NBA Betting Odds, Picks: Our Staff’s Best Bets for Jazz vs. Thunder and Rockets vs. Nuggets (Dec. 28)

NBA Betting Odds, Picks: Our Staff’s Best Bets for Jazz vs. Thunder and Rockets vs. Nuggets (Dec. 28) article feature image
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Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Gary Harris #14 and Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets.

  • Looking to cure that holiday hangover? How about three best bets from our NBA crew?
  • See how they are attacking Monday's five-game slate with on prop bet and two spread bets for tonight's action.

Monday’s NBA slate features just five games, anchored by two national TV games that should rightfully grab much of the attention: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Brooklyn Nets (7:30 p.m. ET)  and Portland Trail Blazers vs. Los Angeles Lakers (10 p.m. ET) on NBA TV.

But with injuries impacting both of those matchups, the value on today’s NBA schedule can be found elsewhere — and our experts have spotted it in the three other Monday games.

They have pinpointed one prop bet, and two spread bets that they love. You can find their analysis on those games below.

NBA Odds & Picks

Click on a game to skip ahead
Pistons vs. Hawks
7:30 p.m. ET
Jazz vs. Thunder
8 p.m. ET
Rockets vs. Nuggets
9 p.m. ET

Pistons vs. Hawks

Pick
Delon Wright Over 10.5 PTS
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Tipoff
7:30 p.m. ET
TV
NBA League Pass

Raheem Palmer: With the additions of Bogdan Bogdanovic, Danilo Gallinari, Rajon Rondo and Kris Dunn the Atlanta Hawks have made some improvements coming into this season. Although they held the Bulls to just 104 points and an offensive rating of 100.1, this is still not a defense that should be looked at as one of the league’s best despite the early season results.

The Hawks are still anchored by Trae Young and while he might be “instant offense”, he’s still dead last out of 520 players in Defensive Real Plus Minus. The Hawks will still be missing their best defenders in Kris Dunn, Clint Capela and Tony Snell. However, without Blake Griffin and Derrick Rose in the lineup, this matchup against the Detroit Pistons doesn’t particularly lend itself to a spot where we can truly capitalize on it.

Unless you put up an anomaly of a shooting performance like the Los Angeles Clippers in their Sunday afternoon matchup against the Dallas Mavericks in which they shot 9-of-37 from the field in the first half (24.3%) and 34.2% for the game, someone has to and will likely replace their scoring output.

In this case, point guard Delon Wright appears to be the biggest beneficiary. While he played just 19 minutes in their opening night matchup against the Minnesota Timberwolves, he played 42 minutes in their double overtime loss against the Cleveland Cavaliers, scoring 19 points on 5-of-9 shooting.

We’re likely to see his minutes, usage rate, shots and subsequently points increase given the absence of Derrick Rose. With rookie Killian Hayes still finding his footing, I like Delon Wright to go over his point total of 10.5 and would play this up to 12.

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Jazz vs. Thunder

Pick
Jazz -8.5
Bet Now
Tipoff
8 p.m. ET
TV
NBA League Pass

Joe Dellera: The Oklahoma City Thunder look to start the season strong against their divisional opponent, the Utah Jazz, and avoid their first loss of the season in their home opener. However, after squeaking out a win in Charlotte, this will be a much tougher task for the Thunder.

Both of the Thunder and the Jazz have shot poorly this season, and are ranked 24th (51.1%) and 26th (50.6%) in eFG% respectively, per Cleaning the Glass. However, both teams would have top-five marks if they shot league average on those attempts. This is obviously a small sample size, but it can show some trends.

On the opposite side of the ball, both teams are ranked in the top-four in defensive eFG%; however, while the Jazz remain ranked fifth in expected defensive eFG%, the Thunder tumble down to 29th, per Cleaning the Glass.

Why are the Thunder getting lit up in this category? Because of a lack of interior presence. Their big men are Al Horford, Darius Bazley, and Mike Muscala. Without Steven Adams, they’ve lost that toughness on the interior.

While Horford is an adequate replacement, Adams was an elite rebounder. Over the past four seasons, Horford has rebounded about 12.3% of all rebounds available while he was on the floor (TRB%), per Basketball Reference.

Contrast this with Steven Adams who has a TRB% of 15.8% over the past four seasons. This isn’t a huge difference, but when you’re facing Rudy Gobert, one of the best rebounders in basketball, and his 20.7% TRB% over the past four years, those small edges add up.

I expect Utah to control the glass and the interior here and limit the Thunder’s second chance opportunities. Additionally, I think the Thunder will come crashing down a bit on the defensive side of the ball as they give up too many looks at the rim.

The Jazz are an expected playoff team against the Thunder who have traded away franchise cornerstones and are fairly limited beyond Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. I’ll lay the points and back the Jazz.

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Rockets vs. Nuggets

Pick
Nuggets -6.5
Bet Now
Tipoff
9 p.m. ET
TV
NBA League Pass

Brandon Anderson: The Nuggets and Rockets both made nice playoff runs just a few months ago before they were each eliminated by the Lakers, but neither team has won a game yet in the new season.

We know a lot about the Nuggets already. This is the Nuggets team we saw do so well in the bubble, for the most part. Jerami Grant is gone, and that will matter more in certain matchups like it did against the Clippers, and he’d no doubt get some turns on James Harden here.

But the Nuggets are basically healthy, which means Gary Harris and Will Barton are healthier now than they were last season, and they’re getting bigger contributions now from Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. Their roster is as deep and talented as any in the West, for the regular season at least.

We know precious little about this version of the Rockets, on the other hand. James Harden is back, for now. I had my doubts on whether we’d ever see him in a Houston uniform again, but he was spectacular in the opener. We’ll see how his motivation holds up after making that statement.

The rest of the Rockets roster is a mess. Christian Wood is there and should be good again, but Houston is still missing John Wall, Boogie Cousins, Eric Gordon, and Ben McLemore for COVID protocols. That’s something approaching half of this team’s minutes any given night, and it basically means Harden has to do everything.

He’s good enough to do that, if he’s healthy, fit and motivated — and if the shots are falling. All four of those things are a question for me right now, and Denver is a better team than Portland on both ends. The Nuggets are also quite deep and should roll Houston in the non-Harden minutes.

I’m not going to overthink this one. The Nuggets are healthy and one of the best teams in the NBA. Houston is some version of Harden and a cast of guys that shouldn’t be getting this big of minutes or roles.

Denver can’t fall to 0-3. They’ll be ready for a Houston team that has typically been a bugaboo for them but isn’t the same right now. I’ll play the Nuggets to -7.5.

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