A very solid 5-game NBA Friday slate awaits us, featuring an always exciting TNT double-header. Boston travel to Houston in our first game, whilst Ben Simmons and the Sixers make the trip to Utah for the second. Golden State will also look to get back to winning ways as they play host to the Blazers. Let’s take a look at our 3 best bets on the board.
Houston enters this one off a very impressive victory over OKC on Christmas Day. James Harden was phenomenal in this one, pouring in 41 points, 6 rebounds, and 7 assists. Center Clint Capela also balled out, adding 16 points and a Christmas-record 23 rebounds. Even the much-maligned Austin Rivers played an important role, scoring in double-figures in his 31 minutes off the bench.
The Celtics enter this one off an epic Overtime comeback win against Philadelphia last time out. Kyrie Irving was outstanding, pouring in 40 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 assists. Forwards Marcus Morris and Jayson Tatum were both excellent in complementary roles, dropping 23 points each here. With Center Al Horford back in this one, the Celtics full complement should give them the edge here.
Prediction: Celtics -1
The Celtics are clearly the better team in this one and I expect a road win from them in front of a primetime audience. With Chris Paul out, Houston’s backcourt depth is already thin, but news of James Harden being questionable takes this to a whole new level. Even if Harden plays, expect the defence of Marcus Smart to suffocate this Rockets offence.
Golden State Warriors
Golden State enter this one off a horiffic loss against the Lakers on Christmas Day. Draymond Green came under much criticism for his play, scoring just 4 points and throwing up 3 air balls. Klay Thompson wasn’t much better, totalling just 5 points of his own. Even Stephen Curry continued his Christmas slump, going 5/17 from the field. In what was an uncharacteristically poor display, I expect the Dubs to bounce back here.
Portland Trail Blazers
Portland also enter this one off the back of a Christmas Day defeat, a 21-point loss to the Jazz. Damian Lillard was the only one who did anything offensively, totalling 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. C.J. McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic both struggled from the field, going 4/14 and 3/10 respectively. Coming up against a motivated Golden State team here, I don’t like Portland’s chances of improving on their 6-10 road record.
Prediction: 1st Half Over 109.5
With a full-game total of 226, we’re getting 3.5 points of value in this one. Golden State had a terrible offensive showing on Christmas and will look to get back to their obvious best. From the Portland side, Dame Lillard always tends to put up a show in his home town of Oakland and should hang with Steph Curry here.
Utah enter this one off a convincing Christmas Day win over Portland. Center Rudy Gobert led the way, going off for 18 points, 14 rebounds, and 7 blocks. Joe Ingles also enjoyed a solid day, with 15 points, 7 rebounds, and 5 assists. After all the debate with Ben Simmons last season over Rookie of the Year, expect Donovan Mitchell to also be extremely motivated for this one.
The Sixers enter this one at 22-13 after a heartbreaking overtime loss in Boston on Christmas. Center Joel Embiid was outstanding in defeat, going off for 34 points and 16 rebounds. Jimmy Butler also had a solid day, pouring in 24 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists. Aussie Ben Simmons rounded out the big 3 nicely, falling just 2 assists shy of a triple-double.
Prediction: 76ers 1st Quarter +2
With a full game spread of 5 points, I believe we’re getting solid value in this one. Whilst Philly’s depth is nothing special, I think their starting lineup is better than Utah’s. After an agonizing defeat on Christmas, expect a fast start from the Sixers here.