The NBA took a break on Thursday night (zero games) and returned with a light Christmas Day slate (five games). On Saturday night we’re being bombarded with a total pro basketball barrage to make up for the last two days.
That’s fine with us, as it makes for more exciting basketball action and more NBA betting. Before you finalize any bets for tonight’s action, though, be sure to run through today’s schedule to see which way we’re leaning:
Raptors @ Bucks
Milwaukee has been touch and go all year but it’s worth noting they’ve been getting killer minutes out of Michael Carter-Williams. The Bucks still have inconsistent defense and head coach Jason Kidd (back) isn’t with the team. Toronto has kept it together (6-4) over their last 10 games and even gets defensive ace DeMarre Carroll back tonight. They’re just 9-7 on the road, but they’re getting healthy and are the better team.
Pick: Raptors 102, Bucks 98
Heat @ Magic
Miami got a nice OT win last night over the Pelicans, but now take it to the road, where they’re just 4-5 on the season. Orlando has surprisingly been quite strong on the year and is specifically a problem at home (10-5). These teams both like to play defense and are pretty evenly matched, but I’m favoring the home team tonight.
Pick: Magic 101, Heat 99
Knicks @ Hawks
Carmelo Anthony should be back after sitting out the last game, and the Knicks will need him in top form to take down the Hawks in Atlanta. New York is starting to slip with two straight losses and just a 4-6 run in their last 10 contests. Atlanta, on the other hand, has won five in a row and is a solid 11-6 on their home floor this year.
Pick: Hawks 107, Knicks 101
Bulls @ Mavericks
Chicago should be a little tired after getting an impressive win at OKC last night, but that may not matter with the Mavs potentially down both Deron Williams and Devin Harris. Chicago has been very up and down this year, but so have the Mavs. Given how good the Bulls looked last night, I’ll take them tonight, even on the road.
Pick: Bulls 104, Mavs 102
Clippers @ Jazz
Los Angeles is extremely average on the road this year (7-7), but unlike the Jazz can actually score the ball and are healthy. Utah has slipped a bit without big man Rudy Gobert, and could even be without Derrick Favors tonight.
Pick: Clippers 101, Jazz 97
Cavaliers @ Blazers
Cleveland is going to be a bit worn down after losing to the Warriors on the road last night, while they’ll also be without Kyrie Irving (rest). That shouldn’t keep them from taking down the Blazers, however, as Portland has lost five straight and will be without Damian Lillard.
Pick: Cavs 105, Blazers 96
Rockets @ Pelicans
Houston got a huge home win over the Spurs last night, so they could be vulnerable for a letdown on the road. Anthony Davis is fresh off of a huge game, while the Pelicans have done most of their damage (6-6) at home this year.
Pick: Pelicans 106, Rockets 104
Grizzlies @ Hornets
Charlotte has begun to see a sharp slide (three straight losses), but luckily they get a pretty pedestrian Memphis squad at home. Normally the Grizzlies could be a team to fear, but their defense hasn’t been as good as normal and Charlotte is quite tough on their home turf (11-5 at home).
Pick: Hornets 102, Grizzlies 99
Celtics @ Pistons
This game is all about tempo control, as Detroit is fantastic at controlling pace and playing defense, while the Celtics can push the pace and put up a lot of points. Of the two, Boston still has the better balance of defending and scoring, but I’m not sure they can handle Andre Drummond down low. Detroit also hosts tonight and they’re a staggering 10-4 at home.
Pick: Pistons 97, Celtics 95
Pacers @ Timberwolves
Paul George aims to get out of a mild funk tonight, and that feels likely against a Timberwolves team he torched last time out. Minnesota is a bit better than given credit for, but they seem to be worse on their home floor (4-11) for some reason.
Pick: Pacers 107, T’Wolves 104
Nuggets @ Spurs
Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili are out tonight, but the Nuggets are down some healthy bodies of their own. San Antonio should get a nice bounce back win after losing on the road road to the Rockets. Their unblemished 16-0 home record demands it.
Pick: Spurs 108, Nuggets 97
76ers @ Suns
This won’t be the highest-scoring game of the night, but it very well could be the most fast-paced. Ish Smith could debut with his old/new team against another one of his former teams, so this game has some appeal. Phoenix is easily the better team and they’re at home, though, so it’d be tough to buy the Sixers stumbling into their second win of the year.
Pick: Suns 111, Sixers 106