NBA Opening Night preview, best bets: Bucks, Lakers favored in openers

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The wait is over! The NBA regular season tips off Tuesday with the four early title favorites battling it out in our first look at their 2021-22 rosters, which will kick off a jam-packed week of basketball.

Here are the odds for Tuesday's openers and our best bet in each:

Nets @ Bucks (-1.5, 233.5)

The last time we saw these two teams share the court, the Bucks' defense was capping off a defensive masterpiece against the Nets, who lost in overtime despite Kevin Durant's 48-piece. Since then, Milwaukee has retained its title core and comes back seemingly as strong as before, while Brooklyn is ... not so fortunate.

Kyrie Irving is still sidelined for this group, which is built around the idea of its top three stars elevating a mostly pedestrian supporting cast. Without Irving, that complicates matters. It worked in the postseason, when Durant and James Harden were routinely playing 40-plus minutes, but don't expect that to happen in the first contest of an 82-game regular season.

The Bucks, on the other hand, have the depth to harass the Nets defensively for 48 minutes to support their own three-headed monster of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday. We saw how brilliant this group can be at full strength a season ago; we'll see a glimpse Tuesday.

Pick: Bucks -1.5

Warriors @ Lakers (-3.5, 226)

I'm deeply skeptical of both of these teams entering the season, which makes it tough to have a strong lean either way. If you're determined to bet this game, though, the smarter play is to take the points on the Warriors.

The Lakers have talent, but this roster was largely cobbled together in the offseason without regard for fit or spacing. Los Angeles' misfit squad went 0-6 in the preseason, and while that's mostly irrelevant for regular-season success, it does hint at a general lack of upside with the Lakers' second unit.

The Warriors were a perfect 5-0 behind preseason breakout star Jordan Poole, who'll likely get the first season-opening start of his career after spending much of his sophomore campaign in the G League. He improved his game dramatically there and will put pressure on a Lakers defense that has plenty to prove outside of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Both of these teams will be better in April than they are in October, but I have more confidence in a hot start from Golden State's shooters in this one.

Pick: Warriors +3.5

C Jackson Cowart is a sports betting writer at theScore. You can follow him on Twitter (@CJacksonCowart) or email him at cjackson.cowart@thescore.com.

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NBA Opening Night preview, best bets: Bucks, Lakers favored in openers
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