Expert Handicapper's NBA Picks of the Day for Jan. 3rd

David Lawrence

Saturday, January 3, 2015 3:28 PM GMT

In forming my NBA picks today, I keep in mind that there’s a little more than a month left before the All-Star break, so NBA teams want to put themselves in a better position when they take a week off to rest.

Utah Jazz vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
NBA Odds: Timberwolves -1
These teams have played recently in Salt Lake City, and now they shift to Minneapolis. Utah struggled for much of the previous game against Minnesota and was tied after three quarters. The Jazz were able to scratch out a 100-94 win, but they were not convincing. Gordon Hayward was convincing, though. He scored 26 points to lift his team to an ugly but necessary victory.

Now comes the return engagement on the Timberwolves’ home floor. The bettor in all of us knows that streaks are made to be broken, so with Minnesota having lost its last 10 games, the T-Wolves could be due for a breakthrough. On the other hand, it’s hard to give that kind of team the benefit of the doubt. Minnesota, at 5-26, has the third-worst record in the NBA. Andrew Wiggins has shown his potential, but he’s still learning on the job. Minnesota has a negative average point differential of minus-10.1 points. Utah is a respectable 5-5 in its last 10 games. The Jazz also have a credible defense, allowing just under 100 points per game. Minnesota allows over 108 points. That’s too big a gap. Take Utah in this game.

Free NBA Pick: Utah +1 at Pinnacle

 

Memphis Grizzlies vs. Denver Nuggets
NBA Odds: Grizzlies +1
The Grizzlies have cooled off. They’re only 6-4 in their last 10 games after setting a much more torrid pace earlier in the season. Yet, for all the ways in which the Grizzlies are declining and going through a rough patch, Memphis is still in very good shape compared to Denver. The Nuggets are 3-7 in their last 10 games and have lost three games in a row. The Nuggets allow almost 105 points per game, while Memphis is an elite defensive team, giving up only 97.2 points per game. The gulf between Memphis and Denver on defense is why the Grizzlies score 4.8 more points than their opponents and Denver has a 3.1-point deficit on a per-game basis. Memphis is also a strong road team, at 10-4. The Grizzlies are ready for the Rocky Mountain air of Denver. Take them with your NBA picks.

Free NBA Pick: Memphis

 

Atlanta Hawks vs. Portland Trail Blazers
NBA Odds: Trail Blazers -6
The Atlanta Hawks and Portland Trail Blazers are the two teams that are making people wonder, “Could these non-traditional teams be a part of the NBA Finals or at least the conference finals?” Neither team has lost nine games at this point in the season. Two months have come and gone, and the Hawks are 24-8 while the Blazers are 26-7. The Hawks are 8-2 in their last 10, but the Blazers are 9-1. The Hawks have won three in a row, but the Blazers have won four straight. Portland is also playing at home, where it is 15-2. The Hawks are also playing the second half of a back-to-back set. The situation lines up a little bit better for Portland here.

Free NBA Pick: Portland