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Eastern Conference Division Sleeper Teams – Basketball Insiders

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After years as the inferior conference, there seems to be some optimism that the East may be deeper than the West this season. After a fast and furious summer that included trades, the draft and free agency, the landscape of the league has changed quite a bit in the span of just a couple of months. The three divisions in the Eastern Conference are oozing with storylines, with title contenders in each of them.

While they may have gotten the majority of the spotlight this summer, there lies a sleeper in each division that could very well upset the apple cart over the course of an 82-game season. The Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks and Miami HEAT are the favorites for good reason but don’t overlook these three teams that could surprise everyone.

Atlantic Division – Toronto Raptors

The only team in this division to actually win a championship in the last decade is the Raptors. Obviously, the roster looks much different now without Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry, but the core is still intact. It was a miserable season last year for the entire organization, playing their “home” games thousands of miles from home and being away from their families. Pascal Siakam looked like the player we saw in the Orlando bubble and the starting center position was about as bad as it could get during the first few months of the season.

The emergence of Chris Boucher and the strong play of Fred VanVleet eventually got things turned around midway through the year. Siakam finally returned to form in the latter stages of the season and OG Anunoby continued his promising development on the offensive side of the floor. The point guard position is still an area of concern, with rumors swirling that Goran Dragic is not long to stay in Toronto, but the Raptors have some new additions that could fill vital roles for them.

Precious Achiuwa came over as part of the trade for Lowry and the team selected Scottie Barnes with the fourth overall pick in the draft. The core is still young, and they will likely have to go through Brooklyn, but with the uncertainty in Philadelphia with Ben Simmons and the possible regression in Boston and New York, Nick Nurse and the Raptors could find themselves back in the playoffs once again.

Central Division – Indiana Pacers

There are storylines concerning every team within this division, beginning with the defending champions in Milwaukee. They return most of their roster and will be more than capable of defending their title. The Chicago Bulls were the darling of the offseason after their massive moves for Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan and Alex Caruso. The Detroit Pistons and Cleveland Cavaliers have the top two picks of the draft in Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. Then there is the team sitting quietly in Indiana.

The real sleepers of the East, the Pacers return most of their core and added some solid contributors as well. Chris Duarte looked impressive during Summer League, as did fellow rookie Isaiah Jackson. They are long, athletic pieces that fit in well with the rest of this group. Torrey Craig was a sneaky pickup in free agency and they were able to hold on to TJ McConnell, who led the league in steals (128) last season.

The real upside with this team is the return of their starters, who were injured for the majority of last year. Their projected starting five of Malcolm Brogdon, Caris LeVert, TJ Warren, Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner played a grand total of zero minutes together last season. If those five remain healthy, that is one of the better starting units in the league. The return of Rick Carlisle was a homerun hire. One of the best coaches in the game returns to Indiana where he has some unfinished business.

Southeast Division – Washington Wizards

This is undoubtedly the biggest turnaround from a division standpoint heading into the season. The inevitable rebuild in Orlando has begun. After years of mediocrity and subpar results, the Atlanta Hawks and Charlotte Hornets are both poised for breakout seasons. Their rosters are built upon youth and potential, with some serious star power at the point guard position. Miami will certainly be the favorites here after winning the offseason, but they will have some stiff competition.

After Washington traded Russell Westbrook to the Los Angeles Lakers, all of the focus was on what it means for the team in California. On the opposite side of the country, there was a major roster shakeup in the Nation’s capital. The Wizards acquired some fantastic pieces in that trade, including Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. No longer in small roles, these three should flourish alongside franchise cornerstone Bradley Beal. Washington’s biggest new addition came at the point guard position with Spencer Dinwiddie.

Now fully healthy, Dinwiddie is an ideal fit next to Beal and the two close friends should have no issues sharing the ball. Rui Hachimura is a strong breakout candidate this year and the development of their youngsters like Deni Avdija, Aaron Holiday and rookie Corey Kispert make Washington an incredibly deep team. Thomas Bryant is returning from injury after a strong start to last season. If Davis Bertans can get back to performing at a high level, the Wizards will be a serious playoff team this year.





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Preview, Prediction and Betting Odds

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The Houston Rockets opens a new season sans James Harden for the first time since 2012, going up against the up-and-coming Minnesota Timberwolves on Wednesday, October 20, 8:00 P.M EST at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. BetOnline odds are posted below.

Game Information

Start time: 8 p.m. ET

Location: Target Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota 

TV channels: NBA League Pass, AT&T SportsNet Southwest, Fox Sports North

Live stream: fuboTV (seven-day free trial)

Houston Rockets vs. Minnesota Timberwolves Betting Lines

Point Spread: Rockets +6.5

Money Line: Wolves -245/Rockets +205

Total: Over/Under 231.5

Houston Rockets vs Minnesota Timberwolves News

The Rockets have made minor roster changes just before they kick off their 2021-22 NBA season campaign. Houston waived forward Anthony Lamb. Filling in his place is Garrison Matthews, whose contract was converted to a two-way from Exhibit 10.

The Timberwolves, meanwhile, picked up the third-year option of Anthony Edwards and Jordan McDaniels, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic. Edwards, the No.1 pick of the 2020 NBA Draft, bucked off a less than stellar start to put up explosive numbers after the All-Star break, during which he exploded for 23.3 points per game to shore up his season average to 19.3 PPG with 4.7 RPG and 2.9 APG.

Houston Rockets vs. Minnesota Timberwolves Injury Report

The Rockets will head into Wednesday’s matchup with the Wolves, with almost all key players available to play. Danuel House Jr. is listed questionable due to personal reasons, but the sharpshooter might eventually suit up for the up and running Rockets. 

On the other end, the Wolves will be starting the season with defensive specialist Patrick Beverley serving the one-game suspension assessed on him following a shoving incident with Chris Paul in the minutes of the Clippers-Suns Western Conference finals series. Beverley spent the past few seasons with the Clippers before he got shipped this offseason to the Grizzlies and again to the Wolves in exchange for Jarret Culver and Juancho Hernangomez. Jordan McLaughlin and Jaylen Noelle are questionable for the season-opener with groin and back injury, respectively.

Houston Rockets vs. Minnesota Timberwolves Preview

The Houston Rockets will be parading a collection of young players like Jaylen Green, Kevin Porter Jr., and Kenyon Martin Jr. in the first full season without perennial All-Star and former MVP James Harden. The Rockets gathered a 1-3 slate over four preseason games; nevertheless, this series of exhibition matches had shown the immense potential of their young players. Beginning this season, Houston will focus on acquiring young talent, developmental and chemistry-building in the hope of becoming a relevant team again within the next 2-3 years. 

Meanwhile, it’s playoff or bust for the Timberwolves coming into the season with Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, and Rookie of the Year runner-up Anthony Edwards forming a solid triumvirate. This season, the Wolves will also have a deep roster as they expect improvements from their young guys such Josh Okogie and Jaden McDaniels and contributions from veterans like Beverley and Malik Beasley.

Houston Rockets vs. Minnesota Timberwolves Prediction

The Wolves are 2-1 against the Rockets over their last three meetings, averaging 109.33 points on 42 percent shooting. These numbers are set to improve with the group of offensively gifted talent they have this season. 

The Rockets will push the basketball in every opportunity they will have, given the fresh legs on their side. Jaylen Green is looking like an athletic scorer with two-way potential at this stage of his pro career, so is Kevin Porter Jr, who showed out since he got traded to the Rockets midway into last season. Together, they will form the newest wing combo for the Rockets, just over a year removed from the forgetful James Harden-Russell Westbrook reunion. 

The Rockets will show flashes of potential early on, capitalizing on every fastbreak situation and putting their explosive athleticism on display. However, the Wolves will not miss the chance of making a bold statement in the season-opener. Towns, Russell and Edwards, are primed to chalk up big numbers in this game, especially against this inexperience and defensively challenged Rockets squad.

Houston Rockets vs. Minnesota Timberwolves Betting Picks

Pick the Timberwolves to win outright and cover the 6.5-point handicap. The smart bet is on the over as well since neither of these teams is known for defense. For more NBA odds, visit BetOnline.



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Milwaukee Bucks reveal their fancy 2021 NBA Finals championship rings

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Before Tuesday night’s home opener of the 2021-22 NBA season, the Milwaukee Bucks revealed their championship rings at the Fiserv Forum. The top of the ring features 360 diamonds. Each side of the ring features 16 diamonds. The organization decided on 16 diamonds because the Bucks won 16 postseason games during the 2021 Playoffs. Plus, the team won their 16th division title last season.

Next, on one side, the team’s “Fear The Deer” motto is visible. As the viewer can see below, “Antetokounmpo” is there, along with the number 34. In the 2021 NBA Finals, the Greek Freak averaged 35.2 points, 13.2 rebounds and 5.0 assists per game. Against the Suns, Giannis displayed a LeBron James-esque performance. The words displayed on the other side of the ring are “Bucks In 6.”

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TMZ Sports

Additionally, not only are the rings for the fingers, they can also be used as pendants. Jason of Beverly Hills designed the rings. When asked about his design decision, Jason replied, “We sought to create something that had a bit more versatility than rings of the past.” Jason also designed rings for the Lakers, Heat, Warriors and other NBA teams.

“As championship rings have gotten bigger, they have become less and less practical to wear,” he added. “We addressed this by developing a push-button system that allows the player to wear the top of the ring as a pendant, making it a piece of jewelry they can wear every day around their neck to celebrate their tremendous season.” Jason operates jewelry businesses at other locations in Las Vegas, Miami and Tokyo.

Bucks reveal their championship rings

TMZ Sports

Second championship in 50 years

For the best part, the 4.14 carats of emeralds for each individual ring symbolize Milwaukee’s 414 area code. Furthermore, there are 50 round stones on the inner bezel. This marks the team’s first championship win in 50 years.

Moreover, since the Bucks swept the Baltimore Bullets in the 1971 NBA Finals, the Bucks had failed every year until last season. Though, Milwaukee did play the Boston Celtics in the 1974 NBA Finals. Unfortunately, they lost that series in Game 7.

Milwaukee Bucks reveal their fancy 2021 NBA Finals championship rings

Of course, the 2021 Finals MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, admired the appearance of the ring. After the Milwaukee Bucks players gazed in awe at the rings prior to playing the Nets, they knew they had to quickly get down to business. Hours later, Milwaukee defeated Brooklyn 127-104 on their opening night.



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Chicago Bulls vs Detroit Pistons 2021-22 NBA Season Preview, Predictions and Picks

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On Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, the Chicago Bulls are playing the Detroit Pistons at Little Caesars Arena. This is the first regular season contest for both teams of the 2021-22 NBA season. BetOnline odds are listed below.

Game Information

Start time: 7 p.m. ET

Location: Little Caesars Arena; Detroit, Michigan

TV channels: Bally Sports Detroit, Bally Sports Indiana, NBA League Pass, NBC Sports Chicago

Radio broadcast: WXYT, WSCR

Live stream: fuboTV (seven-day free trial)

Chicago Bulls vs. Detroit Pistons news

Heading into tonight’s regular season opener, the Bulls are 3-0 in their previous three head-to-head meetings versus the Pistons. On May 9, 2021, the last time these teams faced off in the regular season, Chicago won 108-96. The Bulls are 7-3 in their last 10 games played against the Pistons as well.

Aside from injuries, the top news story concerns expectations this season for both teams. When asked about Chicago’s performance during the preseason, Zach LaVine stated, “The preseason showed the potential we have and the room to grow. It’s on us to out there and prove people wrong.”

Injury Report

For the Bulls, they have only two players on their injury report. Small forward Troy Brown Jr. is listed as questionable to play in tonight’s matchup. He is recovering from an undisclosed illness. And Coby White is out indefinitely due to a shoulder injury.

As for the Pistons, Saddiq Bey and Killian Hayes are listed as probable to play against Chicago. Though, Isaiah Livers is out indefinitely. This is because of a foot injury he sustained in the final preseason game versus Philadelphia. To add to the list, Cade Cunningham is also out tonight.

Chicago Bulls vs. Detroit Pistons betting lines

Chicago Bulls vs Detroit Pistons 2021-22 NBA Season Preview, Predictions and Picks

Over/Under: 218.5

Point spread: Bulls -5 (-105)

Best moneyline: Bulls -195, Pistons +170

Chicago Bulls vs. Detroit Pistons preview

Moreover, the Bulls ended their 2021 preseason with a flawless 4-0 record. Last Friday, the Bulls defeated the Grizzlies 118-105 at home. Guard Zach LaVine scored a team-high 31 points in 34 minutes on the court. Guard Nikola Vucevic ended his performance with 23 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 31 minutes played.

During Chicago’s offseason, the front office made several notable moves. In a sign-and-trade agreement with the New Orleans Pelicans, Lonzo Ball was signed. Plus, forward Al-Frouq Amino was traded to the San Antonio Spurs in exchange for DeMar DeRozan and Thaddeus Young. Not to mention, the organization signed Tony Bradley, Alex Caruso, Daniel Oturu, Tyler Cook and others.

Meanwhile, the Pistons concluded their exhibition games with a mediocre 2-2 record. Last Friday, the Pistons defeated the 76ers 112-108 at home. Forward Jerami Grant led Detroit in scoring, putting up 24 points in 35 minutes played. Center Isaiah Stewart closed out his night with 17 points and 12 rebounds in 29 minutes spent on the court.

In the offseason, all eyes were on first overall pick Cade Cunningham. Aside from having the number one pick from the 2021 NBA Draft, the organization signed Isaiah Livers and Trey Lyles. Chicago also signed Luka Garza, Kelly Olynyk and Cory Joseph. Expectations are low this season. So, at least the pressure is off.

Next, for the Bulls’ projected starting lineup, they have PG Lonzo Ball, SG Zach LaVine, SF DeMar DeRozan, PF Patrick Williams and C Nikola Vucevic. The Pistons’ projected starting lineup consists of PG Saben Lee, SG Frank Jackson, SF Kelly Olynyk, PF Jerami Grant and C Isaiah Stewart.

Chicago Bulls vs. Detroit Pistons prediction

Furthermore, the total for tonight’s season opener is set at 218.5. Regarding the spread consensus, 86% of bettors are expecting Chicago to cover the spread in this one. And, pertaining to the total consensus, 58% of gamblers are leaning towards picking the under for this matchup. In the 2020-21 NBA season, Detroit finished 20-52 (.278). Therefore, it makes perfect sense why the under is the superior option.

For betting trends, Chicago is 5-2 against the spread in the team’s last seven games. The total has also gone under in five of the Bulls’ past six contests. And, the Bulls are 5-2 straight up in their previous seven games played. Not only is Chicago 7-0 versus Detroit in the team’s last seven contests, the total has gone under in five of their past six games played against Eastern Conference opponents.

As for the Pistons, they are 0-5 ATS in their last five games. Also, the total has gone under in five of the team’s previous five contests. And, Detroit is 0-6 SU in their last six games played versus Eastern Conference opponents. With all things considered, the total will likely go under 218.5.

Chicago Bulls vs. Detroit Pistons betting pick

Pick the Bulls to win on the road, they will cover the spread and the total will go under 218.5. Chicago is a five-point favorite with BetOnline.





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