Grizzlies Over Celtics and Tuesday’s NBA Predictions

by Kevin Roberts
on December 27, 2016

The NBA has been pretty wild lately, as Friday gave way to a jam-packed 14-game night, we got some stellar action on Christmas Day and the league stormed back with 11 games on Monday.

Things are finally quiet again on Tuesday, as just four pro basketball games grace the schedule and they just might be obvious enough for us to win some safe cash.

Of course, as is always the case with NBA betting, we’ll want to take a closer look and see if there is anything we’ll want to consider before throwing down any big bets. Let’s dive into all four games as we come away with Tuesday’s NBA picks:

Memphis Grizzlies (+6.5)
VS
Boston Celtics (-6.5)
Total: 198.5

Memphis head to Boston to take on the Celtics just seven days after dropping an intense double overtime battle to them at home. Isaiah Thomas will shoot for an encore performance, after dropping 44 points on what is usually an elite Memphis defense.

The Grizzlies surely won’t want to get swept here, while they’ll also want to pay Boston back for making their defense look below average. Of course, that could be easier said than done for several reasons. For one, Memphis again looked to be slipping just last night, when they got beat by a far inferior Magic squad in Orlando.

Even worse, it’s possible Memphis sits some of their key players on the second night of a back-to-back set. Mike Conley, Marc Gasol and Chandler Parsons are all the prime candidates, although it’s worth wondering if Memphis can afford to sit their top players during a 10-game stretch where they’ve gone a middling 5-5.

At full strength, the Grizzlies can handle the Celtics. Memphis boasts an elite defense (allowing just 97.7 points per game), they’re a solid 8-6 on the road and they had Boston on the brink several times in their first meeting.

Boston has an argument on their side, too. They’re younger and quicker than the Grizzlies, they pack a serious offensive punch and they also have the wing defenders to help keep Conley in check. Boston doesn’t really have answer for Gasol, however, and they’re an average 6-6 on their home floor.

As long as Memphis plays their studs – tired or not – it’s really hard to look past this rich spread going against them. That makes them fun underdogs and we’ll give them a shot at pulling off the upset. Besides, Isaiah Thomas isn’t pouring in 44 points again. Right?

Pick

Grizzlies
102
Celtics
99
Oklahoma City Thunder (-3.5)
VS
Miami Heat (+3.5)
Total: 207

The big NBA star to watch tonight will be none other than Russell Westbrook, who continues his triple-double run into South Beach tonight. Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside await, but the Heat could be in trouble with a sluggish offense and weak 5-11 home record backing them.

The one thing Miami has going for them is health, as Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson are finally back to full strength. The one-two punch of Dragic and Whiteside can also be deadly, but OKC has fended it off in two straight wins, while the Thunder have emerged victorious in four of the last five meetings.

Miami has a shot here if they can slow the pace and grind things out defensively, but they haven’t been playing their best ball (3-7 over their last 10 games) lately. The same isn’t the case for the Thunder, as Westbrook has been ridiculously hot (42+ points scored in three of his last four games) during a three-game winning streak for the Thunder.

OKC has pulled back into first place atop the Northwest Division and with a 6-4 run during their last 10 contests, figure to be back on the right track. Oklahoma City is a solid 7-4 on the road, has the best player in this game and can freely dictate pace. Not having defensive ace Victor Oladipo could limit them a bit, but they’ve been mostly fine without him.

Suffice to say, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to defy Vegas here. OKC looks like the pick and they should cover.

Pick

Thunder
106
Heat
102
Houston Rockets (-6.5)
VS
Dallas Mavericks (+6.5)
Total: 212

James Harden hasn’t been quite as scorching hot as Westbrook, but he’s still been delivering for a Rockets team that has won 8 of it’s last 10 games. Houston was even hotter before that, as they had ripped off 10 straight wins not too long ago, before falling at home to the Spurs.

Houston will take things to the road tonight, as they put a stellar 12-6 road record on the line against a struggling 9-22 Dallas team. The Mavs have had veteran scorer Dirk Nowitzki back over their last two games, but it’s likely he sits out tonight in the second game of a back-to-back set. Even if Dirk suits up, the German star will surely be limited.

Dallas has really struggled inside the Southwest Division (1-7) and they’re just average over their last 10 games (5-5). That’s improvement after an awful 4-17 start, but going up against the 23-9 Rockets could be a serious problem. Dallas is shorthanded any way you look at it, as J.J. Barea and Andrew Bogut remain out, while their home record (6-8) isn’t exactly blistering.

This also goes down as the fourth and final meeting for the 2016-17 NBA series between these two squads – one in which the Rockets have dominated in a 3-0 run. That only adds to a series that Houston had been on top of before that, having secured wins in six of the last nine meetings.

Dallas could use their home court edge to fight back in this one, but the odds don’t support them against a superior team that really doesn’t have much trouble enforcing their will on the road. Even if Dirk plays, we like the Rockets to win and cover.

Pick

Rockets
109
Mavs
102
Utah Jazz (-5)
VS
Los Angeles Lakers (+5)
Total: 204

The last game of the night should arguable boast the largest spread, but for one reason or another Vegas thinks the Lakers will stay close with the Jazz at home.

Utah is still the clear favorite, even though they’ve dropped three straight and continue to be banged up with George Hill, Alec Burks and Dante Exum all still sidelined:

Derrick Favors is also still limited, so while the Jazz continue to exhibit elite defense (still giving up just 95 points per game), their offense has suffered, overall.

The silver lining for the Jazz is they’re well accustomed to the road this season and sport a solid 8-6 road record. They’re also used to taking down the Lakers, as they already own a 2-0 series advantage on this young season and have won 7 of the last 9 meetings. Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert still fuel a balanced attack that can grind you to sleep defensively and also isn’t afraid to attack the paint on the other end.

L.A. has two things going for them going into tonight; they’re at home and they have more scoring upside. The latter might not matter against a disciplined defensive team like the Jazz, but perhaps being at the Staples Center, where they’re 7-7, could make a difference.

Los Angeles certainly hasn’t been at their best lately, of course, as they’ve gone just 2-8 over their last 10 games and defensively are abhorrent (giving up over 110 points per game). The Lakers have kept things fairly close with Utah in both meetings this year, but everything on paper adds up to a perfect spot for the Jazz to snap a three-game skid. Look for Utah to win and cover tonight in Los Angeles.

Pick

Jazz
104
Lakers
97
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