Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:55 AM
Thursday's Best Bets
After splitting the board yesterday with these plays, I thought it best to take a crack at Boxing Day plays as well. Six games on the card, and there can't many guys thrilled about being involved in this slate. They don't get the prime time slot on Christmas Day, nor do they get the amount of rest the other teams off until at least tomorrow get. Not something to really concern yourself with, just something to not forget.
With all those better teams who played yesterday getting the day off, there is far less substance in today's card. Doesn't mean we can't try to find some winners though:
New York at Brooklyn (7:30 p.m. ET)
Best Bet #1: New York/Brooklyn Over 222
The way I look at games on days like these when there is plenty of potential for teams no-showing, is that the less travel you've got to do, there is more of a chance it feels like a normal game day. That's generally a good thing in terms of getting strong efforts out of guys because they didn't get pulled away late Christmas night or early today for travel. And while the San Antonio/Dallas game was considered here too, it's the New York showdown that does have a few more positives.
Both the Nets and Brooklyn give up 111+ per game, and while total aggregate for them is basically the same as what a Spurs/Mavericks game gets you, it still feels like you can trust the Knicks to give up 115/game a whole lot more. It's actually been four straight games of allowing 120 or more for the Knicks, and Brooklyn is a team that's more willing to run against lesser foes. The last two times they put up 120 or more both came against Atlanta, and the Hawks last game with New York was one that finished with 263 points.
New York could end up victimizing this play by one of those prolonged scoring droughts they still fight, Brooklyn's not all that interested in sustaining defense either. Brooklyn has had most of their better defensive efforts here at home lately, but they probably don't feel that they'll need one today to beat the Knicks. A 115-110 type game is the Nets really need here, and more times then not this game lands around that range.
Portland at Utah (TNT, 10:35 p.m. ET)
Best Bet #2: Utah -5.5
First home game in more then a week for the Jazz, who end up going from Miami to Utah to LA in the span of five days this week. Think they make the most of the small, extended stay at home who is facing a Portland team that's in a one-off travel spot as well. Would always prefer Utah's position in that debate, and it's not like the Jazz aren't playing good basketball these days either.
Utah has won five of their last six outright, and would be riding a 4-0 ATS winning streak had they beat Atlanta by one more bucket last week. The Jazz are starting to play like they've figured themselves out this year, and that's really a good thing. Utah fell victim to suffering too many bad losses right after dealing with a tough loss, and they could never stay on track. But the schedule eased up a bit in terms of quality of opponent – they've already played Philadelphia and Milwaukee both times this season (2-2 SU) – and the Jazz are more comfortable in their skin against teams they know they should beat.
Portland is a team the Jazz should beat, as they are a team that needs to have at least two of Carmelo, McCollum, and Lillard to be having good to great nights, and against the better defensive teams, like Utah is, that's tough to be only taking this many points. Portland had what is effectively a six-game home stand broken up for this trip, and if there is going to be a team that may not want to be where they currently are tonight in the league, the Blazers are a good candidate to be so. Portland's been playing better of late too, but they've only had three other road games this month, and that's got to be factored in as well. The Blazers are just 1-5 ATS the last six times they've been priced as an underdog.
As long as Utah brings their B+ game tonight, they'll be able to cover this number, and anything graded out in the A range will make this number feel a bit short. A 3-7 ATS run for the Jazz doesn't fully take the picture of what this team has recently done and what's directly ahead of them. Their schedule lightened up in a big way, but past results against the number that have been poor, puts them as a nice buy team while the slate for them stays light.