Monday 28th December
The final pick I made last week missed out by a couple of points as the New York Knicks failed to stay within the points, but it still meant back to back winning weeks.
That has improved the monthly numbers and hopefully the last four days go the same way.
LA Lakers @ Charlotte Hornets Pick: Asking certain teams to cover big spreads can be problematic, but the LA Lakers do look like one of the worst teams in the NBA. The Charlotte Hornets are amongst some of the better teams in the Eastern Conference and Al Jefferson's return only bolsters their line up.
The Hornets haven't been in great form of late, but they did beat the Memphis Grizzlies last time out although that is only the second win in seven games for Charlotte.
Charlotte have also been much better at home when it comes to the Defensive side of the court and that can help them find a way to cruise past the Lakers. A bigger problem for the road team is they might have to do without Kobe Bryant for this game, or at least have him in limited minutes, and many of their games have ended in one sided losses as the talent level is just not up to par.
The Lakers are 0-3 against the spread in games where they are set as the road underdog of between 12.5 and 18 points this season. They are also 2-8 against the spread when facing a team with a winning record on the road and I think Charlotte can cover a big number.
Philadelphia 76ers @ Utah Jazz Pick: The Philadelphia 76ers finally won a road game last time out against the Phoenix Suns but they are still considered a big road underdog in their visit to the Utah Jazz.
However, I think the 76ers can be backed again especially if Derrick Favors is sitting for the Jazz and I am not sure Utah deserve to be asked to cover this many points.
The Jazz did blow out Philadelphia earlier this season and two of their last three home games against the 76ers would have seen them cover this spread. However, Utah have just two wins in their last eight which will have sapped some confidence from their play and they have just been struggling with their scoring of late.
Double digits look tough to cover for Utah and I will back the 76ers with the points.
Sacramento Kings @ Golden State Warriors Pick: It is rare that the Sacramento Kings are being given as many points as this on the road, but the situation suggests it might not be enough. The Kings are 2-0 against the spread in the last three seasons when given between 12.5 and 15 points on the road, but they are facing a team that has dominated them.
The Golden State Warriors will play for the first time since Christmas Day and they are a team that are used to these big spreads. They are 11-7 against the spread as the home favourite of between 12.5 and 15 points over the last couple of seasons including going 2-0 this season.
The Warriors have also beaten the Sacramento Kings by at least nineteen points per game in their last four home games against them. With the scoring power they have and Sacramento on a back to back, I have to think Golden State can get unplugged in this one and win going away.
I do think the Kings are a solid line up that will give Golden State some problems, but I fully expect the Warriors to come through and win this by a wide, wide margin.
Tuesday 29th December
The Charlotte Hornets barely failed to cover in their win over the LA Lakers, but it wasn't looking a great day with the 76ers in the process of a blow out in the first half. However Philadelphia rallied while the Golden State Warriors showed they are going to be incredibly tough to beat this season by destroying the Sacramento Kings in the second half to record another big home win against them.
That has brought the week up in a positive manner and continues what has been a solid couple of weeks at the end of December.
Detroit Pistons @ New York Knicks Pick: Both the New York Knicks and the Detroit Pistons are coming off disappointing losses to the Boston Celtics as they get ready to meet at Madison Square Garden. Both teams are looking to snap their losing runs and I am favouring the Detroit Pistons to get the job done and win here as the road favourite.
There seems to be a lot more consistent scoring on the Detroit side of the court and I think that is a big difference maker in this game. New York know Carmelo Anthony will get his numbers but Kristaps Porzingis has had an inconsistent month as he has hit something like a rookie wall.
It hasn't helped the Knicks who have just had a difficult time at both ends of the court during their four game losing run. The Knicks are also just 5-10 against the spread as the small home underdog of three points or fewer over the last couple of years.
Detroit don't have a great record at Madison Square Garden, but they have won their last couple of games here and I think they can cover here with the additional scoring they have through their rotation compared with New York.
Atlanta Hawks @ Houston Rockets Pick: There was some anger in Houston after the Rockets failed to back up their win over the San Antonio Spurs by losing to the New Orleans Pelicans. The inconsistencies in Houston have been a cause for concern all season and JB Bickerstaff didn't hold back from his assessment of how badly the Rockets need to get their winning mentality back.
Houston have to stay focused on the Atlanta Hawks despite the fact they are hosting the Golden State Warriors before the end of the calendar year. The Hawks might have seen their six game winning run come to an end on Monday and they are just 3-5 against the spread when playing on back to back nights this season.
Despite the loss to the Pelicans, there have been improvements Defensively from the Rockets which has shown up in recent games and I think they are going to be too good for a tired Atlanta team. The Hawks can put everything into this game knowing they won't be scheduled to play another game until next week, but Houston are 1-0 against the spread when favoured by three points or fewer at home.
The Hawks have struggled in Houston going 4-11-1 against the spread in their last sixteen games here. I like the Rockets to at least respond to Bickerstaff's disappointment from the last game and will back them to cover.
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Denver Nuggets Pick: The Cleveland Cavaliers might have snapped their two game losing run but they are on a back to back and have struggled to a 1-4 record against the spread in those games. Kyrie Irving will be rested in this game, but the Cavaliers are far healthier than the Denver Nuggets and I think they can win this game and cover.
Denver have lost five of their last six games and will be missing Danilo Gallinari and Emmanuel Mudiay on Tuesday.
The Nuggets have struggled mightily from a Defensive standpoint and they will be tested by Cleveland who look better on both ends of the court. The poor record on back to back games has to be a concern for Cleveland backers, but they should be the stronger team on the court.
Cleveland are 4-0 against the spread in their last four games in Denver and I like them to cover in this one.
Wednesday 30 December
It hasn't happened to me often so far this season, but the way the Houston Rockets collapsed in the second half of their loss to the Atlanta Hawks, who were on a back to back, is a joke. The Rockets need to make the personnel moves that they should have perhaps thought about before making the decision to fire Kevin McHale, but it does feel this team missed their window to reach the NBA Finals last season.
Dwight Howard has been rumoured to be asking for a trade and maybe Houston need to think if there is a way to turn this season because this current group are not getting it done. James Harden hasn't looked himself either and to be below 0.500 after thirty-three games is really disappointing for the Rockets.
The Western Conference doesn't look as strong as it has in previous years so Houston are still very much in contention for a Play Off spot, but they wanted more this season and need to make the personnel changes to do that.
And anyone who saw the end of the Cleveland win over Denver will know those teams were happy to settle for a push with the Cavs giving up buckets and the Nuggets not wanting to foul.
Indiana Pacers @ Chicago Bulls Pick: The Indiana Pacers have two games left in 2015 and I do wonder if they will be fully focused on this game and not on the home one to finish the calendar year. However, the Chicago Bulls are one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference and I expect the Pacers to be motivated to try and knock them off for a second time this season having split the first two games.
Indiana would love for Paul George to rediscover his shooting as he has struggled badly over the last week, but the team have rallied to win their last couple of games. That will give the Pacers some confidence and they are facing one of the more inconsistent teams in the Eastern Conference.
There is plenty to like about Chicago, but the team don't look completely on board with the new ideas being bounced around by Fred Hoiberg. The second unit has taken a hit with Joakim Noah out, but the Bulls are potentially looking to trade him or Taj Gibson to provide more outside shooting.
The Bulls are just 9-11 against the spread when favoured by between 3.5 and 6 points at home and Indiana have proved to be a tough road underdog. I think Indiana play them tough here and can make a small number of points prove to be the difference in a cover or non-cover.
Utah Jazz @ Minnesota Timberwolves Pick: Two of the more disappointing teams in the Western Conference meet just a couple of days before the end of the 2015 calendar year. The Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz were both coming into the season with some big expectations, but those have failed to materialise to this point and both have a lot to do to get into the Play Off mix in the West.
It is arguable that both might have preferred this game to be played in Utah- there is no doubting the Jazz are better at home, while the Timberwolves have been much stronger on the road.
I can't imagine confidence is that high for either team at this moment even if Utah have had more wins of late. That might play a factor, and the Jazz have a very good record in Minnesota while the Timberwolves have struggled in their position as a home favourite.
Utah are 6-1 against the spread in their last seven games in Minnesota and I do think the wrong team is favoured here. Backing them with the points against a young Timberwolves team that have seemingly lost their way looks the call.
Philadelphia 76ers @ Sacramento Kings Pick: The Sacramento Kings blew a half time lead against the Golden State Warriors but they might have lost more when DeMarcus Cousins was ejected. Cousins might be forced to sit out this game through suspension, and that makes the 76ers an attractive spread to back for the third time in a row.
Philadelphia have covered in their last couple of games and they were perhaps a little fortunate to do that, especially in the game with Utah.
However, the 76ers have shown some character for much of the season and I think the Sacramento Kings won't be focused too much without their best player. I expect the Kings to win but covering almost double digits in terms of points might be beyond them in this one.
The 76ers have covered in their last seven games in Sacramento and the Kings are just 3-11 against the spread when favoured between 6.5 and 12 points.
MY PICKS: 28/12 Charlotte Hornets - 12.5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
28/12 Philadelphia 76ers + 10.5 Points @ 1.91 Coral (1 Unit)
28/12 Golden State Warriors - 13.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
29/12 Detroit Pistons - 2 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
29/12 Houston Rockets - 2.5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
29/12 Cleveland Cavaliers - 6 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
30/12 Indiana Pacers + 3.5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
30/12 Utah Jazz + 2 Points @ 1.91 Bet Fred (1 Unit)
30/12 Philadelphia 76ers + 9.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
December 21-27 Final: 7-5-1, + 1.35 Units
December 14-20 Final: 9-3-1, + 5.19 Units
December 7-13 Final: 2-4, - 2.14 Units
November Final: 27-22-1, + 2.69 Units
October Final: 5-4, + 0.57 Units
Season 2016: 32-26-1, + 3.26 Units