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WAS Wizards Win -2.0CHA Hornets @ WAS Wizards
The Charlotte Hornets were incredibly disappointing last night, losing at home to the Phoenix Suns by 34 points. It does not get much easier for them tonight as they travel to take on the Washington Wizards. The Hornets have really struggled on the second night of back-to-backs this season, losing all 7. Their defensive effort seems to drop in those games, with their points allowed per game rising to 125.6 per night. The Wizards are a strong team at home, winning 9 of their 15 games. The team will likely be without Spencer Dinwiddie and Montrezl Harrell, but the form of Bradley Beal and Kyle Kuzma should provide enough of a scoring punch.
Last night the Hornets showed that they cannot yet be trusted as a defensive team, with the squad proving why they rank 28th in the NBA in defensive rating. The team allowed Chris Paul to dictate the pace of play with the point guard managing 16 assists and they could have similar issues containing Beal tonight. Beal had a 17-assist night in his last game against the Bulls and is also capable of taking over the game with his scoring too, having not posted fewer than 25 points in any of his last 5 games. Look for him to dominate and extend the Hornets’ winless streak when playing on no rest.
PHI 76ers Win -13.0HOU Rockets @ PHI 76ers
The state of the Houston Rockets is pretty bad right now, both on and off the court. They suffered their 7th straight loss against Denver, by 124-111 at home on New Year’s Day. Leading scorer and best player Christian Wood came off the bench and played just 8 minutes after being punished by the coaching staff for breaking a team rule and that’s not all. Kevin Porter Jr. also got into it with one of the coaches during halftime and left the arena mid-game. This team has dropped 17 of 20 on the road and they are just 2-7 against the spread in their last 9 visits to Philadelphia. With so much stuff going on around the team, their fans aren’t optimistic for tonight’s game.
Philadelphia has enjoyed a solid end to the year with 4 wins in 5 games and all of them came against Eastern Conference rivals, which is a good sign. They even beat a Brooklyn Nets team that had both Kevin Durant and James Harden playing at a high level, Philly is slowly returning to being a top 3 team in the East. Joel Embiid has scored at least 32 points in 5 of his last 6 games, including a 41-point night at Boston 10 days ago. With 5 wins in their last 6 against Southwest Division opponents I really like their chances in this one. It’s hard to blow out teams in the NBA, regardless of how bad they are, but the Rockets have dropped 7 straight and 6 of them have been by double digits. The situation escalated with those incidents between players and coaches, and until that is resolved we may not see them turning things around. Take Philadelphia to cover.
MEM Grizzlies Win +6.5MEM Grizzlies @ BKN Nets
Not many people would have thought the Memphis Grizzlies would be the No. 4 seed in the West entering January, but here we are. This team is riding a 4-game win streak, even beating the Phoenix Suns last week. In their latest win over San Antonio it was Ja Morant once again who led the scoring with 30 points, while 5 other Grizzlies scored in double digits. Bettors just love this team as they’ve covered in 12 of 18 games, including 8 of their last 9 on the road. It gets even better in head-to-head meetings against Brooklyn – in their last 7 visits they are a perfect 7-0 against the spread.
The Nets finally got Kevin Durant back from health and safety protocols, but even he couldn’t help them in the previous 2 games as they lost to Philly and the Clippers at home. Covering at Barclays Center has been an issue all season. They are only 1-9 ATS in their last 10 there and 4-13-1 ATS for the season. As far as injuries go, most of their players are back from quarantine. The only notable absentee is Joe Harris, who is out with a ankle injury. One thing this team will try to rely on coming into tonight’s game is their ability to defend the perimeter. Opponents score on just 31.6% from downtown against them, the best mark in the league. The Grizzlies could be a sleeper team in the West if they continue playing like this. They’ve won 14 of 18 games and have been very consistent in covering the spread, especially against the Nets. Take Ja Morant and Memphis plus the extra points.
MIL Bucks Win -16.0DET Pistons @ MIL Bucks
The Milwaukee Bucks have won their last 6 games and have been dispatching some of the NBA’s weaker teams with ease. In their last 3 games they have beaten the Orlando Magic twice by margins of 17 and 18 points. They followed that with a 23-point win over the New Orleans Pelicans despite not having Khris Middleton in their lineup. The forward has a chance to return tonight, which should solidify their prospects. The Pistons are coming into tonight’s game after an overtime win at home against the San Antonio Spurs, but they really struggle when they travel. They lost to that same Spurs team by 35 points in San Antonio a week ago. Their points differential in road games is -12.6 on the season, twice as bad as it is at home.
The Detroit Pistons remain without their leading scorer Jerami Grant, which could really limit their offensive potential. The team will also be without guard Frank Jackson, who has given them a scoring boost at times this season. Without these weapons, it is tough to see a team that is bottom of the NBA in offensive rating keeping pace with the defending champions, who have scored more than 120 points in 4 of their last 6 games. Pistons center Luke Garza may be forced to pick up Giannis Antetokounmpo tonight too, which could lead to the Pistons man getting repeatedly exposed off the dribble and in the paint. Back the Bucks to cover.
ORL Magic Win +14.5ORL Magic @ CHI Bulls
The Chicago Bulls are riding a 7-game winning streak but they were reliant on some DeMar DeRozan heroics in their last 2 games. The guard hit back-to-back game winners at the buzzer as the Bulls squeezed past the Washington Wizards and the Indiana Pacers. Tonight, they should have an easier time at home against the Magic, but considering they have not been blowing away teams, the line seems to be set too high. The Magic are stronger on the road than they are at home, with 5 of their 7 wins coming on the highway. And while this will be their second game in as many nights, they have done okay in such situations this season, with a point differential of -8.1.
The Orlando Magic have recently welcomed back Mo Bamba and Terrence Ross to their squad which could give them a massive lift. The Bulls were able to score just 6 bench points in their last game, while Ross had 33 by himself last night. If he can stay hot, the Magic bench should be able to keep the game competitive. Over the last 10 games the Bulls rank below the Magic in defensive rating, coming in at 25th in the league. They have allowed at least 115 points in 4 of their last 6 games and without Alex Caruso, it is hard to see that improve. The Bulls should win, but they could struggle to create enough separation to cover.
UTA Jazz Win -10.5UTA Jazz @ NO Pelicans
The Jazz just had their 6-game winning streak snapped, losing to Golden State as a home favorite. The loss was surprising, not just because they were favored, but because they had their top 8 healthy with top-scorer Donovan Mitchell coming back to from health and safety protocols. He was horribly inefficient though, making just 4 of his 19 shots. He did get to 20 points, tying for the team lead with 3 other players. They have such good depth.
New Orleans just got roughed up by Milwaukee and they are in really bad shape. The return of Zion Williamson is nowhere in sight, top scorer Brandon Ingram is out with an Achilles injury and second-leading scorer and top rebounder Jonas Valanciunas is in health and safety protocols. Those absences create opportunities for others but it also means that the Pelicans’ most trustworthy player is guard Devonte’ Graham. That is definitely not a great position to be in. Utah has been pretty good about bouncing back from losses this season. The Jazz are 6-3 SU after a loss. They are only 4-5 against the spread in that role but this is a good spot given how depleted the Pelicans are and that Utah is truly one of the elite teams in the NBA. Their balance of strong offense and defense makes this double-digit spread more than manageable, even on the road. Take Utah.
DEN Nuggets Win +3.5DEN Nuggets @ DAL Mavericks
The Denver Nuggets (18-16) will travel to face the Dallas Mavericks (18-18) following their 124-111 win over the Houston Rockets on Saturday. The Nuggets, who will be closing out a short 2-game road trip, enter tonight’s game on a 3-game win streak after defeating the Clippers and Warriors to close out 2021. Nikola Jokic is having one of the greatest offensive seasons in NBA history and leads the team in points, rebounds, assists, steals and blocks with 25.7 ppg, 13.9 rpg, 7 apg, 1.4 spg, and 0.8 bpg. The Mavericks are coming off a 95-86 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder last night on the road. The Mavericks will play in the first game of a short 2-game home stand and enter tonight’s game on a 2-game win streak with wins over the Kings and Thunder to close out a 5-game road trip. Luka Doncic, who returned to action from health and safety protocols in Dallas’ last game, leads the team with 25.1 ppg along with team highs in rebounds with 8 rpg and assists with 8.5 apg.
Jokic’s performances up to this point in the season have been so good that he is rightfully in this year’s MVP discussion. In his last 4 games alone, Jokic is averaging 25.3 ppg, 18.3 rpg, and 5.3 apg, including 2 20-point, 20-rebound games. Jokic has done so in a way that isn’t overbearing and the Nuggets are a top-10 offensive team on the road this season. With the Mavericks struggling to defend at home and with a revolving door as players return from the sidelines, take the Nuggets to cover tonight’s spread.
ATL Hawks Win -3.0ATL Hawks @ POR Trail Blazers
Atlanta is dealing with some major absences. That is just one reason this team is struggling, though, as they had a hard time with consistency even when they were healthy. Trae Young is in the lineup and so is Clint Capela, but those are the only available starters. The big missing piece is forward John Collins. He is just the second option, but his all-around game is critical to the Hawks’ success. Cam Reddish has been getting a lot of run lately thanks to all of the available minutes, but he is questionable for this game with an old-fashioned ankle injury. He did play in their recent win against Cleveland. Portland is a mess right now. They have lost 4 in a row and the closest they have come is 14 points. They are dealing with significant roster losses and, just like Atlanta, that is only part of the story as they were struggling beforehand too. The biggest loss is CJ McCollum and his injury is unique, so it is hard to know when he will be returning. Portland can cover things in the backcourt with Damian Lillard and Norm Powell but up front they are not getting much with mainstays Jusuf Nurkic and Robert Covington in health and safety protocols.
It says a lot about the state of the Blazers that the Hawks are favored on the road in this spot. They have Young healthy and based on what we have seen this season he is more than capable of matching Lillard. If he does that, the depth of the Hawks is capable of making the difference in a road win. It means trusting a team that has question marks, but who doesn’t right now? Atlanta is 3-2 SU and 2-3 against the spread as a road favorite this season. This is a single-possession spread, so it is likely that whoever wins the game also covers. Atlanta is at least coming off a road win, so they have some positive momentum while Portland is in a deep funk. Take Atlanta.
MIA Heat Win +9.0MIA Heat @ GS Warriors
On Monday evening, the Miami Heat and the Golden State Warriors will battle at the Chase Center. Similar to the rest of the NBA, this contest is heavily impacted by COVID-19 and the injury bug. At the time of writing, Miami has not released an official injury report. However, it is likely that Bam Adebayo, Dewayne Dedmon, Marcus Garrett, Udonis Haslem, Markieff Morris, KZ Okpala, Duncan Robinson, Max Strus, PJ Tucker and Gabe Vincent will remain listed as out after missing yesterday’s game against the Sacramento Kings. Notably, the Warriors will return Draymond Green and Damion Lee from health and safety protocols for this matchup, putting this group at near full-strength.
Per Cleaning the Glass, Miami’s absences are not a death sentence for them in this one. Using only the players they have available for this game, the Heat still rank in the 97th percentile in offensive efficiency and the 67th percentile in defensive efficiency, though bettors should be cautious about putting too much weight into statistics with such a small sample size. At full strength (minus Klay Thompson and James Wiseman), Golden State ranks in the 71st percentile in offensive efficiency and the 92nd percentile in defensive efficiency on the year. When favored by 8 or more points this season, Golden State is 7-4-1 against the spread. As an underdog this season, Miami is 10-3 ATS. In their last 10 games, Miami ranks 8th in the NBA in Net Rating, outscoring their opponents by 5.6 points per 100 possessions. Golden State has arguably the best roster in the league, but covering 8 points is difficult, even against sub-par teams. The Heat should be able to do enough to cover a large spread.
NBA Under-Over Picks
Over 229.0CHA Hornets @ WAS Wizards
Over 228.5MEM Grizzlies @ BKN Nets
Over 221.0ORL Magic @ CHI Bulls
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