Basketball Picks: December 23

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.



Basketball Picks: December 9

Bucks (+10) over Thunder: Oklahoma City returns home after a three-game road trip. Kevin Durant returned to the lineup for the first game of the trip but the Thunder are still adjusting to having their star player healthy. They lost to the Pelicans, and defeated lowly Philadelphia and Detroit in unconvincing fashion. There will be a lot excitement at Chesapeake Energy Arena for Durant’s first home game of the season. However, I don’t think this situation favors the Thunder. This is also an unfavorable scheduling spot here as Oklahoma City hosts Cleveland on Thursday night in one of the primetime games on TNT. Meanwhile, the Bucks have been a pleasant surprise this season and have started 11-11. I expect the Bucks to keep this game close and cover the double-digit spread.

Heat (+4.5) over Suns: Phoenix is back at home after a three-game road trip that included games against the Mavericks, Rockets and Clippers, all Western Conference contenders. Last night they lost on a buzzer-beater in overtime to the Clippers. I think they come out flat against a struggling Miami team that needs to start playing better. The Heat still have good players like Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade who know they are catching Phoenix at the right time.

Basketball Picks: December 3

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.