Friday’s best NBA bets start in the Eastern Conference, where the Brooklyn Nets are back in business, and the Rudy Gay trade has made the Toronto Raptors better, not worse.
<p><i>Jason’s record on his final <a target="_blank" title="NBA Picks & Predictions" href="/nba-basketball/">NBA picks for 2013</a>, up to December 17 inclusive:</i></p> <p><i>25-25 ATS</i></p> <p><i>5-5 Totals</i></p> <p>How about that <a target="_blank" title="NBA Picks: Eastern Conference Woes Worth Exploiting" href="/nba-basketball/news/nba-picks-eastern-conference-woes-worth-exploiting-a-32886/">Eastern Conference</a>? Sure, things look bad right now, especially in the Atlantic Division (aka “the Titanic Division”), where all five teams have losing records. But believe it or not, some of those teams have some talent. Injuries have been a problem for the high-profile clubs in the Big Apple; however, many of their key players have gotten back into the lineup and back into the win column. Meanwhile, those forgotten and ignored Canadians have gotten rid of that nasty clog in their lineup. Let’s see who’s got the jam to beat <a target="_blank" title="Live NBA Odds" href="/betting-odds/nba-basketball/">the NBA odds this Friday</a>.</p> <p><b>Brooklyn vs. Philadelphia (7:00 p.m. ET)</b></p> <p>Don’t say we didn’t warn you. The Nets (9-16 SU, 11-14 ATS) were horrible to start the season, but that was with <a target="_blank" title="NBA Injuries" href="/nba-basketball/injuries/">a ton of injuries to their top players</a>, including center Brook Lopez (27.3 PER) and PG Deron Williams (17.3 PER). Brooklyn still isn’t 100 percent healthy, but the starters have all returned, and the Nets have won four of their last six games at 5-1 ATS. The only fear from a basketball betting perspective is that their reputation will be salvaged too quickly to get enough value from the NBA lines.</p> <p>Remember when Philadelphia (7-19 SU, 10-16 ATS) was the feel-good story of the early season? The Sixers have lost their last seven in a row at 1-6 ATS, including a 130-94 laugher to the Nets (–8.5 at home) on Monday. Injuries have caught up with their already-thin roster; their best player, PG Michael Carter-Williams (18.9 PER), has a bacterial infection in his knee and is uncertain for Friday’s matchup.</p> <p><b>NBA Pick:</b> Take the Nets</p> <p><b>Toronto vs. Dallas (8:30 p.m. ET)</b></p> <p>If you’re a veteran of the basketball betting wars, you probably thought the Raptors (9-14 SU, 10-13 ATS) improved significantly by trading SF Rudy Gay (15.6 PER) to the Sacramento Kings for a collection of bench players led by PG Greivis Vasquez (15.1 PER). Most of the sharper analysts out there felt the same way, even while the conventional media assumed the Gay trade was for tanking purposes. The Raptors are 3-2 SU and ATS since taking Gay out of the equation. They’re moving the ball much better now, and the added depth on the second unit is making a huge difference.</p> <p>The Mavericks (15-10 SU, 14-11 ATS) are coming off a 105-91 victory over the short-handed Memphis Grizzlies, improving to 5-2 SU and ATS in their last seven games. PF Dirk Nowitzki (23.3 PER) has been revitalized with SG Monta Ellis (18.6 PER) spacing the floor and dishing out 5.5 assists per 36 minutes. Both Nowitzki and head coach Rick Carlisle got sick over the weekend, but both were back in action against Memphis and should be fine going forward.</p> <p><b>NBA Pick:</b> Take the Raptors</p> <p><b>Phoenix vs. Denver (9:00 p.m. ET)</b></p> <p>Phoenix (14-10 SU, 17-6-1 ATS) still has the best ATS record in the league, despite <a target="_blank" title="Suns over Spurs for your NBA Picks" href="/nba-basketball/free-picks/suns-over-spurs-your-nba-picks-a-35908/">losing 108-101 to the San Antonio Spurs</a> (–3.5 away) on Wednesday. The fact that the Suns played a competitive game against the reigning Western Conference champions speaks volumes for their progress under the new regime of GM Ryan McDonough and head coach Jeff Hornacek. Keep pounding them while you can.</p> <p>The Nuggets (14-10 SU, 12-12 ATS) have hit a speed bump at 3-4 SU and 2-5 ATS over the past seven games, putting the brakes on their seven-game winning streak. Center Timofey Mozgov (17.2 PER) appears to have regressed back to his previous career levels (13.3 PER) during this span, which is too bad, because JaVale McGee is still rehabbing his broken leg and might not be back for quite a while.</p> <p><b>NBA Pick:</b> Take the Suns</p>