chris Paul (16)
The fit in Houston could be awkward while CP3 and James Harden figure things out, but CP3 always figures things out.*
(* Applies only from October to mid-April.**)
(** Sorry, that was rude.)
12. Paul George (13)
Paul George!
11. John Wall (20)
John Wall!
10. Jimmy Butler (58)
JIMMY BUTLER!
9. Karl-Anthony Towns (NR)
I’ll be shocked if Towns isn’t an All-Star and first team All-NBA center. He’s here.
8. Giannis Antetokounmpo (79)
Future MVP.
7. Anthony Davis (7)
FUTURE MVP. (What a huge season for A.D.)
6. Russell Westbrook (4)
Current MVP.
5. James Harden (9)
Eternal MVP bridesmaid.
4. Kawhi Leonard (24)
Legitimately in the running for the best player in the world.
3. Stephen Curry (12)
Greatest shooter ever by a substantial margin.
2. Kevin Durant (1)
Neck-and-neck for Greatest Player Alive status.
1. LeBron James (2)
… but LeBron is still the king. And maaaybe the G.O.A.T.

(Tom Ziller)