Finish off your week with our best picks on a fantastic Friday in the NBA. The Celtics crushed the Pistons hearts in OT Thursday night. How much do they have in the tank for Toronto? The Hawks continue to be the best bet at Michigan sportbooks – against the spread, while the Grizzlies and Clippers face off with injury concerns on both sides.
NBA Expert Picks and Best Bets | December 29
Toronto Raptors at Boston Celtics Best Bet
Down by 21, the Boston Celtics rallied to beat the Detroit Pistons Thursday night in overtime, handing the Pistons an NBA record 28th straight loss. Credit the Pistons for playing hard, but Boston made plays down the stretch.
It’s always hard to read how a team will play in back-to-back nights, but the Celtics have to be emotionally drained after the win, setting things up for the Raptors to win and definitely cover.
Toronto is only 12-18 and coming off its biggest win of the season (by margin) 30 points over the Wizards. Scottie Barnes has been hot for the Raptors. He had 20 against the Wizards and 32 in a loss to the Jazz.
The Celtics have won four in a row, and beat the Raptors by 23 and three points in November. Derrick White is giving them good minutes, but this is a big ask for Boston. Take the points.
Sacramento Kings at Atlanta Hawks Best Bet
Wild point spread here with the Kings getting a half point at BetMGM. Other books have it with the Hawks getting a point.
Atlanta remains the biggest enigma in Michigan sportsbooks. They are 7-23 against the spread and 2-13 in their last 15 games against the line. It’s odd because they’re basically a middle class NBA team. They’re 12-18 overall with two quality stars: Trae Young who scores 28 a game and Dejounte Murray. They average 122.3 a night (free advice – take the over here too).
Sacramento is one of the best teams in the West, but has lost three of their last four. They haven’t played since Tuesday though, giving them time to rest. Atlanta has won last four games over the Kings, but that won’t happen tonight. Take the Kings wherever you can.
Memphis Grizzlies at LA Clippers Best Bet
Ja Morant came, saw, hooped…and left? After serving his 25-game suspension, Morant returned to lead the Grizzlies to four wins and averaged 28.8 points. Then he sat out because of an illness in Denver and the Grizzlies got rocked by the Nuggets.
As of early Friday morning, Morant was still questionable with an illness. But even with Morant, the Grizzlies aren’t a great team. They rank last in the NBA in scoring.
Everyone had some laughs when the Clippers brought in James Harden and it didn’t immediately work, well, no one is laughing now. The Clips are 18-12 and just had a nine-game win streak. They have an injury issue going on right now too though as Kawhi Leonard has been out with a hip bruise.
Take Morant off the Griz and the Clippers are clearly better. No Morant and No Leonard and the Clippers are still better.
Born and raised in Louisiana, Darren Cooper has a fond appreciation for bayous, Mardi Gras beads and the sports betting industry. Darren has worked for multiple print and online publications since 1998, primarily as a sports columnist in the Northeast. He’s covered a Super Bowl (it was a blowout), the World Series (same) and the NBA Draft (man, those guys are tall). For the last few years he’s dug deep into the sports gambling industry as it exploded across America, learning how the legal sausage is made and how while all the sportsbooks look the same, they all have different identities and styles. He’s learned to always bet within his means -- and take the under. When not in front of his computer creating, Darren spends time with his three boys. He runs, reads and is always looking for the next big thing to write about.