This is the second half of my October 20 NBA predictions. The early games can be found here. The interesting late games include 76ers vs Pelicans, Kings vs Trail Blazers, and the ESPN game of Nuggets vs Suns. Both the Nuggets and the Suns are championship contenders, so it should be a good early season matchup.
NBA Predictions: October 20 Matchups – Part 2
Philadelphia 76ers at New Orleans Pelicans
Spread: Pelicans +3, O/U 226
The Ben Simmons ordeal is not going well, as he was suspended for this game after just recently coming back to practice. Philly still has a good team with Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris running the show. They bring back mainly the same team from last year, as the 76ers have loaded their roster with shooters around Embiid. New Orleans will be without their star Zion Williamson for a while, as he is nursing a foot injury. Brandon Ingram, along with newcomers Devonte’ Graham and Jonas Valanciunas will have to carry the scoring load until he gets back. This will be a close game, but Embiid is good enough to anchor a defense by himself and the Pelicans don’t have enough scoring without Williamson.
Final Score: 76ers 115, Pelicans 109
Orlando Magic at San Antonio Spurs
Spread: Spurs -5.5, O/U 212.5
The Orlando Magic are going to be one of the worst teams in the league again this year. Their rebuild is fully underway after trading Vucevic last year. Rookies Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner will be big parts of rotation right away. For NBA deep divers, this will be an exciting team to watch. San Antonio seems to be stuck in no-man land. They are not completely awful but probably aren’t good enough to make the playoffs either. Dejounte Murray leads this team, with other young players like Derrick White, Keldon Johnson, Lonnie Walker, and Devin Vassell looking to take another step. The Spurs are the better team here and should take this one.
Final Score: Magic 106, Spurs 111
Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz
Spread: Jazz -12, O/U 220.5
This game is as much of a mismatch as the spread indicates. Oklahoma City is in the middle of a rebuild while the Jazz are at the top of the Western Conference. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander leads the Thunder, and rookie Josh Giddey is an exciting prospect. Utah brought back almost everybody from last year, and the familiarity with the system gives them a big advantage in this game. Expect Donovan Mitchell and Co. to dominate. The Jazz went 31-5 last year at home, and they should win this one comfortably.
Final Score: Thunder 102, Jazz 119
Denver Nuggets at Phoenix Suns
Spread: Suns -6, O/U 223.5
The ESPN nightcap is a rematch of the second round last year, where the Suns swept the Nuggets out of the playoffs. Both teams are essentially running it back, with a few changes in role players. The biggest story for the Suns right now has to do with Deandre Ayton and his contract. Ayton has already voiced his displeasure, and we will see if that affects his play on the court. Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic will do his thing, but the X-factor in this game is Michael Porter Jr. The Suns will likely be hunting Porter in the pick and roll, especially late in the game. This will be a close one, but expect Devin Booker and Chris Paul to put it away in the fourth quarter.
Final Score: Nuggets 107, Suns 115
Sacramento Kings at Portland Trail Blazers
Spread: Trail Blazers -5, O/U 232.5
If you are looking for a lot of offense and little defense, you should tune into this game. These teams play super fast and look to get up a lot of shots. De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, and Buddy Hield are all offensive players who can get others involved. On the other side, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum make a lethal scoring combination. Norman Powell can also fill it up, and offseason acquisition Larry Nance Jr. gives them a versatile defender. This will be another close game and don’t be surprised if the Kings pull off an opening night upset.
Final Score: Kings 128, Trail Blazers 127