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Friday, 1 December 2017

NBA Picks December 2017 (December 1-10)

The first two months of the NBA season have been solid enough for the picks and now we move into December when you do see the difference between the top teams and those who are likely to be involved in the trade market to improve for the 2018/19 season.

There have been a number of stories in the NBA which have made headlines despite going up against the NFL and the last weeks of the College Football regular season. The firing of David Fizdale as Head Coach of the Memphis Grizzlies was perhaps the biggest with many around the NBA expressing their surprise at the decision.

It was perhaps less of a surprise when the decision essentially came down to Fizdale or Marc Gasol/Mike Conley and I think the Grizzlies had to make the move.

Fizdale will be ok, but the Memphis Grizzlies need to get things turned around this month or risk becoming a team taking a lot of calls for their top talent.


This thread is going to cover the opening week of the December NBA games and then the threads will be December 11-17, December 18-23, December 25-31 to cover the rest of the month.

Hopefully it will be another solid month for the Picks to put the season totals in a very good position in time for the turn of the year.


Friday 1st December
Detroit Pistons @ Washington Wizards Pick: It is something of a surprise to see the Detroit Pistons as a road favourite at the Washington Wizards, but that says a lot about the state of the two teams going into this Friday contest. While the Pistons look settled and have won three in a row since their loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Washington Wizards are banged up to say the least.

It looks like the Wizards will be definitely without John Wall, but his back court partner Bradley Beal is questionable and that is not good news for a team who have lost five of their last seven. The Wizards are making this quick pit stop back at home but they have also lost their last couple of games here and it looks a tough spot for them.

With their top names you would think Washington would match up well with Detroit but the absence of Wall and potentially Beal will be very difficult to overcome. That is especially the case with how efficient Detroit have been shooting the ball and they also have the size to out-battle the Wizards on the boards to give themselves every chance of winning here.

The only concern for the Pistons has to be how well Washington have defended the three point shot as that has been where Detroit have been making hay recently. However I do think Wall and Beal both being out of contention to play would be a huge blow to those Defensive rotations and I like the Pistons here.

Detroit have gone 5-0 against the spread when visiting a team with a winning record this season and they have been covering at a high rate on the road. A lot of the times that has been as the underdog, so the change in situation is another worry, although I expect Detroit to battle past that with the way they have been playing.

The Pistons may only be 2-6 against the spread in the last eight against Washington, but the Wizards might be short-handed here and I like the Pistons to snap that trend. The Wizards have not been that good against the spread when playing at home and I will look for Detroit to make some big plays in the Fourth Quarter which helps them get past another top name in the NBA.


San Antonio Spurs @ Memphis Grizzlies Pick: The Memphis Grizzlies battled hard but ultimately came up short against the San Antonio Spurs a couple of days ago in Texas to drop their ninth game in a row. It is difficult to see where the Grizzlies are going to snap the run of losses with another game against San Antonio and then a trip to Cleveland to come in the next two days.

With the injuries on the roster it has been very difficult for Memphis to get things turned around, although the fallout between David Fizdale and Marc Gasol have not helped at all. Now the Grizzlies have to find a new identification with what they want to do on the court and I think they may have to settle for another loss to the San Antonio Spurs.

The Spurs are still waiting for Kahwi Leonard to return from an injury and the wait is supposed to end in the next couple of weeks. However the Spurs have still found a way to win games which isn't a big surprise and three straight wins have given them some momentum going forward.

San Antonio have played some improved Defense and that has sparked their performances, while I do expect to see them find a way to slow down Memphis for the second time in three days. The Grizzlies have been struggling for consistency on the Offensive side of the court, and the new style that has been implemented have not helped Grind City on the Defensive side.

The Spurs should also have the better of Memphis on the boards and adding those factors together looks like San Antonio will be able to cover this number on the road.

The concern has to be that San Antonio have not played as well on the road when it comes to their spread numbers and they are 1-4 against the spread in the last five in Memphis. However the Memphis Grizzlies numbers have not been good for some time when it comes to the spread and I think San Antonio will find a way to win this by around the same number as they did when hosting Memphis a couple of days ago.


Minnesota Timberwolves @ Oklahoma City Thunder Pick: Russell Westbrook looks like he will overcome any issue with his hand to take his place in the line up for this Friday night game, but I think the Minnesota Timberwolves can be chanced with the points to at least keep this close.

Neither them or the Oklahoma City Thunder have been in any kind of consistent form, but the Timberwolves definitely look the more settled of the two teams.

The Thunder have had issues getting on the same page with the look line up and that has seen the Offensive side of the court really have problems to find the efficiency they would like. Of course they are playing with revenge having lost to the Timberwolves in October, but this is a team who have not covered when set as the favourite in their last five games in that situation.

Minnesota won outright as the underdog in New Orleans last time out and they should have enough to expose some of the holes in the Oklahoma City Defense. With the size to also challenge them on the boards, I like the Timberwolves to keep this one close enough for the cover.

The underdog has covered in the last four in this series and Oklahoma City are 3-9 against the spread in the last twelve against teams from the Western Conference. I will look for Minnesota to keep both trends going and I will take the points here.


Monday 4th December
I didn't have the time to research the NBA Picks as I would have liked over the weekend and so I decided to have a couple of days off from them. Friday turned out to be a decent day with a positive start to the month, and hopefully the one pick from Monday can put another winner on the board.

Detroit Pistons @ San Antonio Spurs Pick: Gregg Popovich is not impressed with the schedule the San Antonio Spurs have in front of them and has already decided that he needs to make sure players are kept fresh. That meant he rested some of the biggest names on the San Antonio roster on Sunday evening when travelling to the Oklahoma City Thunder, and it was no real surprise the Spurs came up short in that game.

Back at home on Monday should mean the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge and Tony Parker are back in the rotation for a team playing a third game in four days. However they are well rested having not even travelled to Oklahoma City on Sunday and San Antonio are the favourites when they face the Detroit Pistons.

A strong start to the season has given the Pistons plenty of confidence, but they have lost back to back games at Washington and Philadelphia which has bothered Stan Van Gundy. In both games Detroit were in a decent position before falling apart and Van Gundy will know that is not going to be good enough for a team who have to make the Play Offs in the Eastern Conference this season.

This one should be a decent game, but I do give the edge to the Spurs who have focused on this game more than the trip to Oklahoma City. Defensively the Spurs continue to play at a high level and that can be the difference maker in a game where both teams have shot the ball efficiently, but the Spurs look to have the edge on the other side of the court.

San Antonio also have the size to challenge a Detroit team who have been very good on the glass for much of the season. Being able to prevent those second chance points can be a huge benefit for the Spurs and I do like them here when you consider how well they have played at home.

The Spurs are 9-3 against the spread at home this season and they are 6-1 against the spread when favoured by less than 5 points so far. As well as Detroit have played as the underdog, they are 1-3 against the spread when given less than 5 points as a start while the Pistons have not covered in their last five games against San Antonio.

I can imagine this game will be close and Detroit have to be respected for how they have played against the better teams in the NBA on the road. However this doesn't feel like enough points for them to be given and I will back the Spurs to cover.


Wednesday 6th December
There wasn't anything of interest on Tuesday, but I have a couple of picks from Wednesday with short analysis below.

Sacramento Kings @ Cleveland Cavaliers Pick: I expect the Cleveland Cavaliers to continue having their Offensive success in this one, but a young Sacramento Kings team can also come also come out swinging.

The Kings have been efficient from the field and are shooting the three ball well enough to have success against a Cavaliers team who aren't always focused when playing some of the weaker teams in the NBA.

With the chance to battle on the boards, I will be looking for Sacramento to contribute to a high-scoring game and I will back the over.


Golden State Warriors @ Charlotte Hornets Pick: Losing Steph Curry from any team in the NBA would be a blow, but the Golden State Warriors look like they have the depth to make up for the absence of the All-Star. Draymond Green may also miss out on Wednesday, but I still like the Warriors here.

Charlotte have to be respected having got Kemba Walker back up and running, but there is still room for improvement from a shooting efficiency point of view. That will be tested by the Golden State Warriors and I think the absence of Curry will just get the rest of the roster playing a little harder to prove they can win without one of their star players.

The Warriors have dominated the recent series and I will back them to cover.


Thursday 7th December
Brooklyn Nets vs Oklahoma City Thunder Pick: This NBA game is being played in Mexico City where the Brooklyn Nets will be 'hosting' two games this week. In January the NBA International Series will head over to London as they join the NFL in trying to expand the reaches of the League.

It is the Oklahoma City Thunder who get the first opportunity to play against the Brooklyn Nets and they are beginning to pick up some momentum after early difficulties with the new 'Big Three' being put together. Now it feels like Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George are beginning to get a little more comfortable playing with one another and the Thunder could start producing more consistency going forward.

They have won three in a row, although it has to be pointed out that the Thunder continue to be over-rated by the oddsmakers and so they have not covered in six straight games. The Thunder have also been a poor favourite to side with, but I think they have a chance to do better going forward and the teams they have faced in recent weeks have been far superior to the Brooklyn Nets.

Brooklyn have won three of their last five games which will give them confidence, but they still have some real Defensive issues which have to be of concern. Going up against this Thunder line up, those issues are likely to be more prevalent and I do think Oklahoma City can underline how they are beginning to find the groove Offensively.

It won't be a one-sided game as Brooklyn have shown they can score plenty of points too and their strength from the three point line can be dangerous against any team they face. The Nets also have the size to battle on the boards with the Thunder and that shooting ability will make them a threat to the Thunder if they are not at full speed.

With the game being played in Mexico City, I can see these two teams really putting an entertaining affair together and looking for the total points to be surpassed looks the call. The over has dominated in recent games between the Nets and the Thunder and I will look for that trend to continue in this meeting.


Houston Rockets @ Utah Jazz Pick: The Houston Rockets are showing why so many have picked them as a dark horse in the Western Conference to reach the NBA Finals. The return of Chris Paul has been huge for the Rockets who have won seven straight games, but the Rockets had been strong even when the All-Star had been out of action.

Since Paul's return the Houston Rockets have been dominant on both sides of the court and that has seen them winning games by large margins. Each of their last seven wins have come by double digits and it is going to be a real challenge for the Utah Jazz to slow them down.

Utah have played better than expected this season after losing Gordon Hayward, and the Jazz had won six in a row before the defeat to the Oklahoma City Thunder last time out. That has kept the Jazz above 0.500 and they are still playing well Defensively which makes them a threat, but they are going to be challenged by how well Houston have moved the ball Offensively and found their shots.

That is going to be the key to this entire game especially as Utah have shot the ball efficiently enough themselves. If Houston are shooting the ball well enough, it will still be a challenge for Utah to keep up simply with how well Houston have been playing on the Defensive side of the court, but I do think it will be close going into the Fourth Quarter.

At that point the Houston superiority should begin to show as the Rockets are also a little fresher with this being the third game in four days for the Jazz.

Utah are only 2-3 against the spread this season when given 5 or more points as the underdog while they are 2-7 against the spread in their last nine when given one day of rest between games.

Houston are 7-1 against the spread in their last eight when given three or more days rest between games and they have covered in their last six on the road. This is the biggest test they would have had in recent road games, but I do like the Houston Rockets to find the big shots in the Fourth Quarter to pull away for the cover here.


Friday 8th December
It has been a bit of a frustrating start to the month with a couple of the picks on the over/under market letting me down. In both games there was a really slow shooting start which put the chances of the 'over' out of contention before things really got going which is more of a frustration than anything else.

I am hoping to get this turned around sooner rather than later.

Golden State Warriors @ Detroit Pistons Pick: The absence of Steph Curry may have been a problem for the Golden State Warriors in past years, but this really does feel like Kevin Durant's team and it was Durant who helped lead the Warriors past the Charlotte Hornets a couple of nights ago. He will likely have Draymond Green back to support him as the Warriors conclude a road trip in which they are looking to go unbeaten.

Klay Thompson was speaking for me when he said that it can be tough for a team to play a final road game on a long trip as they begin to look forward to going home. That is a tough spot for the Golden State Warriors, but I think Thompson's comments alleviates any concern for a sub-par effort while the Detroit Pistons have been one of the stronger teams in the opening weeks of the NBA season to keep the Warriors focused.

There is revenge on the mind too as Golden State were beaten at home by the Pistons earlier this season.

The Pistons are returning home after a difficult four game road trip in which time they were beaten four times, while Detroit have something to prove themselves after recently being blown out at home by the Cleveland Cavaliers. They have been better at home but this is still a game in which the Pistons need to show the rest of the NBA that they are for real.

It won't be an easy test for the Golden State Warriors, but they have been shooting the ball so well of late and they can hurt the Detroit Pistons. With Green back, the Defensive shape should be back to its best and I just think the Warriors are superior at both ends of the court and can produce one more big effort on the road.

The struggles Detroit have had on the boards in recent games has been a concern for Stan Van Gundy and I think the Warriors can have success there too which makes it very hard to see them losing this game. The revenge factor for a rare home loss just adds to the motivation for a team who are trying to sweep their recent road trip.

While Detroit have some strong numbers against the spread, the Golden State Warriors are 16-6 against the spread when visiting a team with a winning record at home. Enough factors are pointing towards the Warriors that I will lay the points with them as the road favourite.


Cleveland Cavaliers @ Indiana Pacers Pick: A strong run has seen Cleveland win twelve games in a row and the Cavaliers will be looking for revenge after being beaten at home by the Indiana Pacers earlier this season. LeBron James has been proving how big he can be in the clutch in some of the recent wins, but the Cavaliers have tended to play better on the road than at home and have definitely been more dominant winners on the road during this run.

The Indiana Pacers have been one of the surprise teams of the early part of the NBA season and will be expecting to kick on and make the Play Offs out of the weaker Eastern Conference. They will be looking for more dominance at home, but the Pacers have won three in a row here since their home defeat to the Boston Celtics.

However there is something for the Pacers to prove in this game and that is that they can compete with the top teams in the NBA. They have won four and lost three of their last seven games, but all three losses have come against teams at the very top of the NBA and none of the wins have been at that level.

Indiana should have their chances against the Cleveland Cavaliers who have lost some of their Defensive intensity in the last few games. With the way the Pacers have been shooting the ball they should be able to make their plays in this one, but the bigger concern will be trying to shut down a Cleveland team who are shooting from over 50% from the field in recent games.

Cleveland have also been the superior team on the boards and Indiana could be missing Myles Turner which would further hinder them here. That should mean the Cavaliers have every chance to pull away in the Fourth Quarter and win this game with a cover of the number and I like them doing that with revenge for a home loss on the minds.

The Cavaliers don't have a great recent record against Indiana, but the road team is 6-0 against the spread in the last six in this series. Cleveland have also been really strong when it comes to facing teams on the road who have a winning record and I am going to back Cleveland to win and cover the spread here.


Toronto Raptors @ Memphis Grizzlies Pick: It has been a miserable first third of the season for the Memphis Grizzlies and there are very few signs that things will improve any time soon. The Grizzlies have a new voice to listen to in the locker room, but the loss of Mike Conley to an injury is a bitter blow for a team who have been struggling Offensively and who have lost their identity Defensively.

They host a Toronto Raptors team who are hoping to find some consistency in their play, but who have won four in a row to move eight games above 0.500. No one in the Toronto camp will be getting too carried away by a good run when they haven't really played any team that can be considered amongst the best in the NBA.

This is the start of a Western Conference road trip for the Raptors who should be rested and ready to go. It is also a good position for the Raptors to begin that road trip with the chance for a confidence boosting win as they face the struggling Memphis Grizzlies, but the concern has to be that Toronto are just 6-6 on the road this season.

Toronto should have every chance to open with a win as they have been very efficient shooting the ball and can take advantage of the Memphis struggles. The Raptors should have enough open looks to put the pressure on the Grizzlies, while the latter have not been as fluent Offensively and are facing a decent Defensive unit.

The Grizzlies can keep things competitive with their recent three point shooting, but it has been tough sledging for them. The real concern has to be the struggles on the boards which has meant teams have been able to earn second chance opportunities and Toronto certainly have the size to dominate the rebounding numbers.

I do like the Raptors here and this is a team who have been strong when favoured by 6 points or more where they are 7-4 against the spread this season. The Raptors are also 3-1-1 against the spread in the last five in this series.

Memphis are also just 1-8 against the spread in their last nine home games and I will look for the road favourite to cover in a third game on Friday evening.


Saturday 9th December
New York Knicks @ Chicago Bulls Pick: It has been a night and day situation for the New York Knicks when they have played at home and on the road. At home the Knicks have been very good, but they have been poor on the road, although I do think they have every chance of earning a rare road win here.

The Chicago Bulls are off a win, but that came on Friday night and they needed to get through Overtime to upset the Charlotte Hornets. Now they have to travel home and there has to be some emotional let down against the New York Knicks especially with the Bulls facing the Boston Celtics at home next.

New York are the favourites and missing Tim Hardaway Jr, but I think they can win and cover on the road on Saturday evening.

MY PICKS: 01/12 Detroit Pistons - 1.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
01/12 San Antonio Spurs - 4.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
01/12 Minnesota Timberwolves + 5.5 Points @ 1.91 William Hill (1 Unit)
04/12 San Antonio Spurs - 3.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
06/12 Cleveland Cavaliers-Sacramento Kings Over 209 Total Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
06/12 Golden State Warriors - 5 Points @ 1.91 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
07/12 Brooklyn Nets-Oklahoma City Thunder Over 213.5 Total Points @ 1.91 Coral (1 Unit)
07/12 Houston Rockets - 5.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
08/12 Golden State Warriors - 5.5 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
08/12 Cleveland Cavaliers - 3.5 Points @ 1.91 Bet365 (1 Unit)
08/12 Toronto Raptors - 6 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
09/12 New York Knicks - 3 Points @ 1.91 Paddy Power (1 Unit)

December 1-9 Update: 5-7, - 2.45 Units (12 Units Staked, - 20.42% Yield)

November Final: 26-15, + 8.74 Units (41 Units Staked, + 21.32% Yield)
October Final: 12-10, + 1.05 Units (22 Units Staked, + 4.77% Yield)

Season 2017/18 Update: 38-25, + 9.79 Units (63 Units Staked, + 15.54% Yield)

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