Sunday December 23, 2018

A very entertaining NBA Sunday card awaits us, with 7 games of action across the association. This is headlined by a spicy affair in Philadelphia, as Ben Simmons and the Sixers play host to a potentially undermanned Toronto side. Denver travelling to face the Clippers and Utah playing host to OKC are two other exciting fixtures on the slate. With no daily multi today, let’s take a look at our 3 best bets on the board.

Miami Heat vs Milwaukee Bucks, 12 pm
Bucks -2

Miami Heat

The Heat enter this one off one of their more impressive wins of the season, a home TNT win over the Houston Rockets. Shooting Guard Josh Richardson continued his outstanding start to the season, pouring in 22 points, 7 assists, and 6 rebounds. Hassan Whiteside was also solid on the interior, totalling 17 rebounds and 2 blocks in just 24 minutes. The absence of Goran Dragic means a lot more of the playmaking will be on the shoulders of Dwyane Wade. Despite the solid season he has had so far, he’ll need to improve upon the 4/17 he had last time out.

Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks make the trip to Miami after a very convincing win in Boston last night. Small Forward Giannis Antetokounmpo continues to emerge as an MVP frontrunner, averaging a shade under 27 points and 13 boards to go with his 6 assists. A huge strength of the Bucks is their two-way ability in the starting five. Each of their starters is averaging in double figures this season and all are capable shooters. Bench contributors like Ersan Ilyasova, Tony Snell, and Pat Connaughton make for an excellent rotation that should compete in the playoffs.

Prediction: Bucks -2

Whilst it does seem like a trap game for Milwaukee, the win in Boston last night was a less-taxing blowout. They have a significant talent advantage on the Heat in this one and I expect their defence to contain a limited Miami offence. With no-one to guard Giannis, expect a road win and cover for Milwaukee here.

best bet
Houston Rockets vs San Antonio Spurs, 12 pm
Spurs +6

Houston Rockets

The Rockets enter this one in rather solid form, winning 5 straight games before Friday’s loss in Miami. Unfortunately, Point Guard Chris Paul suffered another hamstring injury and will be out for this one. Shooting Guard James Harden has been phenomenal of late, averaging 39.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 7.4 assists over his last 5. Center Clint Capela has also been solid this season, averaging 17 points and 12 boards of his own. Without Paul, this limited Rockets rotation gets even thinner here and could struggle for a while.

San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs enter this one off an impressive 7th win in their last 8 games, a convincing home victory over Minnesota yesterday. Shooting Guard DeMar DeRozan has led the way for this side, averaging 23.3 points, 6.2 assists, and 5.4 rebounds per contest. Starting Point Guard Bryn Forbes is also in solid form, notching at least 17 in each of his last 2 contests. Finally enjoying a more settled rotation, San Antonio look well in contention for a playoff spot out West.

Prediction: Spurs +6

In my best bet of the day, I have to take the Spurs here. Whilst they’re on a back-to-back, Houston have also had a very difficult travel schedule of late. Given their lack of options, I just don’t see how they overcome the Chris Paul injury. I think 6 points is immense value for the Spurs and see no reason why they can’t claim this outright.

Utah Jazz vs Oklahoma City Thunder, 1 pm
Thunder +1

Utah Jazz

The Jazz enter this one on the second night of a back-to-back, after playing a late one in Portland yesterday. Not many would’ve expected Utah to sport a losing record after their first 33 games, but that’s exactly what has happened. This is despite the relatively impressive seasons of Donovan Mitchell and Ricky Rubio, both of whom have come back where they left off last season. Things don’t get any easier here, as they welcome a hungry OKC team looking for revenge after last season’s playoffs.

Oklahoma City Thunder

OKC enter this one at an impressive 20-10 after winning each of their last 3 games. Small Forward Paul George was excellent last time out in Sacramento, pouring in 43 points, 12 rebounds, and 7 assists. This was complemented nicely by a 20-20 game from Kiwi Center Steven Adams, who added 20 points and 23 boards. Russell Westbrook rounded out the ‘big 3’ with a triple-double, enjoying 19 points, 17 assists, and 11 rebounds. This OKC team appears to be rounding into form nicely and should be a contender come playoff time.

Prediction: Thunder +1

OKC has the significant rest advantage here, having only played once in the past 4 days. This is also their first time back in Utah since their infamous playoff loss earlier this year. I also think OKC is the much more talented team here and will be good for a road win and cover.