NBA Best Bets Tonight: Expert Picks & Predictions (Tuesday, Dec. 12)

NBA Best Bets Tonight: Expert Picks & Predictions (Tuesday, Dec. 12) article feature image
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Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Devin Booker and Kevin Durant.

NBA Best Bets Today | Tuesday, Dec. 12

GameTime (ET)Pick
7:30 p.m.
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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.

There are only five games on the NBA schedule today, but that hasn't stopped our NBA analysts from finding loads of value across the board. The main event tonight is Warriors vs. Suns in what was supposed to be the debut of the Suns' Big 3, but while Bradley Beal will return, Kevin Durant was ruled out.

We have at least one pick on all five games tonight, so continue reading below for our NBA best bets today, including NBA expert picks for Tuesday, December 12.

Cavaliers vs. Celtics

Tuesday, Dec. 12
7:30 p.m. ET
NBA League Pass
Jayson Tatum Over 25.5 Points

By Joe Dellera

The Celtics are facing the Cavaliers, who are on the second night of a back-to-back. The Cavaliers were without one of their defensive anchors, Evan Mobley, due to left knee soreness, and even if he does return today, this is an exploitable matchup for Tatum.

Tatum is averaging 27.5 points per game this season and has exceeded this line in 57% of his games this season. Additionally, Tatum should come out firing with the extra rest considering the last time he played was on Friday night against the Knicks. Over the last two seasons, when Tatum has had three days of rest he’s cleared this line in five of seven games.

Stylistically, Tatum’s ability to stretch the floor while also being able to put pressure on the rim will make it difficult for the Cavaliers to stop him at any level of attack.

Pick: Jayson Tatum Over 25.5 Points

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Cavaliers vs. Celtics

Tuesday, Dec. 12
7:30 p.m. ET
NBA League Pass
Cavaliers +10.5

By Chris Baker

The Cavs are on a back-to-back and Evan Mobley may be out, but I can’t get to this number for the Celtics as a favorite.

When adjusting for schedule strength, dunksandthrees has the Celtics ranked first at +8.5 and the Cavs ranked eighth at +2.4. So roughly a six-point disparity, and home court and back-to-back is not worth 4.5 points to me.

I'm a bit higher on this Cavs team and I think that they will compete here. If Mobley plays that would be a huge plus, but even if he can’t go I expect the Cavs to compete throughout this game.

Pick: Cavaliers +10.5



Lakers vs. Mavericks

Tuesday, Dec. 12
7:30 p.m. ET
TNT
Under 234 or Better

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By Bryan Fonseca

I went to bed thinking Lakers -1.5 felt almost suspiciously obvious, and woke up with that confirmation.

It seems like the Lakers should win this going away with a two days rest advantage off the high of an NBA Cup title. But why isn't it?

The Mavericks just won last night in Memphis, 120-113, and are going back home to Texas where they will possibly be without Kyrie Irving, Grant Williams, Maxi Kleber, Josh Green and Tim Hardaway Jr. again.

But the Lakers only have a -6.3 margin of victory with rest advantage (1-2 straight up) this season. They also have a -3.8 MOV with 2-3 days off. Dallas is +1.5 MOV (2-2) & +1.1 ATS with no days off.

This feels more like a spot for the offenses to struggle.

Pick: Under 234



Nuggets vs. Bulls

Tuesday, Dec. 12
8 p.m. ET
NBA League Pass
Nikola Jokic Over 9.5 Assists

By Joe Dellera

The Nuggets are on a back-to-back and it’s likely that Jamal Murray sits given his injury history. One player that has risen to the challenge and the increased usage is Nikola Jokic.

In games without Murray this season, Jokic sees his stats rise across the board with 29.6 points, 13.0 rebounds, and 10.5 assists per game. These numbers are partially skewed simply due to monster games in those individual stats, but the output has been tremendous.

I’d like to target his assists in this matchup against Nikola Vucevic. Over the last three seasons, Jokic is averaging a triple-double against Vucevic in four matchups. The scoring is down, but he has grabbed 11.5 rebounds and dished 11.5 assists per game.

Vucevic is not the best defender, but he disrupts Jokic enough as a scoring threat that he can distribute to the rest of his teammates. Couple that with Murray potentially missing, and this sets up for a good opportunity for Jokic to dime.

Pick: Nikola Jokic Over 9.5 Assists

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Nuggets vs. Bulls

Tuesday, Dec. 12
8 p.m. ET
NBA League Pass
Bulls +7.5

By Matt Moore

The Nuggets are on a back-to-back. Jamal Murray, who missed three weeks in November with a sore hamstring, tweaked his ankle against the Hawks. He finished the game, but the Nuggets will likely be conservative with his minutes.

Nikola Jokic will play; Chicago has a huge Serbia population and he will want to be available for them. But Aaron Gordon or Kentavious Caldwell-Pope may miss this one. Meanwhile, Denver is 15-24 (39%) ATS on the road with Jokic since the beginning of last season.

Chicago went to OT last night, but in the last three seasons is 5-3-1 ATS at home on back-to-backs. That's not a meaningful sample, but the fact that they aren't underperforming in those situations is a small signal. Chicago this season is 3-1-1 ATS as a home dog. I make this number 4, and the market has already moved towards Chicago from the 8.5 open.

Denver's not a good road team. I like Chicago without Zach LaVine, better than I would with him.

Pick: Bulls +7.5

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Warriors vs. Suns

Tuesday, Dec. 12
10 p.m. ET
TNT
Suns -3

Editor's note: Bradley Beal will return for the Suns tonight, but Kevin Durant has been ruled out.

By Joe Dellera

The Suns' Big 3 hopefully returns for a matchup against the Golden State Warriors tonight, but this should be an exciting game regardless.

The Warriors' big issue this season has been finding continuity with their primary rotation players. Stephen Curry (-2.0), Klay Thompson (-5.6), Kevon Looney (-5.9), Draymond Green (-7.5) and Andrew Wiggins (-14.6) all have negative Net Ratings on the season and the team is just 18th in Net Rating overall.

On the flip side, Phoenix has been dominant with its stars on the floor. Devin Booker (+14.0), Jusuf Nurkic (+11.2) and Kevin Durant (+8.3) are all smashing this season, and with the addition of Bradley Beal, this offense should only get more potent.

I’m comfortable laying the 3 points with the Suns at home regardless, but if Durant is formally ruled in I’ll be glad to have grabbed the Suns as one-possession favorites.

Pick: Suns -3



Kings vs. Clippers

Tuesday, Dec. 12
10:30 p.m. ET
NBA League Pass
Paul George Over 3.5 Assists

By Joe Dellera

Paul George has been excellent this season as an all-around contributor. One of the areas he has excelled in is as a facilitator.

While James Harden and Russell Westbrook are often looked at as the primary passing options for this Clippers team, George has slotted himself between them over the last 10 games in actual and potential assists per game at 4.7 and 8.9, respectively.

The Clippers play the Kings tonight in what is a paced-up spot for the Clippers, so there should be plenty of opportunities for assists against a Kings team that is bottom 10 in Adjusted Defensive Rating.

Pick: Paul George Over 3.5 Assists

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