Cavaliers (pick) over Hornets: LeBron James is hurt for Cleveland so there will be some value on the Cavaliers if the point spread overreacts to his injury. Charlotte is also missing their star in Al Jefferson.
Magic (+1.5) over Nets: The Nets are coming off a big win in Chicago, and the Magic were embarrassed at home against Detroit. I think Orlando bounces back at home.
Pistons (-2.5) over Knicks: The Knicks return home after a grueling West Coast road trip. The Pistons are still undefeated after getting rid of Josh Smith.
Celtics (+5.5) over Mavericks: Rajon Rondo returns to Boston in what I imagine will be a emotional game for him. I think the Celtics will be motivated to beat their former point guard.
Jazz (+4) over Hawks: The Hawks amazing run goes out West and I think Atlanta has a let down after beating Cleveland on Tuesday. The Jazz are are tough team to beat at home.
Pelicans (-1) over Pacers: Indiana returns home after a three-game road trip where they finished 1-2. Their lone win was against lowly Minnesota. Their victory against the Timberwolves was their second win of December with the other coming against the Lakers at home. New Orleans is coming off a big win against Oklahoma City but I think they will remain focused. The Pelicans have to win these game against Eastern Conference foes to stay in the playoff race. The Pacers show up flat, and the Pelicans will get a relatively easy win.
Hornets (+5.5) over Bucks: Milwaukee is also back home after a long West Coast road trip. They had more success on the stand with a 2-2 record and close loses against the Trail Blazers and Clippers. I believe this line is giving Milwaukee too much respect after their impressive stretch of games. Meanwhile, the Hornets are on a three-game win streak and have played much better without guard Lance Stephenson on the court. I like the Hornets because of the unfavorable situation for Milwaukee, and would take Charlotte to win straight up if Stephenson remains out with an injury.
I passed on the basketball games for Thursday but have five NBA games I will pick for today:
Hornets (-4.5) over Knicks: The Hornets are really struggling but face a Knicks team that just played the Cavaliers on Thursday night.
Cavaliers (+4) over Raptors: Toronto’s first game back after a long west coast road trip. It was a costly trip for the Raptors as they lost guard DeMar DeRozan to injury. The Cavaliers will be focused for this game against one of the better teams in the conference.
Hawks (-1.5) over Nets: The Hawks are quietly 11-6. The Nets are coming off an overtime win against the Spurs.
Spurs (pick) over Grizzlies: I think the Spurs bounce back after an overtime loss in Brooklyn. Memphis is back home after a long road trip, which is a situation where I like to fade a team.
Suns (+5.5) over Mavericks: Dallas is also playing their first home game after a road trip. They went 4-0 away from home but played some close games. They won in double overtime in Chicago on Tuesday and won on the buzzer-beater over Milwaukee the next night.
Hornets (+3) over Bulls: The Bulls played a double overtime game last night against the Mavericks. Now they have to go back on the road after a brief stop at home.
Bucks (+5) over Mavericks: See above
Duke (+4) over Wisconsin: I think this is a bucket game either way. Duke is a young team and Wisconsin has a great home court advantage. However, I think Wisconsin should only be a two-point favorite and are getting respect because of their final four run last year.