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NBA-Midweek Basketball-Lakers open post Kobe era against D’Antoni and the Rockets

Heat at Magic (-4, 200) – 7:05 PM EST

The battle of the Sunshine State will showcase plenty of new faces in the opening matchup of the season. Dwyane Wade is off to Chicago, while Chris Bosh remains out with blood clots for Miami as the Heat will be challenged in their defense of the Southeast division title. Miami grabbed three of four meetings from Orlando last season, while riding a five-game winning streak in season openers since 2011. With Wade and Bosh not in the picture, the two leading scorers returning for Miami are center Hassan Whiteside (14.2 ppg) and point guard Goran Dragic (14.1 ppg).

Orlando has a brand new head coach in Frank Vogel after spending the last six seasons with Indiana, which included five playoff appearances. The Magic parted ways with former lottery pick Victor Oladipo, while acquiring veterans Serge Ibaka and Bismack Biyombo to bolster their frontcourt. Orlando finished in the cellar of the Southeast with a 35-47 record, which included a 4-12 mark against division foes. However, the Magic started last season cashing its first seven games, although six of those covers came in the underdog role.

Mavericks at Pacers (-6 ½, 206 ½) – 7:05 PM EST

The clock on Dallas continues to tick as this veteran squad got younger in one aspect by inking former Warrior Harrison Barnes to a long-term deal. Dallas slumped to a 2-5 record in the preseason, while averaging 94 ppg, which ranked second-to-last in the Western Conference. The Mavericks finished tied for second place in the Southwest last season at 42-40, while winning seven of their final nine games to sneak into the playoffs. Dallas has covered four consecutive season openers, including a 3-0 ATS mark as a road underdog.

The Pacers are back in the discussion of a top-four team in the Eastern Conference behind the Cavaliers, Celtics, and Raptors. Indiana pushed the tempo in the preseason by averaging 107.2 ppg under new head coach Nate McMillan, while newly acquired point guard Jeff Teague put up 13 ppg in the preseason. The Pacers have won four of their past five season openers, while capturing each of the previous four matchups with the Mavericks since 2014.

Pistons at Raptors (-7 ½, 195) – 7:05 PM EST

Both these teams were knocked out by the champion Cavaliers in the playoffs last season as Detroit was swept by Cleveland in the opening round. The Pistons start this campaign without point guard Reggie Jackson, who is sidelined with a knee injury for at least a month. Detroit posted its first winning season since 2008 with a 44-38 mark in 2016, but won only 18 games away from the Palace of Auburn Hills. Last season, the Pistons jumped out to an impressive 5-1 SU/ATS record with all five wins coming in the underdog role.

The Raptors’ roster pretty remained intact withBismack Biyombo being the lone departure to Orlando in the offseason. Toronto finished with one fewer victory than Cleveland for the top seed in the Eastern Conference before bowing out to the Cavaliers in the conference finals. The Raptors owned the second-best home record in the East at 32-9, while Toronto started 5-0 SU/ATS last season and eclipsed the 100-point mark in each of those wins.

Wolves at Grizzlies (-2, 199) – 8:05 PM EST

Minnesota is expected to turn heads in the Western Conference this season after hiring Tom Thibodeau as head coach and president of basketball operations. Thibodeau took the Bulls to five straight playoff appearances from 2011 through 2015 as he looks to lead Minnesota to its first postseason berth since 2004. The Wolves closed last season winning four of their final five games to finish at 29-53, while compiling a 6-3 SU and 7-2 ATS record in their last nine road contests.

The Grizzlies flamed out in the opening round of the playoffs last season in a four-game sweep to the Spurs. Memphis is back to full health with center Marc Gasol and point guard Mike Conley in the lineup after each missed the final few months of 2016 due to injury. How bad was it for Memphis down the stretch? The Grizzlies made the playoffs in spite of losing 10 of their final 11 games to finish at 42-40, while compiling a 26-15 record at FedEx Forum. Memphis and Minnesota split four matchups last season as all four games eclipsed the OVER.

Thunder (-8 ½, 208) at 76ers – 8:05 PM EST

The post-Kevin Durant era begins in Oklahoma City as Russell Westbrook is the leader of this Thunder squad moving forward. OKC re-tooled its team heading into this season as the Thunder are not the favorites to win the Northwest after a 55-27 campaign and a Western Conference finals appearance. The Thunder won nine of 15 road games last season against Eastern Conference opponents, including a 111-97 victory at Philadelphia as 15 ½-point favorites.

Philadelphia won a grand total of 10 games last season, while losing 30 of its first 31 contests. The 76ers grabbed LSU phenom Ben Simmons with the top pick in the draft, but he’s sidelined with a broken bone in his right foot. Philadelphia began last season with a 2-9-1 ATS record in its first 12 games as a home underdogs, while winning its first game in the home ‘dog role in January against Minnesota.

Rockets (-6 ½, 223) at Lakers – 10:35 PM EST

Mike D’Antoni makes his return to the bench, taking over as Rockets’ head coach following an unsuccessful stint as head man of the Lakers from 2012-2014. The Rockets put up ridiculous scoring numbers in the preseason by averaging 118.6 ppg, including four games of 120 points or more. Houston swept the four-game series from Los Angeles last season with every victory coming by double-digits. James Harden averaged 31.5 ppg in the four wins over the Lakers as the Rockets own a 6-0 SU/ATS record in the past six visits to Staples Center.

The Lakers begin a brand new era following Kobe Bryant’s retirement after last season’s disastrous 17-65 mark. Luke Walton came over from Golden State to become the head coach, while Los Angeles signed veterans Luol Deng and Timofey Mozgov to go along with emerging star D’Angelo Russell. The Lakers closed last season with four consecutive covers at Staples Center as Los Angeles seeks its first opening night win since upsetting the Clippers in 2013.

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