Happy Holidays everyone! I hope this column and today’s picks find everyone enjoying a nice day with family and friends, and of course a full slate of NBA action. As is tradition in the Association, the day is absolutely packed with marquee names and the most compelling, if not always the best (hello, why are the Spurs not playing?) teams taking the court.
Both Los Angeles teams are in action, the streaking Clippers and the (perhaps) getting-it-together Lakers. The biggest media markets and traditional powers will be in action as well; Boston, New York, Chicago and Dallas. But the real show-stopper is the Finals rematch, the Thunder and the Heat.
We’ll take a look at that matchup in Miami, as well as throwing in a few bonus picks to keep the stockings stuffed for Christmas. It’s been a good Holiday for me, hitting on my last ten picks ATS – so let’s see if we can hammer out yet another winning day…
Oklahoma City Thunder at Miami Heat -2.5 (Total: 193)
The marquee matchup of the day takes place at 5:30 EST on ABC, and it should be an awesome game. The Heat have won their last four games against the Thunder, but there is a good chance you already knew that since all four came in last year’s NBA Finals. The Heat eliminated James Harden in that series, and despite Kevin Durant’s fantastic play, Lebron owned the series and the Heat cruised to a relatively easy title.
The Thunder have seemed motivated by last year’s experience, and have been fantastic this season, posting the best record in the league at 21-5. You can bet they will be motivated to play today and eager to show they have grown since last year’s Finals embarrassment.
However, the Heat LIVE for games like these. Sure, they may no-show once in a while in a road game in Washington, but you can expect them to come out intense and ready to play on Christmas. The Heat are 13-2 at home this season, and I don’t see them coming out flat today. Give me the Heat laying just 2 ½.
Free Pick: Miami Heat -2.5
New York Knicks at Los Angeles Lakers -4
The early game (3pm EST) is one of the most interesting games of the day, Kobe and the Lakers take on the red-hot New York Knicks. The Lakers have had their share of struggles this season, but they are at home and are finally at full strength. Steve Nash helped spark a huge road comeback over Golden State in his first game back.
There are no numbers and stats that can justify the pick, so let’s just call it a gut-feel. I like Kobe on Christmas day, and I like the Lakers getting on a roll, starting today at home.
Free Pick: Los Angeles Lakers -4
Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Clippers -7
For my final pick, let’s go with one more home team, and there’s been no better bet in pro sports the last three weeks than the LA Clippers. They have won 13 straight games and have favorable matchup tonight. The Denver Nuggets are just 7-12 on the road, while LA is 9-3 at home and hasn’t lost a game in December.
The Clippers have been laying five to eight for most of their win streak, and keep covering. In fact, they have covered in eight of their last ten games. I like them to keep it up tonight.
Free Pick: Los Angeles Clippers -7