December 16th, 2015 (2:55 PM ET)
Given tonight's full NBA schedule (12 games), there is great value resulting in 4 picks!
Please scroll down to view them all.
1) Take Detroit Pistons at -2 spread against Boston Celtics for 3% of the bankroll.
The Boston Celtics took on the Cavaliers last night and had a chance to show the world that they are legit contenders in the Eastern Conference. Their matchup with the Cavs was also a chance for Boston to get revenge over the team that swept them 4-0 in the playoff last year! It was a big game for them and after leading 46-40 at half-time, their confidence was at an all-time high! Unfortunately for them, they could not keep their momentum going and were completely shut down in the second half by the Cleveland defense, getting outscored by 18 and ultimately falling 89-77!
That was a very emotionally charged game for the C's and to have such a poor showing in the second half, especially at home, had to be extremely deflating for them! What makes matter worse is that they not only had to deal with the disappointing loss to the East champs but they had to quickly pack their bags and travel to Motown to face another defensive minded team in the Pistons who rank seventh in points allowed! This is an extremely quick turnaround for Boston and may not serve them well given the energy that they expended last night.
The Pistons themselves will be looking to bounce back in this contest after a tough loss on Monday to the LA Clippers. In that contest, JJ Redick connected on a 3-pointer with just 19 second remaining in the game to tie it all up. Reggie Jackson then had a chance to win it in regulation but fell short with his mid-range jumper which sent the game to overtime. In OT, the Clippers led by two in the final seconds but Detroit again had their chances only to suffer a narrow 105-103 defeat. Stan van Gundy was quick to praise his team's effort afterward, keeping their confidence high and admitted that the Pistons largely played well in that contest. They simply need to get better at closing games out and have learned a great deal about that recently. They will be motivated to get back to winning ways at home where they sport a 9-4 record on the season!
While both squads are coming off a defeat, this is a much better situation for the Pistons since they have had a day to rest and reflect on their loss to the Clippers. This has been a scenario in which the Pistons have capitalized on as they are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games with rest off a loss! For the Celtics, there was no time to heal physical and emotional wounds and little time to get over last night's defeat. This is certainly a less than ideal situation for Brad Stevens' group to find themselves in and we believe the home team will take advantage of it. Andre Drummond leads the NBA with 16.3 rebounds per game and has troubled Boston in the past. He'll be going up against Jared Sullinger and is no doubt the more athletic player of the two. The dominant big man is hooking up very well with PG Reggie Jackson these days as they seem in sync. Jackson has been given the keys to the franchiseand plays much better at The Palace than he does on the road. He's coming off a strong performance and we expect him to give the undersized Isaiah Thomas and company fits.
The Palace of Auburn Hills can be an difficult place to play and the Pistons have enjoyed quite the home court advantage. They are 24-9-1 ATS in their last 34 games in Detroit! The Celtics haven't had much success on this court having gone just 2-5 ATS in the last 7 meetings. The Pistons are in a great position to pick up the victory in this contest and we believe they will. With the spread being where it is at, a win for the Pistons should allow them to cover or at least push as only one number (a win by 1 point) does not work for us. The value is on the home team. This may be a closely contested battle for the most part but we foresee Caldwell-Pope and teammates pulling away from the Celtics at some stage.
2) Take Washington Wizards at +13 spread against San Antonio Spurs for 3% of the bankroll.
The Spurs are not only riding another winning streak but have dismantled their last three opponents by 37, 25 and 22 points respectively! Is it any wonder then that the average bettor is quick to pull the trigger on them at -13 tonight? It isn't but such actions are 'square' and often lead to busted tickets. When a team is winning games by double-digits and with such ease, it often creates a false sense of security. Even for a veteran team like Spurs with the best coach in NBA on the sidelines, it still breeds complacency much to Popovich's dismay and often leads to players not giving their 100% in the subsequent games. The Spurs are gonna need to play the 4 full quarters with focus and intensity to cover this inflated spread and we don't see it happening.
Keeping concentration levels high is difficult enough when a squad is on a hot run of form but it is even more challenging when they are missing their captain and veteran voice, Tim Duncan. The legendary big man is being rested tonight and it'll be LaMarcus Aldridge that will start as Center. Aldridge is a legitimate All-Star and a great offensive weapon but despite being in the league for many years, his defensive skills still leave a lot to be desired. Against John Wall and company, Spurs may miss the shot-blocking abilities of Duncan who even at this age was averaging 1.4 per game! Wall and his teammates frequently penetrate the lane and cause all sorts of problems for defenses. Aron Baynes is no longer with the Spurs and Matt Bonner while talented does not have the same defensive focus and intensity. We believe the Wizards will prove a bigger challenge than most anticipate and keep this game fairly close.
Washington is being written off by just about everyone and while some of it is completely warranted and deserved, some of it is not. This is a squad that performs well in big games but overlooks lowly opposition. They've already beaten the Cavaliers, Heat, Mavericks and these same Spurs but fallen to the likes of Lakers and Pelicans! For whatever reason, they don't always get up for the lesser teams but have wanted to put on a show and prove that they belong against the big boys. The San Antonio Spurs certainly fall in that category as perennial contenders.
The fact that Bradley Beal, Nene, Drew Gooden and Alan Anderson are currently out injured has massively inflated this spread but Beal's absence is the only one that really matters. That's because Alan Anderson while a well-rounded individual has yet to make his debut for the Wizards having been out injured all season after coming over from the Nets. Meanwhile the Brazilian, Nene Hilario and Drew Gooden were big contributors last year but have not featured much this year. Kris Humphries will likely get the nod at the 4 spot and Randy Wittman has shown his propensity to go with a smaller lineup featuring Otto Porter and Jared Dudley anyway. At the guard positions, Ramon Sessions, Garrett Temple and Gary Neal will get solid playing time and while not household names, they are decent players. Gary Neal played the role of a 3-point specialist in his days here at San Antonio and scored 24 points in the Wizards' loss to Memphis! He might just have a point to prove against his former employers and could play a role in keeping Washington within the generous point-spread.
The Spurs host Clippers next and will have had their game circled on their calendars. That's because they've not forgotten about the team that knocked them out of the Western Conference playoffs last season in a crucial Game 7! They will want to head into that contest fresh and ready and this is a let-down spot for them after some big wins and now facing a lesser non-conference opponent. The team from the nation's capital on the other hand is determined to not only bounce back from defeat but to prove its worth against a quality opponent again and will give it their all. Much like the Blazers vs. Thunder matchup, this is a contest where one team is solely focused on the task at hand while the other may be slightly complacent and looking ahead. One way or another, the Wizards can stay within the 13 points in this contest even if it comes through a backdoor cover after heading into the 4th quarter down by 20 points! We believe the final score will be closer than the average Joe thinks and the sharps will cash out tickets fading the public in this spot.
3) Take Orlando Magic at -1 spread against Charlotte Hornets for 3% of the bankroll.
The Magic continue to impress this season and have cashed out more tickets than any other NBA team, covering the spread 16 of 23 times! And yet for now they continue to fly under the radar and there is value backing them. Tonight they are laying a minimal amount of points at home in a game against a division opponent that they are just 1.5 games behind! They no doubt want to be where the Hornets are in the Southeast division and have an excellent opportunity to pull a full game back against them. The Hornets last played on Dec 12th, four days ago! It was the first time this season that they got such a lengthy break and while the first day or two off-days are welcomed and allow for niggling injuries to heal, additional rest days lead to rust and it wouldn't surprise us if Charlotte was flat in the first half tonight!
Orlando has gone through a transition with new head coach Scott Skiles and is better off defensively for it! They are limiting opponents to just 42.6% shooting from the field and play with an intensity that was not evient under the previous regime. The gutsy decision to take Victor Oladipo out of the starting lineup and bring him off the bench has largely worked out well for the Floridans. He is a legitimate scoring threat from the bench while Frenchman, Evan Fournier, starts most games and is also a capable shooter while being a better defender than the sophomore. Nikola Vucevic should get the better of Cody Zeller at the Center spot tonight and that may well prove the difference. Both big men play hard and are good rebounders but the European important from Montenegro is the more skillful player. He's got a soft touch for a big man and is technically more proficient than most C's in the league.
The Magic are solely focused on this matchup against a division opponent that they are chasing but the same can not be said for the Hornets. That's because they travel back to Charlotte right after this game to host the high-flying Toronto Raptors tomorrow. They will have certain players on minute restrictions and may choose to rest their starts in the 4th quarter if they are leading or trailing by double-digits. That may well open the window for an enthusiastic and capable Magic squad that does not have to worry about playing the next day. Orlando is 0-2 in division games this season and this is their best opportunity to secure an important W and introduce themselves as legitimate contenders. The Magic are 3-0 ATS this season following a double-digit victory! Both squads have improved and yet are a long way from elite but in this game, the home side has several advantages.
These two clubs met 4 times last season and interestingly enough, the visiting team won each matchup! The Hornets took both visits to Orlando and the Magic no doubt remember that. We believe they'll put a stop to that skid and improve to 8-4 at Amway Center tonight. Not only do they want to avenge last year's two defeats, it should be noted that the Hornets are a different team outside of Charlotte. Steve Clifford's side is 10-4 at home but owns a losing record (4-5) on the highway! They find themselves in a less than ideal scheduling spot tonight and and may well suffer another road loss. Back the home side at this affordable price as they find a way to win what should be a closely contested matchup.
4) Take Portland Blazers at +10 spread against OKC Thunder for 3% of the bankroll.
This Northwest division matchup does not have the same pregame hype and attention that it did until last year. The departure of LaMarcus Aldridge has severely lessened the national media attention on Portland. Terry Stotts' squad is no doubt going through a transition year but the new squad has gelled together nicely and is already playing as a cohesive unit. It is hard to replace quality players like Aldridge, Wes Matthews and Nic Batum but the replacements have fared better than most anticipated. Al-Farouq Aminu is relishing the opportunity to start games after previously coming off the bench in Dallas and New Orleans and gives it his all at both ends of the floor! Mason Plumlee emerged as one of the most athletic big man in NBA last year and is now regularly starting games for the Blazers after leaving Brooklyn. In the back-court, C.J. McCollum and Damien Lillard resemble The Splash Brothers at times and are among the highest scoring guard duo in the league averaging 19.7 points and 24.7 points respectively!
The Thunder are rolling right now and have won 5 in a row! They are a legitimate contender and deserve respect. Having said that, they are laying a few more points than they should in this spot given their All-Star lineup and current hype. We handicapped this game at Thunder -8 and will gladly take the 2 additional points with the underdogs now that the betting market has over-reacted to this recent stretch. Oklahoma City is coming off an hard-fought overtime battle against the feisty Jazz and are just 4-13 ATS over the last two seasons after 2 days of rest!
The biggest reason this spread is inflated in our opinion is that the Thunder go to Cleveland for a nationally-televised showdowns against LeBron James and the Cavaliers. Durant, Westbrook and company are no doubt looking forward to that and might just overlook the low profile Blazers in this contest. Portland is not the team it used to be last year as far as featuring household names and that means teams sometimes look past them in certain situations. This may well be one of those. Afterall, OKC has a very comfortable lead in the Northwest division this year and does not look to have a serious rival for the crown. Their focus therefore is elsewhere on big matchups against other big teams/starts. They want to prove their worth on TNT tomorrow night and might just sit their stars in the 4th quarter to keep them fresh. That is precisely when backdoor covers happen.
There are 3 different ways that the Trail Blazers can cover this generous spread. 1) A shocking outright win against a team that is feeling pretty pleased with itself right now and may overlook the plucky underdogs. 2) By staying competitive and within single-digits proving once again that while they are not the same team as last year, they are better than most think and finally through 3) A backdoor cover when down by double-digits as Oklahoma City takes its foot off the gas pedal and rests players in the fourth quarter. As for OKC backers? They need a convincing double-digit blowout when laying this many points and that is not as likely.
This is the big game for the Blazers tonight going up against division leaders, Thunder, while Oklahoma City has one eye on tomorrow's contest against the Cavaliers! The level of motivation, focus and desire is not the same on either side and that makes laying 10 points an extremely dangerous proposition. We'll gladly take the 10 points as we feel Portland can keep it within single digits in one way or another. Off-season acquisition from Hornets, Gerald Henderson finally had a good game under his belt with his new team last time out and may well provide a boost off the bench tonight. He is a capable player when feeling confident and it was important for him to find his footing at his new surroundings as he did. Oklahoma City is the better team but they are unlikely to cover the spread on what is a tough scheduling spot for them. Last but not least, let's not forget that they often raise/lower their performance based on the level of their competition. That is evident by their ugly 1-7 ATS (against-the-spread) record against teams with losing records!
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