NBA Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Monday, December 26th

By Jonathan Von Tobel  (Senior NBA Analyst) 

December 26, 2022 09:44 AM

Welcome to the daily NBA best bets page, your source for analysis on the betting lines for the day in professional hoops. For updates throughout the day follow me on Twitter, and make sure to subscribe to the Hardwood Handicappers podcast!

All game lines via the VSiN NBA odds page

*Indicates team is on the second leg of a back-to-back

**Lines are opening numbers

Best Bets

Record: 31-39 | Units: -9.02 | ROI: -13.24%

Brooklyn Nets at Cleveland Cavaliers (-2, 220.5)

Brooklyn is not only winning games at an insane clip, but it is also starting to cover numbers. The Nets are on an 8-0 SU run, over which they are 5-3 ATS with an average cover margin of 5.3 points per game. This is an interesting opportunity for Brooklyn to continue its run, as they face a dominant defensive team in Cleveland, but one that is frontcourt oriented as opposed to backcourt oriented. The Cavaliers have no real defensive option for Kevin Durant, who comes into this game averaging 31.6 points, 6.6 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game on 60.4% shooting from the floor. It will likely be second year forward Evan Mobley who draws the defensive assignment, but Mobley has hardly been the defender he was last season, and Durant’s speed gives him an advantage, much like his size gives him the advantage over any shorter defender.

Brooklyn also has some very good defensive options to throw at Cleveland tonight. Royce O’Neale is a capable defender who can face Donovan Mitchell, Ben Simmons can switch out onto the perimeter to match up with any backcourt player and Durant is playing some of the best defense of his career right now. The Cavaliers will be able to go after Kyrie Irving consistently when they are on offense, but it would seem that the Nets do have a few more defensive options to throw at them.

The betting market has not budged on this number, but the total is now as high as 222 at some shops with the consensus being 221.5 right now. That move does make sense. Cleveland has no true defensive option for Durant which should allow him to continue his dominant scoring, while opening the floor for others. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers do love to get to the rim with their bigs and the Nets do give up the seventh most shots at the rim while also ranking 22nd in transition defense, which should give Cleveland an opportunity to get out and run. If this game gets off to a slow start the in-game Over will be a great angle for bettors to attack.

Los Angeles Clippers (-4.5, 223) at Detroit Pistons

Last time we saw Los Angeles it looked like a championship contender and a team struggling to find its identity, all in the same game. The Clippers blew a 20-point first half lead in Philadelphia on Friday to ruin a 5-1 SU and ATS run the team was on. Tonight, they are in Detroit to face the Pistons, but they will do so without Kawhi Leonard who is going to rest on the front end of a back-to-back. This team has been completely different without Leonard on the floor, posting a -5.0 net rating in non-garbage time while averaging 108.0 points per 100 possessions on offense. 

It’s not a team with which I would be willing to lay a number which has already been bet into. Instead, it is a team worth monitoring for in-game opportunities. When Paul George, who is expected to play tonight, is on the floor without Leonard the Clippers are +2.5 with a 113.6 offensive rating. However, when both are off the floor, the team we will see tonight when George rests, Los Angeles is outscored by 11.6 points per 100 possessions. That would be the time to either buy low on Detroit, or wait until George checks back in to get a cheaper price on the road favorite.

Minnesota Timberwolves at Miami Heat (-5, 223.5)

Miami is now 2-8 ATS in its last 10 games, and is still the worst cover team in the NBA at 10-22-1 ATS (31.2%). Its injury report today is absolutely loaded as well, making it nearly impossible to get an edge on this game preflop. Bam Adebayo, Jimmy Butler and Gabe Vincent are all questionable to play, and if either Adebayo or Butler cannot play those are line changing absences. Minnesota has dropped its last two games both SU and ATS, and since losing Karl-Anthony Towns the team is 6-7 SU and ATS with a -3.6 net rating. Both teams have been as inconsistent as they come this season, and unworthy of betting on this early in the day with such an unclear injury situation for one of the teams.

Houston Rockets at Chicago Bulls (-8, 227)

Chicago has won and covered its last three games, and all against struggling competition. It would track that the Bulls should be able to do the same against the Rockets which come in on an 0-5 SU/2-3 ATS slide. Alex Caruso will not play for Chicago once again tonight, and that is obviously a loss on defense for a team that has been wildly inconsistent on that end of the floor. The betting market has moved this line off the opening number and down to 7.5 consensus which makes sense given the Caruso injury and the Bulls’ poor defense. It also jives with the total being bet up to 230 consensus. 

Indiana Pacers at New Orleans Pelicans (-6.5, 232.5)

Despite not having Zion Williamson on the floor, New Orleans got back on track in its last two contests with wins and covers against San Antonio and Oklahoma City. Williamson did not receive an injury designation tonight, and is expected to be back for the Pelicans who host the Pacers which are 4-1 ATS in their last five games. This total has been pushed up to 236.5 consensus which makes sense given Indiana and New Orleans rank sixth and 11th in pace respectively and love to run. The market has not done much with the side at all, but there are a few shops at -7 on the board this morning. 

Utah Jazz (-5.5, 236) at San Antonio Spurs

Each time it seems Utah is going to let go of the rope and regress they snap right back into form. The Jazz are 4-3 SU in their last seven games, but 5-2 ATS with wins and covers in their last two outings. They are in San Antonio tonight to face the Spurs which have reverted back to their tanking ways with a 1-4 SU and ATS record in their last five games with a 120.4 defensive rating. Utah is not going to have Kelly OIynyk once more tonight, but I am not sure that is the reason that this line is now 4.5 consensus. 

Charlotte Hornets at Portland Trail Blazers (-6, 237.5)

Charlotte’s west coast roadtrip has gone somewhat well. The Hornets have split the four games thus far and are 3-1 ATS heading into the penultimate game on the trip in Portland. The Trail Blazers have hit a rough patch on the schedule, posting a 1-4 SU and ATS record in the five games prior to this one with a 116.8 defensive rating. Charlotte does not have many advantages here, but the one that could turn this matchup is its ability to force turnovers. The Hornets force turnovers on 15.2% of opponents possessions and the Trail Blazers turn it over on 15.7% of their possessions. That has led Portland to ranking 25th in opponent points per 100 plays in transition off steals (143.0), an offensive category in which the Hornets lead the league. 

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