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NBA Games Preview – Sunday 22.12.2019

Pre-holiday weekend in NBA, which means the festive period with a bunch of early games is already here 😊:

 

Toronto Raptors - Dallas Mavericks (20.30 UK Time)

Doncic’ absence is a loss for Mavs and for the neutral spectator. Luka has no firm timetable for his return, but the ankle injury is not too serious according to the reports. The team is just playing it safe. Still he’s unlikely to suit in uniform this calendar year. Porzingis and Seth Curry are taking the offensive load in Luka’s absence nicely anyway. Mavs have lost just 3 games in their last 10 and hold the 4th spot in the West. They are a bit weary from the ongoing East road trip but are doing no favours to Raptors for sure.

Toronto are also 4th in their Conference, with Pacers and Sixers close behind. Lowry is playing like his old self lately and it shows. The Canadian team is on 4-game winning streak. They are among the elite home teams with 12-3 records. Guess what though, Mavs are topping the league in road games with 85 % hitrate and 11-2 record.

Verdict: No odds here yet. It should be even money-line anyway. I’d give a slight advantage to the home team, mainly because of Dallas road weariness (and Luka’s factor of course). Would love to see Toronto ML at 1.85+ pregame and bet on it. If not, chances for in-play odds turnaround are very good here, as it the game will likely go basket for basket before the half-time.

 

Milwaukee Bucks - Indiana Pacers (00.00 UK Time)

 

Two of the hottest teams in the East meet here. Bucks are top of the league with 25-4 record. They lost a single game in their last 10. Dallas stopped Giannis’ troops long winning streak this past week with 120-116 win in Milwaukee. Bucks bounced back fast, beating Lakers 111-104 on Thursday. They beat Pacers easily by some 20 points in the first regular season game.

Indiana continue to await their best player Victor Oladipo to make his season debut. It won’t happen until the end of this year according to most reports but Pacers are playing excellent basketball even without him. They rely on gritty defense and carefully executed offensive plays with balanced scoring among the leading players. They can be dangerous even for the elite teams, as LeBron and Lakers experienced themselves this past week. Pacers won against them by 3 points.

Verdict: It’s very hard to surprise Giannis and Bucks at home. Indy won’t go down lightly though and maybe we could exploit the big spread in their favour. I’d be inlined to give them a chance with any spread of 10-12 points (more likely to be available in-play at some point).

 

Los Angeles Lakers - Denver Nuggets (02.30 UK Time)

Lakers return home for holidays. They should make it up to their fans after the 2 consecutive losses in the final games of their East road trip. They still sit on the 1st place in the West. The opponent today is the chaser Denver though. Nikola Jokic improved his game in the last 2 weeks and Nuggets are showing glimpses of their last regular season form. They surely want to avenge Lakers for the home loss in the first season series game (96-105 in the beginning of the month).

Verdict: Oddsmakers will give a deserved respect to Bron and Lakers at home, in a bounce-back spot for them. Nuggets might prove hard to beat though, even more so with a nice spread as a cushion. I’d be willing to take a chance on them with any spread of 7-8 + points, pre-game or live.

 

Oklahoma City Thunder - Los Angeles Clippers (00.00 UK Time)

Paul George returns to his old hunting grounds in Oklahoma. Clippers are 7-3 in their last 10 games and will look to overtake Denver and Lakers for the first places in the Conference before the All-Star break in February.

OKC are 14-14 and hold on to the 7th spot in the West. They are playing well, at least against teams around their level. Rumours about a potential Chris Paul trade are swirling around the association though. The organization won’t be too happy with a first-round play-off exit, hence Paul’s trade makes perfect sense.

Verdict: Clippers will likely be installed as middle-spread favs here. I believe they will win the game but don’t want to take spreads bigger than 4-5 points for them to cover. If OKC start the game on the right foot, there’s every chance Clipps -4 or better becomes available in-play.

 

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