It’s a new year and we can start it off right with just two NBA games taking some of our attention away from the NCAA football bowl games. NBA bettors will be able to relax with the light schedule, but it’ll still be nice to nail down these two picks and collect some cash. The good news is that while there is only one team above .500 in this grouping, all four teams at least have watchable talent and can score the basketball.

Let’s break down the two games for Thursday and night and see who makes sense to pick:

Denver Nuggets @ Chicago Bulls

Chicago gets the new year started off right at home and will try to contain a solid Denver offense. Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah should be able to have their way down low, as Kenneth Faried and the rest of the Nuggets interior defense has struggled defensively all year long. Ty Lawson and Derrick Rose will be a fun battle to watch, too, but this matchup rests in Chicago’s favor the whole way. Denver could come out firing at first, but Jimmy Butler’s rise to the top of the league is the kicker for the Bulls, who have won eight of their last 10.

Pick: Bulls 104, Nuggets 102

Sacramento Kings @ Minnesota Timberwolves

The Kings head into Minnesota with two straight losses, but their skid is nothing compared to the Wolves’ insane nine-game losing streak. Minnesota’s only real advantage is that they’re at home in this one, but with a meager 3-11 home record, that’s not going to do much. The Kings have been an inconsistent bunch, but DeMarcus Cousins is a real problem down low and should be able to drop a nice game on Minnesota’s weak defense. The T’Wolves remain under-manned and there is little to suggest they’ll snap this skid tonight – or really anytime soon.

Pick: Kings 106, T’Wolves 99

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