Friday, December 13

Detroit Pistons vs Dallas Mavericks, 1 pm
Pistons +5.5

This game will be played on a neutral court in Mexico City.

The Pistons have had a mediocre start to the season, just outside the East playoff places with a 10-14 record. Dallas have been one of the surprise packages in the league thus far, 3rd in the West at 16-7. Detroit have opened as 5.5-point underdogs on this neutral court and I’m inclined to take them here.

The altitude is typically a huge factor in Mexico City and I think this will somewhat negate Dallas’ talent advantage. This should make for a slower-paced game, which suits the interior-focused Pistons much more.

I think Detroit has a pretty noticeable edge in the frontcourt here, with Blake and Drummond against Porzingis and Powell. They should be able to win the rebounding battle and protect the rim against Luka.

I also like the production they’ve been getting from their backcourt, with Rose and Galloway providing excellent bench minutes. They’ve probably got the edge over Dallas’ second unit, which could come in handy given the altitude.

While this team tends to struggle on offence, the matchups are really in their favour here. They’ve also got some solid wing bodies to help contain Luka, which is why I can see this one being fairly close.

Games in Mexico City tend to be unpredictable and I often like to take the underdogs there. Especially over the key number of 5, the Pistons are very live dogs in this one.

Denver Nuggets vs Portland Trail Blazers, 2:30 pm
Nuggets -6

The Nuggets have been solid but unspectacular so far, sitting 5th in the West at 14-8. Portland have been a major disappointment, improving slightly to 11th place at 10-15. Denver open as 6-point home favourites here and I’m inclined to back them.

I especially like the revenge angle here, given what happened in the playoffs. Denver is a very tough place to play and they’re a solid 8-3 at home thus far.

While it isn’t an ideal travel spot, they should be motivated to return to form after 3 straight defeats. They match up very well with this Portland side, specifically on the interior.

I love their matchup in the frontcourt, with Jokic and Millsap likely to bully the duo of Carmelo and Whiteside. Portland are also incredibly weak on the wing, which negates what is typically one of Denver’s biggest weaknesses.

They enter this one relatively healthy, especially as Jamal Murray looks very likely to play. Portland have definitely gone through the ringer from a health standpoint, with starters in Collins and Hood both out indefinitely.

Overall, this is a high-profile spot where Denver can right the wrong from game 7 in the Conference Semis. I like the edge their frontcourt has here and I expect it to propel them to a win and cover.