Bryant set for Howard humbling on the NBA’s opening night

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The first three games of the NBA regular season’s 2460 will take place to a backdrop of story lines and fanfare, with the San Antonio Spurs hosting a local rival as they begin their title defence and Kobe Bryant returns from long-term injury to face his arch rival, Dwight Howard.

Beyond such rhetoric though, there is money to be made and we’ve got the best three bets for each outing:

New Orleans Pelicans (-10.5) to beat Orlando Magic @ 10/11

The Pelicans stand to have an impressive season if they keep their starting five healthy, with 2012 number one draft pick Anthony Davis.

Last season the power forward averaged 24 points, 18 rebounds and 5 blocks in two clashes with the Magic and with Disney Land’s neighbours breaking up the core of their roster over the offseason, the man known as “The Brow” can run amok again.

San Antonio Spurs to beat Dallas Mavericks @ 20/33

“Defending champions” will be an adjective used to describe the San Antonio Spurs regularly over the course of this new season, but you won’t find them using it on themselves.

“You have to build it all over again. You can’t just assume you’re going to start where you left off,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said ahead of their season opener as one of many levellers you get the impression he has doled out in training camp.

Another reality check is the news that the Spurs will be without reigning NBA Finals MVP Kahwi Leonard.

Luckily the hosts have won 13 of their last 15 against the Mavericks, with or without Leonard, and have taken nine straight by an average of 14.8 points

LA Lakers to score under 100.0 points against Houston Rockets @ 5/6

Last year was the Lakers’ worst for 54 years and it’s quite likely things won’t get much better this season.

With all of the talent on the purple and gold’s roster ageing, there isn’t a better time for Howard to return to the team he scorned last season by bolting to Houston.

The Rockets allowed 103.1 points per game last season, but with the talent-light Lakers also suffering a spate of injuries, they’ll start off this campaign on a better defensive foot.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Matt Wiggins

No idyllic sound comes close to leather on willow for Matt, whose previous experience includes stints with Spin Magazine and Surrey County Cricket Club. It's not just cricket that interests him though, with football, golf, tennis and any American sport not played on ice all high on his list of favourites.