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Western Conference Division Sleeper Teams – Basketball Insiders

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Despite not being as deep from top to bottom as the Eastern Conference, the West is still loaded with championship contenders. The Los Angeles Lakers have reloaded with Russell Westbrook at point guard. The Utah Jazz earned the best record in the league last year and return with the same roster. The Golden State Warriors are healthy and have upgraded their squad. The Phoenix Suns essentially have the same team that just played in the NBA Finals.

Just as there are a number of title contenders, there are just as many questions surrounding other teams dealing with injuries to star players. Kawhi Leonard and Jamal Murray will miss a significant portion of the season. How will their teams manage without them? What will the Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers do to upgrade their rosters to surround their MVP-caliber point guards?

All of those questions will eventually be answered but there are some under-the-radar teams in the West that could turn some heads over the course of the 82-game season.

Northwest Division – Minnesota Timberwolves

Utah remains the clear favorite within this division and Oklahoma City has begun its full-scale rebuild. There is a lot of uncertainty though, between two teams in particular. It is difficult to get a read on how things will play out in Denver and Portland, with Murray’s injury recovery and the status of Damian Lillard. Minnesota has a real opportunity to make some noise this year.

As long as Karl-Anthony Towns remains healthy, the Timberwolves will be in good hands. The fit next to his close friend D’Angelo Russell has not produced the results that many expected. While Russell will be aiming for a bounce-back season, there are a number of guards in their rotation that could see plenty of time on the floor with the departure of Ricky Rubio. Malik Beasley makes his return and Josh Okogie remains one of the more under-the-radar young talents in the league.

Patrick Beverley arrives in Minnesota with a chip on his shoulder after being traded twice this summer. The scrappy guard will bring a much-needed defensive mindset to this team. Should Anthony Edwards continue to improve his shooting and avoid a sophomore slump, it could provide a clear direction for this group, as they have been stuck in the mud for the last few years.

Pacific Division – Los Angeles Clippers

Towards the end of last season, it appeared as though this division might have four legitimate championship contenders heading into the 2021-22 campaign. Then there was the knee injury to Kawhi Leonard in the playoffs. Not only did it deflate their hopes of advancing to the Finals, it also puts a damper on the regular season as he continues his long recovery. With the Lakers, Suns and Warriors all expected to contend, the Clippers have already become an afterthought in the minds of many.

While the absence of Leonard will obviously lower expectations in the regular season, Los Angeles did a good job of filling the talent at his position. They brought back Nicolas Batum in free agency and signed Justise Winslow, who will provide solid defense. They selected Keon Johnson with the 21st pick in the draft, who could play more minutes at the guard position should Paul George slide into the small forward spot.

The Clippers have solid backcourt depth with Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, Terance Mann and Eric Bledsoe, who is returning to Los Angeles in hopes of rejuvenating his career. Marcus Morris will likely see more minutes this season and a healthy Serge Ibaka could play more at the forward position with Ivica Zubac holding down the center spot. Whether or not Leonard returns this season is the ultimate question, but the Clippers should still be a playoff-caliber team without him.

Southwest Division – Memphis Grizzlies

This division is wide open, with New Orleans and San Antonio likely regressing and Houston in the early stages of their rebuild. Dallas will certainly be the team to keep an eye on with the star power of Luka Doncic but Memphis may very well be the best and deepest team in the Southwest. After knocking on the door of the playoffs for the past couple of seasons, this just might be the year that the Grizzlies begin their ascent.

It all starts with the one-two punch of Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr but this team is so much more than that duo. Dillon Brooks has quietly molded into one of the top young scorers in the game. The emergence of De’Anthony Melton, Desmond Bane and Jarrett Culver give Memphis an absolute wealth of riches at the guard positions. After a promising start to his career, Brandon Clarke took a slight step back last year. They will need his production at the forward position alongside Kyle Anderson.

The departure of Jonas Valanciunas hurts but they have filled that void with Steven Adams, who will be a much better fit alongside Jackson Jr. The combination of youth and talent with this team is unlike anything else in the league. The Grizzlies have been a team on the rise for quite some time and now could be their opportunity to fulfill those expectations.





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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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