The Golden State Warriors don’t look likely to surrender their grip on the NBA Championship anytime soon and come into Week 1 of the 2018-19 season as fancied 4/7 (1.57) favourites to retain their crown.
Steph Curry’s titleholders host Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday’s opening night. The Philadelphia 76ers travel to Boston Celtics territory on the same evening, in what has the makings of an early power play in the Eastern Conference.
The 11/2 (6.50) Celtics come closest to the Warriors with the bookmakers, who have slashed odds on the Los Angeles Lakers clinching a first NBA title in nine years following the arrival of LeBron James.
They’re up to 12/1 (13.00) to end their silverware drought—a telling impact from James considering they entered last season at 100/1. If that seems too steep a task, the Lakers are 8/1 (9.00) to win the Western Conference.
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2018-19 NBA Championship Favorites
Golden State Warriors: 4/7 (1.57)
Boston Celtics: 11/2 (6.50)
Houston Rockets: 17/2 (9.50)
Los Angeles Lakers: 12/1 (13.00)
Philadelphia 76ers: 12/1 (13.00)
Toronto Raptors: 15/1 (16.00)
Oklahoma City Thunder: 30/1 (31.00)
Utah Jazz: 35/1 (36.00)
San Antonio Spurs: 70/1 (71.00)
Washington Wizards: 80/1 (81.00)
Audiences won’t get their first look at James in competitive action for the Lakers until Thursday’s trip to the Portland Trail Blazers. The visitors are in desperate need of drastic change in this fixture, too, after losing the past 15 meetings with Portland, stretching back to March 2014.
An opening-night encounter between the reigning champs and the Thunder could throw up some fireworks as it has in the past. Russell Westbrook is still hoping to lead the latter to the play-offs for the first time since former comrade Kevin Durant left for the Warriors in 2016.
NBA 2018-19 Season Predictions
The Warriors have been all but irrepressible in the past two NBA seasons, and their total two Finals losses in the past two championship wins over the Cavaliers is evidence of that.
As such, one can expect head coach Steve Kerr to again get his side back into the play-off picture and potentially rake in a third consecutive title, even if it doesn’t make for the most dramatic of endings.
That being said, the LeBron effect could be telling in LA, and it’s worth taking a punt on the Lakers to at least make it into the post-season schedule.
TV Info: TNT, ESPN
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Week 1 Schedule, Fixtures
Tuesday, October 16
Philadelphia 76ers @ Boston Celtics, 8 p.m. ET (TNT)
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Golden State Warriors, 10:30 p.m. ET (TNT)
Wednesday, October 17
Milwaukee Bucks @ Charlotte Hornets, 7 p.m. ET
Brooklyn Nets @ Detroit Pistons, 7 p.m. ET
Memphis Grizzlies @ Indiana Pacers, 7 p.m. ET
Miami Heat @ Orlando Magic, 7 p.m. ET
Atlanta Hawks @ New York Knicks, 7:30 p.m. ET
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Toronto Raptors, 7:30 p.m. ET
New Orleans Pelicans @ Houston Rockets, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Minnesota Timberwolves @ San Antonio Spurs, 8:30 p.m. ET
Utah Jazz @ Sacramento Kings, 10 p.m. ET
Denver Nuggets @ LA Clippers, 10:30 p.m. ET
Dallas Mavericks @ Phoenix Suns, 10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Thursday, October 18
Chicago Bulls @ Philadelphia 76ers, 8 p.m. ET (TNT)
Miami Heat @ Washington Wizards, 8 p.m. ET
Los Angeles Lakers @ Portland Trail Blazers, 10:30 p.m. ET (TNT)
Friday October 19
Charlotte Hornets @ Orlando Magic, 7 p.m. ET
New York Knicks @ Brooklyn Nets, 7:30 p.m. ET
Boston Celtics @ Toronto Raptors, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Atlanta Hawks @ Memphis Grizzlies, 8 p.m. ET
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Minnesota Timberwolves, 8 p.m. ET
Sacramento Kings @ New Orleans Pelicas, 8 p.m. ET
Indiana Pacers @ Milwaukee Bucks, 8:30 p.m. ET
Golden State Warriors @ Utah Jazz, 10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Oklahoma City Thunder @ LA Clippers, 10:30 p.m. ET
Saturday, October 20
Brooklyn Nets @ Indiana Pacers, 7 p.m. ET
Toronto Raptors @ Washington Wizards, 7 p.m. ET (NBA TV)
Boston Celtics @ New York Knicks, 7:30 p.m. ET
Orlando Magic @ Philadelphia 76ers, 7:30 p.m. ET
Charlotte Hornets @ Miami Heat, 8 p.m. ET
Detroit Pistons @ Chicago Bulls, 8 p.m. ET
Minnesota Timberwolves @ Dallas Mavericks, 8:30 p.m. ET
Phoenix Suns @ Denver Nuggets, 9 p.m. ET
San Antonio Spurs @ Portland Trail Blazers, 10 p.m. ET
Houston Rockets @ Los Angeles Lakers, 10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN)
Sunday, October 21
Atlanta Hawks @ Cleveland Cavaliers, 6 p.m. ET
Sacramento Kings @ Oklahoma City Thunder, 7 p.m. ET
Golden State Warriors @ Denver Nuggets, 8 p.m. ET
Houston Rockets @ LA Clippers, 9 p.m. ET (NBA TV)