We got a break from the intensity of the NBA on Thursday and got a face full of pro football, turkey and pie, instead. It was understandably a joyous time, but most of us are plenty glad to get the NBA back. Pro basketball returns in style, with a whopping 12 games.
That’s a lot of picking and betting, as just six NBA teams aren’t suiting up the day after Thanksgiving. It’s probably just as well, since 12 games is a lot to digest. We’ll do our best as we prepare you for tonight’ action as you work to finalize your NBA bets:
Bucks @ Magic
Orlando has been ultra competitive this year but their lineup has gotten shaken up a bit too much by Scott Skiles. If they played their normal guys straight up, they’d rarely be out of a game. Still, Skiles is looking for the perfect mix and things could continue to get blurred at home against the Bucks. Luckily Milwaukee can’t score or defend this year, so the Magic should be fine at home, where they’re a solid 5-3 on the season.
Pick: Magic 104, Bucks 99
Cavaliers @ Hornets
Cleveland held a players only meeting recently after falling apart in a loss to the Raptors, but that seemed like overkill considering it was just their fourth loss of the year and they’ve been dealing with three key injuries. The bigger issue is just their road struggles in general (3-4) and if that meeting fixed anything, the Hornets may want to watch out tonight. Then again, Charlotte has been quite solid (9-6) on the year and is a borderline elite team at home (7-1). I’m calling for the upset if the Hornets can keep up that level of play on their home floor.
Pick: Hornets 101, Cavs 97
Wizards @ Celtics
Washington has been extremely average so far during the 2015-16 NBA season, so it’s awfully difficult to know what to expect out of them on a nightly basis. It’s nice to have Bradley Beal back in the mix, but John Wall has been very weak as a scorer for much of the past two weeks and the Wiz also are getting destroyed defensively. On the road against a Celtics team that loves to buckle down on the defensive end, the Wizards could be in for a difficult night.
Pick: Celtics 99, Wiz 92
Heat @ Knicks
Before the season we may not have though this would be a key matchup, but it really is with the Heat (9-5) and Knicks (8-8) both looking like playoff contenders in the Eastern Conference. Miami had little trouble with New York in South Beach a week ago, so they could have the edge again.
Pick: Heat 104, Knicks 103
76ers @ Rockets
Philly hasn’t won a game and Houston plays host tonight with Dwight Howard in the lineup. The Rockets have certainly been a disappointment from an overall perspective so far this year, but if this isn’t the game to end a three-game skid, I don’t know what is.
Pick: Rockets 113, 76ers 101
Bulls @ Pacers
Chicago and Indy get together for an intense divisional clash, as both teams are fighting for second place behind the Cavs and are also on torrid runs. Both teams have won 7+ games in their last 10 contests and won’t want to drop this one tonight. The Bulls won a tight affair by one point at the United Center just 11 days ago, so I’ll give the edge to the Pacers at home. Paul George has just been insanely hot, too, so betting against him feels kind of silly.
Pick: Pacers 104, Bulls 102
Pistons @ Thunder
Reggie Jackson could be out for some revenge tonight, as he takes on his former team. I think he gets his and OKC could have trouble dealing with Andre Drummond down low, but we’ve seen now that the Pistons are mostly a two-man wrecking crew. So is OKC, but with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant healthy, their studs trump Detroit’s at home.
Pick: Thunder 106, Pistons 98
Hawks @ Grizzlies
Memphis has done well to rebound from a sluggish 3-3 start, winning 6 of their last 10 games and going 5-2 on their home floor, overall. The Grizzlies have largely struggled on the road this year, so even against a solid Hawks team, I like them to hold down the fort on their home floor. Atlanta isn’t the east pick they were a year ago, anyways, as they’re just 4-4 on the road and have taken a mild step back on the defensive side of things.
Pick: Grizz 99, Hawks 96
Spurs @ Nuggets
Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are out, so the Spurs look to be a little under-manned on the road. Luckily Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge are still on hand, while Tony Parker has been ablaze offensively. Denver’s tempo could give the Spurs issues, but I still like San Antonio.
Pick: Spurs 104, Nuggets 98
Warriors @ Suns
The Suns are a tough road opponent tonight, as the Warriors look to extend perfection to a 17-0 start. Phoenix has the goods offensively to give Golden State trouble, but even a close game shouldn’t thwart the Warriors thanks to Phoenix’s suspect defense. This one might not be easy, but I’m not betting on the Suns being the first team to take down the defending champs.
Pick: Warriors 110, Suns 105
Timberwolves @ Kings
Minnesota could get to .500 tonight, while the Kings could be playing yet another game sans Boogie. I like the Kings of DeMarcus Cousins is active, but missed Sacramento’s last game and this team as a whole has been very up and down this year. It doesn’t help that Minnesota has somehow been much more focused (5-2) on the road.
Pick: T’Wolves 106, Kings 101
Pelicans @ Clippers
Man, have the Clippers been pedestrian. Los Angeles got off to a sweet 4-0 start, but it seems once they caved and lost to the Warriors, all hell broke loose. Blake Griffin is playing outstanding basketball, but all of the depth L.A. acquired this off-season hasn’t really panned out yet. The Clippers may be struggling, but the Pelicans have it worse. I’ll take Lob City at home.
Pick: Clippers 108, Pelicans 104