Free NBA Picks Wednesday 12/23/2020 and Opening Line Report
The NBA is back after a short hiatus. The league wanted to get back on track with the schedule so next season can start around the normal October time. The Los Angeles Lakers won the NBA Championship in the Orlando bubble on October 11. It’s now December 22 and we’ve got basketball. On Wednesday, 26 teams will make their season debuts. Here are some early leans for some of the top games on the slate for December 23.
Bucks vs Celtics 12/23/20 (+3, 225)
The Celtics have a tough schedule to open up the season. They’ll get the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday and then the Brooklyn Nets on Christmas. The Bucks went 56-17 last season and were the No. 1 team in the NBA, only to get embarrassed in the NBA's bubble in Florida. On the other hand, instead of exceeding expectations, the Celtics struggled, losing games they shouldn't have and just looking out of sync as a unit, especially against the Miami Heat in the East Semifinals. But now we’re back in the regular season and this is an area where the Bucks seem to overachieve. Last season the unit led the league with the best offense with a field goal percentage of 47.6 percent. The Bucks also rebounded extremely well behind super star Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Celtics committed less turnovers, shot better from three and were one of the better defenses in the league. Both teams are deep and both teams believe they’ll make a big run in the regular season and playoffs. But I like the Celtics at home. They’ve got some new additions like Tristan Thompson and Jeff Teague that will prove to make a difference along with the young veterans like Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker and Jaylen Brown.
Key trends: BOSTON is 5-5 against the spread versus MILWAUKEE over the last 3 seasons
Early lean: Celtics, Under
Thunder vs Rockets 12/23/20 (-6.5, 226)
It’s been chaos this off-season for the Houston Rockets. Russell Westbrook was traded from Houston to Washington, and Mike D’Antoni was fired from his head coaching job and is now an assistant for the Brooklyn Nets.
The Rockets are a completely new team. They traded for John Wall, who seems to be healthy, and added Christian Wood, who could potentially breakout with Houston. But James Harden is extremely unhappy with Houston and wants out. Will he give the same effort? Is he becoming a distraction?
These are serious questions that we’ll have the answer to after this game. The Thunder are without Chris Paul and are a young but talented team. This Thunder team is young and played so well down the stretch last season. I’d rely on the Thunder in this spot.
Key trends: OKLAHOMA CITY is 10-4 against the spread versus HOUSTON over the last 3 seasons
Early lean: Thunder, Over
Pistons vs Timberwolves 12/23/20 (-4.5, 226.5)
We finally get to see Anthony Edwards in action. He might not start the first game, but he’ll get in action. The Pistons will likely struggle on defense this season, while the Wolves have now bolstered up their offense with Edwards, D’Angelo Russell, Karl Anthony-Towns, Jarrett Culver and Malik Beasley. There’s so much potential with this team. Defense might struggle, but the Pistons offense really isn’t much to rave about. They won’t be able to keep up with the Wolves.
Key trends: 3 of 3 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons
Early lean: Timberwolves, Over
Jazz vs Trailblazers 12/23/20 (-1, 228.5)
The Jazz just signed Rudy Gobert to a record-breaking deal. All that talk about poor chemistry and hate between the Jazz players in the locker room was all smoke and mirrors. Everything is fine. This team is looking to compete for a chance at a championship. On the other hand, the Blazers are healthy. And with that health, they believe they’re a top team in the league with one of the best backcourts in the league.
Portland’s defense might struggle this season. That would be my concern for Portland. Meanwhile, the Jazz have their moments on offense and defense. They’ve been inconsistent dating back to last season. But I still like the Jazz to come out on top in this one.
Key trends: UTAH is 4-3 straight up against PORTLAND over the last 3 seasons
Early lean: Jazz, Under
Mavericks vs Suns 12/23/20 (-1, 237)
The Suns are a talented group of young players and now added Chris Paul to anchor this team. He did a fantastic job in Oklahoma City, leaving many to believe he’ll bring the same leadership to this Suns team.
All of that is possible, but Luka Doncic and the Mavericks should not be underdogs against a Phoenix Suns team that needed a miracle last season to make the postseason. The Mavericks are on the road, but you can expect a huge duel between Luka Doncic and Devin Booker.
Doncic is currently the favorite to win MVP. He’s going to need to step up in games like this one if he wants that award.
Key trends: DALLAS is 23-10 ATS (+12.0 Units) in road games over the last 2 seasons.
Early lean: Mavericks, Over
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