Opening week affects MVP odds of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid

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Opening week affects MVP odds of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid

Ben Simmons had himself a historic first week in the NBA and as a result, his MVP odds have changed substantially.

Listed by Bovada on Oct. 10 at 80/1 to win MVP, Simmons is now at 33/1, tied with DeMarcus Cousins and ahead of Marc Gasol, Blake Griffin and Damian Lillard.

Simmons became the first player since Oscar Robertson to produce at least 10 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in each of his first three career games.

Teammate Joel Embiid had a less successful start to the year, averaging 14.5 points, 13.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in two games but shooting just 35.5 percent from the field and missing all 10 three-point attempts.

And yet somehow, Embiid's MVP odds have changed from 40/1 to 25/1. He has the same MVP odds as Karl-Anthony Towns and Kristaps Porzingis.

Griffin, at 50/1, is a sneaky good bet for MVP. The Clippers are his team now with Chris Paul in Houston, and Griffin has added long-distance shooting to his game, making three triples in each game. Two games in, he's averaging 29.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.5 assists. 

If he can stay healthy (a huge if) and lead the Clippers to 52-plus wins in a loaded Western Conference, you'd have to think Griffin would be looked at more favorably in terms of MVP odds than someone on a star-studded team like any of the Warriors or Rockets, if Paul returns from his knee injury within a month and affects James Harden's stats even slightly. 

Giannis Antetokounpo and LeBron James look like the two players most likely to win MVP, but 50/1 for Griffin is good value if you think this is the year he stays healthy. If he didn't have a history of injuries, his odds right now would be closer to those of John Wall (28/1) or Towns (25/1).

Best of NBA: Giannis Antetokounmpo dominates as Bucks down Celtics

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Best of NBA: Giannis Antetokounmpo dominates as Bucks down Celtics

BOSTON -- Giannis Antetokounmpo scored 16 of his 37 points in the fourth quarter, and the Milwaukee Bucks opened their season with a 108-100 victory over Boston on Wednesday night to spoil the homecoming of a Celtics team coming off a late and emotional season opener.

One night after a gruesome broken ankle just six minutes into the season cost Boston top free agent Gordon Hayward -- perhaps for the entire season -- the Celtics fell to 0-2 by giving up an 11-1 run that left Milwaukee with a 97-90 lead and under three minutes to play.

Antetokounmpo added 13 rebounds, Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon scored 19 points and Khris Middleton had 15 points and nine rebounds for the Bucks. Matthew Dellavedova scored 15 points, hitting a 3-pointer with 45 seconds left after the Celtics cut the lead to two points.

Kyrie Irving scored 17 points on 7-for-25 shooting in his Boston debut, and Jaylen Brown had 18 for the Celtics.

It was a subdued home opener for the Celtics, who underwent a near-complete overhaul over the summer even after earning the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference last season. Although Irving and No. 3 draft pick Jayson Tatum appeared in a Celtics home uniform for the first time, Hayward was left to wish them well in a pregame video from his hospital bed (see full recap).

Revamped Pacers score 140 in win
INDIANAPOLIS -- Victor Oladipo scored 22 points in his Indiana debut, Darren Collison added 21 points and 11 assists in his return to Indianapolis, and the Pacers held off the Brooklyn Nets 140-131 on Wednesday night in their season opener.

Eight players scored in double figures as the Pacers, in their first game since trading All-Star Paul George, produced their highest point total since a 144-point game against Denver on Nov. 9, 2010. Myles Turner had 21 points and 14 rebounds, and Thaddeus Young added 17 points and 11 rebounds.

D'Angelo Russell scored 30 points in his Nets debut but backcourt mate Jeremy Lin limped to the locker room with an injury midway through the fourth quarter. Trevor Booker finished with 20 points and 10 rebounds, but it wasn't enough to prevent the Nets from losing a franchise-record fifth consecutive season opener.

Despite having chances to take control, neither could.

Brooklyn led 30-29 after one quarter, the Pacers took a 65-63 halftime lead and then used a 10-0 third-quarter run to build a 75-65 lead. Brooklyn never led again.

But the Nets charged back in the final minutes, trimming a 10-point deficit to 130-126 before the Pacers finally managed to close it out (see full recap).

Grizzlies cruise past Pelicans in opener
MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Mike Conley scored 27 points, rookie Dillon Brooks added 19 and the Memphis Grizzlies beat the New Orleans Pelicans 103-91 in their season opener on Wednesday night.

Marc Gasol had 14 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out with 3:05 left. Memphis won its opener for the second straight year, a first in franchise history.

Anthony Davis had 33 points and 18 rebounds and DeMarcus Cousins had 28 points and 10 boards for New Orleans, but the frontcourt pair got little help. The Pelicans shot 38 percent, including 7 of 25 from 3-point range.

Memphis, which carried a 79-70 lead into the fourth, stretched the margin to 13 in the early stages of the final period.

Davis and Cousins helped the Pelicans build an early lead, but Memphis countered with nine straight points to open the second quarter and the game settled into a close one. The Grizzlies held a 54-52 lead at halftime.

Memphis made it 77-65 in the latter stages of the third and cruised from there (see full recap).

Instant Replay: Bucks 90, Sixers 82

Instant Replay: Bucks 90, Sixers 82

BOX SCORE

The shorthanded Sixers gave the playoff-bound Milwaukee Bucks all they could handle but fell short in a 90-82 loss at the Wells Fargo Center Saturday night.

All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo came up big for the Bucks (41-39), who are clinging to the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference and clinched a playoff berth with the win. The Greek Freak nearly recorded a triple-double while pouring in 20 points. The win snapped a three-game losing streak for Jason Kidd's squad.

The Sixers (28-52) got off to a strong start and led at halftime. On his 23rd birthday, Dario Saric continued to make his case for the league's Rookie of the Year award. The Croatian forward had another strong performance for the Sixers with 14 points on 6 of 12 from the field and 1 for 6 from three. 

The loss extends the team's losing streak to six games with two games left to play this season.

Inside the box score
T.J. McConnell, who came into the game nursing a sore left ankle, dished out a game-high 10 assists. He also added 10 points and three steals.

Richaun Holmes also recorded a double-double with team highs of 17 points and 10 rebounds.

Saric scored 14 points and added eight rebounds and four assists.

The Sixers held Antetokounmpo in check as much as any team can in the first half. The Greek Freak took over after the break, finishing with 20 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, three steals and two blocks. He struggled from the line, however, going 6 of 11 from the charity stripe.

Big man Greg Monroe added 15 points off the bench for Milwaukee.

Injuries
McConnell left Thursday's loss against Chicago with a left ankle injury. McConnell started and had no restrictions tonight.

Saric continues to play with a 24-minute restriction as he deals with plantar fasciitis in his left foot.

The Bucks were without their Rookie of the Year candidate, Malcolm Brogdon. Brogdon is nursing a sore back and has missed five straight games.

Big man John Henson has missed the last 10 games with a thumb injury. Both players have been practicing with contact and Kidd expects them back in the lineup Monday against Charlotte.

Rookie of the Year
Who should win the Rookie of the Year in the NBA has been hotly debated. Saric has played all 80 games this season and has had a big second half. Joel Embiid only played 31 games but was dominant for good portions of those games. Brogdon has been solid for a playoff team.

Brett Brown made it known that he believes one of his players should receive the honor (see story).

"What I feel most strongly about is 'That's our trophy. That's our award. It comes from Philadelphia,'" Brown said pregame. "We're proud of both of their efforts and both of their progress and development. Not to take away anything from anybody, it's just that personally, I feel very confident and strong saying that."

Up next
The Sixers welcome Paul George and the Indiana Pacers to the Wells Fargo Center Monday night in the final home game of the season. The Pacers currently hold the seventh seed in the tightly-contested Eastern Conference.

The Sixers will close out their season Wednesday in New York against the Knicks.