Lakers Covering Huge Number at Red-Hot Rockets Among NBA Picks

Troy Haliburton

Wednesday, December 20, 2017 5:25 PM UTC

Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2017 5:25 PM UTC

The NBA is getting into full swing and there are a few games among tonight’s matchups that are very intriguing. Let’s take a look at some of the action and see if we can find a few quality bets to make.

NBA: Lakers vs. Rockets

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Free NBA Pick: Lakers +15Best Line Offered: Pinnacle

The Rockets have emerged as the NBA's best team, mauling opponents when they get on the court. The Rockets lead the NBA in point differential, outscoring foes by 11.3 points per game. The biggest reason for the Rockets' success this year, as opposed to years past, has to be the addition of Chris Paul.

Paul has come in and completely changed how the Rockets can operate on offense. Instead of relying on James Harden to produce the majority of the offense, Houston is putting the ball in Paul’s hands and letting him distribute to Harden and the rest of the Houston shooters when necessary. Harden is a phenomenal spot-up shooter and an even better cutter. Having Paul on the team allows Harden plenty more opportunities to play off the ball and conserve energy by not having to carry the load offensively.

The Lakers are showing some of the promise that the NBA world expected before the season started, and it all starts with the play of Lonzo Ball. The rookie point guard has still not found his shooting stroke, but has shown flashes of the brilliant passer that made him so highly touted coming out of UCLA. Ball is averaging 10 points, 7 assists and 7 rebounds per game, and has a commanding control over the offense The other bright spot for the Lakers has been the surprise play of Julius Randle off the bench. Randle lost his starting job to Larry Nance, but instead of pouting he has used that as motivation to become better. Coming off the bench suits Randle because he is able to showcase his playmaking skills and create offense for himself and others.

The Rockets are just too much on the offensive and defensive ends for the Lakers and tonight will stunt the young Lakers growth, but look for L.A. to at least stay competitive.

NBA: Heat vs. Celtics

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Free NBA Pick: Celtics -8.5Best Line Offered: Heritage

Boston is establishing itself as one of the elite teams in the NBA, and a lot of that credit has to go to head coach Brad Stevens. He continues to be masterful with his in-game decision-making and always puts his team in the best position to win.

The Celtics are the hottest team in the league with nine wins in their last 12 games, and defense has been the catalyst. Boston has the No. 1-ranked defense in terms of efficiency, and teams are struggling to score against a team that switches everything and has long defenders who drive opponents off the 3-point line. That does not bode well for a team such as the Heat, who are struggling to score.

The Heat, on the other hand, have been hit extremely hard by injuries. Miami lost to the Atlanta Hawks on Monday and they had to play that game without Hassan Whiteside, James Johnson, Goran Dragic, and Justise Winslow. With basically half the team out, Miami must rely on a former Celtic for production tonight. Jordan Mickey played in just 41 games in his two years in Boston, but now gets the opportunity to face his former team.

NBA: Jazz vs. Thunder

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Free NBA Pick: Thunder -7.5Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

Utah is another team that has been hit by the injury bug. Rudy Gobert had just come back from a knee injury before re-injuring the same knee; he is in the midst of another month off. In his absence, Derrick Favors is stepping up and scoring down low on the offensive end, but he can not supplement Gobert’s defensive production.

The Thunder are finally figuring out how to play together as a newly formed team, and that means establishing a hierarchy on who gets the basketball. Paul George has distinguished himself as the best player in Oklahoma City, and it would behoove the Thunder to start playing like that. OKC will play at its best when George is the focal point of the offense and Carmelo Anthony is relegated to ancillary role player.

These division rivals split their first two meetings, and with the Thunder’s lack of success against Western Conference opponents it would behoove them to take care of the Jazz when they are shorthanded.

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