NBA Predictions and Best Bets: Can the Boston Celtics Spoil Kemba Walker's Homecoming?

NBA expert Adam Taylor is ready for the 2021 NBA season! He's here with his prediction and picks for the 2021 NBA season opener for the New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics and more.
Adam Taylor
Wed, October 20, 7:45 AM EDT

NBA Predictions and Best Bets: Can the Boston Celtics Spoil Kemba Walkers's Homecoming?

New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics Prediction

When: Wednesday, October 20, 7:30 p.m. ET

Where to Watch: ESPN

Spread: Knicks -2

Total: 222.5

Click Here For Knicks vs. Celtics Odds

Kemba Walker's homecoming and a return to his former stomping ground

Emotions will be running high for Kemba Walker in tonight's game. On the one hand, he's playing his first competitive game at Madison Square Garden, while on the other, he faces off against his former teammates.

The Boston Celtics have spent the off-season re-vamping their bench rotation and will be hoping their strength in depth can see them surpass their 36-36 record from last year. For the New York Knicks, the onus is on proving their previous season wasn't an anomaly and that their defense is legitimate.

Each team will be participating in their first game of the new season, giving us no headway in tracking their current form; as such, we must look to their preseason performances to get an idea of what to expect.

The Knicks, who built last season's success off the back of a robust defense, have added additional perimeter creation by creating a new back-court. Both Walker and Evan Fournier joined the team during the summer after stints with the Celtics. Head coach Tom Thibodeau will be hoping the additional playmaking and scoring punch can propel his team into the upper echelons of the Eastern Conference. The Knicks ended their preseason preparations by finishing with a 4-0 record, albeit against projected bottom feeders of the East except for the Indiana Pacers.

The Celtics have a new head coach in Ime Udoka and a plethora of new talent on their bench. The most significant upgrade for Boston is that they will no longer rely on inconsistent production from sophomore and third-year places. Instead, they can look to proven NBA veterans to keep things ticking over while their stars take a breather. Unfortunately, the Celtics will likely be without Jaylen Brown and Al Horford for this matchup, as both are currently out due to Health and Safety protocols. The Celtics come into tonight's game after splitting their preseason 2-2 and could be in for a rough start to their season against a physical Knicks team.

Knicks vs. Celtics Pick

Phoenix Suns Prediction vs. Denver Nuggets Prediction

When: 10:00 p.m ET

Where to Watch: ESPN

Suns vs. Nuggets Odds

Team Chemistry is going to play a role in tonight's game between these two Western Conference powerhouses. Unfortunately, the Suns have been making headlines for the wrong reasons these last few days after opting against extending center Deandre Ayton to a max deal. Regardless of if the Suns' decision was correct or not, the players will undoubtedly have their own feelings towards this, and there's no telling how Ayton's game will be affected.

In the Nuggets camp, the team is still without starting point guard Jamal Murray as he continues to rehab from an injury sustained last season, while the team also has a big question mark hanging over their big-man rotation.

Neither team made a big splash during free agency, with both opting to run it back this year while making slight tweaks around the edges and extending some of their younger talents. However, Michael Porter Jr could find himself under increased pressure following his contract extension with the Nuggets and may take a while to find his footing now the spotlights are shining that little bit brighter.

The Nuggets do have some intruding young prospects they could look towards, with Na'Shon' Bones' Hyland being a candidate for a big role this season – especially while Murray continues his rehab. However, against the reigning Western Conference Champions, it's doubtful his rookie debut swings the tide too much. After falling to a 1-4 preseason record, and with some apparent issues within their rotation due to injury and lack of depth, the Nuggets don't fill you with confidence against a well-oiled Suns team.

Phoenix went 3-1 in the preseason and have some exceptionally gifted players on both sides of the ball. Still, they will be relying on Ayton to continue his level of play last season if they wish to combat the threat of Nikola Jokic.

Suns vs. Nuggets Pick

Minnesota Timberwolves vs. Houston Rockets

When: 8:00 p.m ET

Timberwolves vs. Rockets Odds

A team deep within their rebuilding process, and another who feels they're close to being contenders. The Houston Rockets and Minnesota Timberwolves are two teams looking to build on the foundations their front offices have put in place.

The Timberwolves will be hoping for a developmental jump from Anthony Edwards this season and, judging by his preseason performances on the defensive end, will likely get their wish. Karl-Anthony Towns remains one of the best big men in the NBA but needs to display a defensive game if he wishes to help his team make the playoffs this year, while D'Angelo Russell looked sharp during the preseason.

The Houston Rockets are still in the early stages of their rebuilding process, where the coaching staff is allowing every roster member an opportunity to claim valuable rotation minutes. However, in Kevin Porter Jr, Jalen Green, and Christian Wood, the team has three players they can lean on as they continue to develop their core. Throw in the veteran leadership of John Wall, and the Rockets can feel good about the direction they're heading in – even if that direction will be riddled with losses this year.

Neither team possess a capable defensive unit; If we take them on last year's performances, tonight's game will likely come down to a shoot-out. However, over their 3-1 preseason, the Timberwolves looked like a vastly improved team on the defensive end of the ball and operated with a ton of perimeter ball pressure, so Christian Wood might find his floor spacing antics to be difficult tonight.

Houston finished their preseason preparations with a 1-3 record, only managing to beat the Washington Wizards, and have looked to be flat on both sides of the floor thus far.

Timberwolves vs. Rockets Pick

More NBA Games

Detroit Pistons vs. Chicago Bulls

Pistons vs. Bulls Odds

The addition of Cade Cunningham has got Pistons fans dreaming about a better future. Unfortunately, the future isn't the present. Despite the Pistons holding multiple players with tremendous upside, along with the ever-impressive Jerami Grant, they don't project to be stern opponents this season. The Chicago Bulls, on the other hand, have retooled their roster

with some incredibly talented players such as Lonzo Ball and DeMar DeRozan. At the same time, the Alex Caruso signing could be considered a steal by the end of the season. Barring an opening night catastrophe, the Bulls should be victorious tonight.

Charlotte Hornets vs. Indiana Pacers

Hornets vs. Pacers Odds

Rick Carlisle returns to Indiana, and both parties will be hoping the partnership pays dividends this year. The Pacers underperformed last season as they struggled to grasp Nate Bjorkgren's schemes and struggled with injuries to key players such as TJ Warren. The Hornets are a potent offensive team, capable of some magnificent moments, which LaMelo Ball often starts, but their defense is porous and a cause for concern. Devonte Graham's exit from the rotation also leaves some question marks around their strength in depth, which could lead to a difficult transition period. However, with Carlisle back in the Pacers hot-seat, the team has the edge in tonight's matchup.

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Sacramento Kings

Blazers vs. Kings Odds

An essentially unchanged Portland Trail Blazers team will look to run it back yet again. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are one of the best back-court pairings in the NBA and should have no issues punishing a questionable Sacramento defense. The Kings, who added Tristan Thompson to improve their rim protection and physicality, have been perineal underachievers for nigh on a decade. Unfortunately, despite finally building a good young core, they will likely fail to overcome a robust Trail Blazers team.

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