NBA Best Bets Today | Expert Picks for Thursday Dec. 21

NBA Best Bets Today | Expert Picks for Thursday Dec. 21 article feature image

Via Chris Graythen/Getty Images. Pictured: Ja Morant #12 of the Memphis Grizzlies warms up prior to playing the New Orleans Pelicans at Smoothie King Center on December 19, 2023 in New Orleans, Louisiana.

The NBA regular season continues on Thursday night with an eight-game slate, and our NBA betting experts are ready with four best bets. They have totals, spread bets and player prop picks among their best bets for Thursday, including two picks for Pacers vs. Grizzlies. Find their best NBA bets for Thursday below.

NBA Best Bets

The team logos in the table below represent each of the matchups that our NBA betting staff is targeting from today's slate of games. Click on the team logos for any of the matchups below to navigate to a specific bet discussed in this article.

GameTime (ET)Pick
8 p.m.
8 p.m.
8 p.m.
8 p.m.
Specific betting recommendations come from the sportsbook offering preferred odds as of writing. Always shop for the best price using our NBA Odds page, which automatically surfaces the best lines for every game.

Spurs vs. Bulls

Thursday, Dec. 21
8 p.m. ET
NBA League Pass
Bulls 3Q -1.5

By Jim Turvey

This is a game in which I am targeting the Bulls because they have quietly turned things around of late. They've won seven of their last 10 games, and since Zach LaVine went down to injury, they have the ninth-best Net Rating in the league at +4.6.

In that same time frame, the Spurs have a -8.8 Net Rating, so unless something crazy comes out on the Bulls injury report, the full game line of -4.5 is well worth it too, even with the Spurs in a solid rest advantage.

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I want to target the third quarter for now because I'll like this regardless of the injury report. The Spurs have been terrible in third quarters this season, sporting a miserable 5-19-2 record against the spread in the third this season. On the flip side, the Bulls have been slow starters (-9.3 First-half Net Rating), but they really take off in the third quarter and are 17-12-0 ATS in the third quarter this season.

You can get this line at plus money right now at Caesars, but this is the type of bet that is very difficult for the books to adjust to, so there will almost certainly be value whenever you get to it.

Pick: Bulls 3Q -1.5

Pacers vs. Grizzlies

Thursday, Dec. 21
8 p.m. ET
NBA League Pass
Over 245.5

By Chris Baker

I will be looking to bet Grizzlies overs with Ja Morant returning to the lineup as his boost to their offensive efficiency and pace will be absolutely massive. This Grizzlies team is actually loaded with capable catch and shoot 3-point spacers, but they have asked these players to create off the dribble all season, which has resulted in them ranking 29th in Offensive Rating and Effective Field Goal Percentage.

Their shot profile has actually been strong as they rank 13th in Location Effective Field Goal Percentage and are getting up the fifth-most 3-pointers in the league. Morant is exactly what this team was missing in terms of his ability to get to the rim and force teams into rotations to shooters. With Morant on the floor on Tuesday, the Grizzlies had an Offensive Rating of 125.0.

This Grizzlies team was poised for positive shooting regression, and with the addition of Morant, I think we begin to see the Grizzlies look like a top-15 offense. For the Pacers, they rank first in Adjusted Offensive Rating, 30th in Adjusted Defensive Rating and first in Pace, according to

They’ve played the fifth-easiest schedule of opposing offenses and still rank dead last in Defensive Rating. The Pacers also rank dead last in Opponent Rim Rate Allowed, so this sets up favorably for Morant to continue to dominate.

Indiana is 28th in Defensive Rebound Rate, so expect Bismack Biyombo and Jaren Jackson Jr. to generate some second chances. This is the perfect spot for Morant and the Grizzlies to play with energy and pace, and this total should be closer to 250, so I will grab the 245.5.

Pick: Over 245.5

Clippers vs. Thunder

Thursday, Dec. 21
8 p.m. ET
NBA League Pass
Thunder -4

By Bryan Fonseca

I'm a general Clippers skeptic, both historically as an organization and presently with their current core.

James Harden is in his new-toy phase where everything is awesome until it eventually falls apart later in the year, and I have to be the jerk to remind you that it's the same script in a new city. I don't trust the Clippers’ long-term health, and I don't trust them in this spot against the Thunder to accumulate a 10th straight victory.

Of the Clippers' nine consecutive victories, this is their first set of road back-to-back games since going on this tear. They just beat the Mavericks last night in Texas, 120-111, and the Thunder haven't played since Monday, giving OKC a two-day rest advantage. In fact, this will be the Thunder's eighth game this month, whereas it’s the Clippers' 10th.

I think OKC wins and covers, and the revenge of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander lives on after he was dealt from LA in the Paul George trade.

Pick: Thunder -4

Pacers vs. Grizzlies

Thursday, Dec. 21
8 p.m. ET
NBA League Pass
Ja Morant Over 44.5 Points + Rebounds + Assists (-113)

By Alex Hinton

After serving a 25-game suspension, Ja Morant announced his return to the league in a big way. On Tuesday night, Morant scored 34 points, including the game-winning basket as time expired to give his Grizzlies an outright victory as seven-point underdogs against the Pelicans. He also grabbed six rebounds and dished out eight assists to finish with 48 points, rebounds and assists combined.

With a game under his belt, I had Indiana circled as the matchup to back Morant. Head coach Taylor Jenkins did not have a specific minute restriction for Morant, and he basically had a normal workload playing 35 minutes. While he was winded at times, Morant's conditioning should be less of a factor in game two for him.

Indiana plays at the fastest pace in the league, and as one of the fastest players in the league himself, Morant will thrive at that tempo. Additionally, despite the presence of one of the league's best shot blockers in Myles Turner, Indiana is allowing the most points in the paint (63.1) per game. That means Morant should be able to get downhill and score in the paint with ease.

The Pacers are 28th in Defensive Rating, and tonight they are playing on the second leg of back-to-back games with travel. Fortunately, the Pacers pulled away from the Hornets last night and rested their starters in the fourth quarter. I do not expect a blowout here, and consequently, Morant should play his full set of minutes.

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If that is the case, he will crush this matchup. In his last game against the Pacers, Morant had a triple-double with 27 points, 10 rebounds, and 15 assists for 52 PRA combined in 42 minutes. Grizzlies center Steven Adams did not play in that game and remains out for the season.

Morant is averaging seven rebounds per game when playing 30+ minutes without Adams since the start of last season. With that in mind, it is worth sprinkling on Morant to get a triple-double at +900 on DraftKings.

Pick: Ja Morant Over 44.5 Points + Rebounds + Assists (-113)

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