NBA Odds, Picks & Projections: Bets for Rockets vs. Cavaliers, Wizards vs. Kings, More (Wednesday, December 15)

NBA Odds, Picks & Projections: Bets for Rockets vs. Cavaliers, Wizards vs. Kings, More (Wednesday, December 15) article feature image
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Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Bradley Beal #3 of the Washington Wizards.

  • NBA analyst Raheem Palmer breaks down his favorite plays on tonight's 11 game slate.
  • He’s betting five of tonight’s games, including Rockets-Cavaliers, and Wizards-Kings.
  • Get his full model projections for the NBA slate, plus his favorite bets, below.

Small outbreaks of Covid are having a big impact on today’s games. As unpredictable as that makes handicapping certain matchups, my model is still showing value in a few spots for Wednesday night.

Here’s what you’ll find in my model: projected team totals, projected combined totals, projected spreads for the matchup and the implied odds for the moneyline.

Note: My projections won’t be updated in real-time throughout the day, but Action’s PRO Projections tool is dynamic and will reflect the latest injury and lineup news.

NBA Projections Model

NBA Odds & Picks

Click on a game to skip ahead
Houston Rockets vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
7 p.m. ET
Miami Heat vs. Philadelphia 76ers
7 p.m. ET
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks
7:30 p.m. ET
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Portland Trailblazers
10 p.m. ET
Washington Wizards vs. Sacramento Kings
10 p.m. ET

Although projections give us a solid baseline for what a number should be, it’s also important to handicap each matchup for things that the numbers can’t tell us.

Check out my analysis for tonight’s 11-game slate.

Houston Rockets at Cleveland Cavaliers 

Pick
Under 217 
Gametime
7 p.m. ET
TV
NBA League Pass

The Cleveland Cavaliers boast the league’s third ranked Defensive Rating, allowing 104.6 points per 100 possessions in their non garbage time minutes, according to Cleaning the Glass.

They’ll take on a Houston Rockets team which is shorthanded missing Eric Gordon, Jalen Green, Daniel House and Kevin Porter. Christian Wood is also questionable for tonight’s matchup with knee tendinitis so this roster is really thin tonight.

Although the Rockets are second in Offensive Rating, scoring 121.9 points per 100 possessions over the last two weeks, there’s only so many players you can lose and perform optimally. Removing Daniel Theis from the lineup has worked wonder for this team but I’m expecting this Rockets team to struggle offensively tonight.

While they’re certainly likely to struggle defensively as well given their 23rd ranked Defensive Rating, I think Cleveland’s defense in conjunction with the injuries for the Rockets, keeps this game under the total.


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Miami Heat at Philadelphia 76ers

Pick
Live Bet the Under
Gametime
7:30 p.m. ET
TV
NBA League Pass

My model makes this game 207 and I personally grabbed the under 208.5 which you may or may not have seen in the Action App this morning.

The Miami Heat are riddled with injuries to Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Markieff Morris, Caleb Martin and potentially Tyler Herro which hurts a Heat offense which just just 17th in half court points/play (93.9).

These are two of the slowest paced teams in the league with the 76ers ranking dead last in pace (95.4) and the Heat ranking 26th (96.2). Both of these teams are below average in Offensive Length of Possession so we’re looking at a slow grind it out game.

While I can’t recommend playing the under at it’s current number given the huge line move, I do recommend looking for a spot in-game to play the under.


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Los Angeles Lakers at Dallas Mavericks

Pick
Lakers -1.5
Gametime
7:30 p.m. ET
TV
ESPN

This is one I gave out on the Buckets podcast and live stream with my colleague Matt Moore on Tuesday night.

The Mavericks will be missing Luka Doncic for the third straight game due to left ankle soreness. While they’ve played well without him in the lineup, this feels like a spot where they’ll miss his scoring and playmaking ability.

Dallas is just 19th in Offensive Rating (109.0) this season, particularly struggling from behind the arc. The Mavs are just 26th in 3-point shooting percentage (33.2%) despite shooting the sixth-highest frequency of 3-point field goal attempts (40.3%).

LeBron James is probable but even without him in the lineup, the Lakers should be able to capitalize on a Mavericks defense that is 21st in opponent field goal percentage at the rim (65.5%). That means Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook should find plenty of success here, especially since Dallas is just 17th in half-court points per play.

Overall, this feels like a perfect spot for a Lakers team to get right as they look to climb up the Western Conference standings.


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Memphis Grizzlies at Portland Trail Blazers

Pick
Grizzlies -1.5
Gametime
10 p.m. ET
TV
NBA League Pass

Here’s another matchup we gave out on the Buckets podcast and live stream and we’ve since seen this line go from Grizzlies +1.5 to Grizzlies -2.

This is a matchup between two teams who are polar opposites as the Memphis Grizzlies have the best defenses in the league over the past two weeks, allowing 98.7 points per 100 possessions in their non garbage time minutes according to Cleaning the Glass.

Without Ja Morant in the lineup, this team has locked down defensively and I think we could see that continued focus here tonight against the Portland Trailblazers who come off a back-to-back loss against the Phoenix Suns,

The Blazers on the other hand struggle to stop anyone, ranking 28th in Defensive Rating (113.1) this season. Even more troubling is the absence of CJ McCollum which has hurt this offense.

Over the past two weeks this team is just 30th in Offensive Rating and while Lillard has missed a few of those games as well, McCollum’s absence can’t be understated.

My model makes the Grizzlies -1.5 point favorites, so I can’t recommend taking the Grizzlies at this current number, but if you can get it at a PK or better, this feels like another great spot to back this team.


Washington Wizards at Sacramento Kings

Pick
Wizards -1.5
Gametime
10 p.m. ET
TV
NBA League Pass

The Sacramento Kings are going to have to prove it to me that they’re worthy of being respected as an NBA team at this point.

They’ve lost three straight games and come off a 124-101 blowout agains the Toronto Raptors and now come home where they’ll host the Washington Wizards who look to bounce back from their 113-107 loss to the Denver Nuggets.

This matchup should be a huge step down in class for the Wizards given the Kings struggles defensively as they’re 27th in Defensive Rating (113.1) in their non garbage time minutes according to Cleaning the Glass.

They particularly struggle protecting the rim as they’re allowing opponents to take the eighth highest frequency of field goal attempts while ranking 17th in opponent field goal percentage at the rim (64.1%), an area where the Wizards have the fourth-highest field goal percentage (67.9%).

This is a Kings team that couldn’t get it done against a short handed Hornets team missing all of their point guards so I like this as a get right spot for the Wizards who come off two losses to the Jazz and Nuggets.


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