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Indiana Pacers (-3.5) vs. San Antonio Spurs 

Sitting through the entirety of this game might require a strong stomach – bettors beware! The Pacers and Spurs started the season among the franchises most firmly turning their eyes from success to the possibility of landing one of the big prizes in a loaded 2023 NBA Draft.

The Spurs lived up to that billing in their opener, getting routed by the Hornets at home. The Pacers, however, looked much feistier, testing Washington deep into the fourth quarter. A young core of Pacers, led by budding 22-year old star Tyrese Haliburton, will certainly lose enough games to keep Indiana in the hunt at the top of the lottery, yet will be a tougher out than opposing teams would hope.

Seeing Terry Taylor, a G-League call-up, in the opening day starting lineup was a bad sign for Pacers fans, though Haliburton and other hard-nosed Pacers like Chris Duarte, TJ McConnell, and rookie Bennedict Mathurin won’t go down without a fight.

The Spurs, despite the engrained culture of success in San Antonio, seem a little more resigned to their fate this season, especially with a little more competition in the race to the bottom of the Western Conference. Indiana’s a half-step better than the Spurs, with a touch more motivation to get the win.

Detroit Pistons (+6.5) at New York Knicks 

Every NBA season has a few teams with a fun, young core of players that are easy to get excited about but aren’t quite ready for the expectations. The Pistons started to get a little bit of that buzz, despite being led primarily by players very early in their careers. That hype grew with a season-opening win, behind 18 points and 10 assists from Cade Cunningham.

A follow-up in Madison Square Garden’s home opener this season would seem to be a spot to doubt the young Pistons, yet I like their chances to quiet the New York crowd. Bogdan Bogdanovic led Detroit with 21 points in the opener, stepping up as the veteran leader any team on the rise needs.

Keep an eye on a hot shooting night from Kevin Knox off the bench for Detroit, looking for a little revenge against his former club. Nothing we’ve seen from him in the past, including his 1-6 outing from deep on Wednesday, would suggest that this is coming, but that’s the exact kind of thing that would happen to the always-downtrodden Knicks.

Toronto Raptors (+3) at Brooklyn Nets 

There’s no limit to how prepared I am to fade this Brooklyn Nets team throughout this season. Despite one of the most talented rosters in the NBA, the Nets are plagued by the lingering drama spouting from Ben Simmons’ arrival, Kevin Durant’s near-departure, and, well, Kyrie Irving’s general state of existence.

Seemingly tasked with corralling that talent into a workable, competitive NBA team is Steve Nash, who has looked more overwhelmed than capable in his first foray onto the sidelines.

The Nets were handily dispatched in their season-opener by the Pelicans on Wednesday night, with the questions about the Brooklyn roster proving true. Simmons fouled out in just 23 minutes of play, attempting only three field goals and firing 0-2 from the free throw line. Kyrie Irving, meanwhile, was 6-19 from the field, missing all six of his attempts from long range.

The Nets welcome a 1-0 Raptors squad to Brooklyn Friday night. No team has more Swiss Army knife options to pick and paw at a team’s weaknesses than Toronto. Nick Nurse gives the Raps a major advantage, reason enough to nab Toronto and points Friday night.

Golden State Warriors (-6.5) vs. Denver Nuggets 

Nuggets’ optimism has to have waned after Denver was clowned by the lowly Utah Jazz to start the season. Nikola Jokic and company should bounce back, though the schedule does them no favours here. From a loss in Utah to a road date in the Bay Area, facing the reigning champs.

The Nuggets will right the ship, even if it takes time for Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. time to find their sea legs returning from injuries. This venue and opponent aren’t the time for that to happen, especially with the Denver bench’s struggles in Salt Lake on Wednesday night.

When the Warriors smell blood in the water they pounce. It may be October, but this game could have implications down the line for the playoffs. Steve Kerr will have his guys ready.