Cross-conference matchups and a Central Division clash will highlight the slate on the second Wednesday of the New Year. It's time for teams to make a move in the standings, and these matchups look to offer great betting value for our NBA picks.
Utah Jazz vs. Charlotte Bobcats
The Utah Jazz have been a generally poor team on the road this season. At 18-18 overall, their strong home record is what has kept them afloat in the Western Conference race as they have not fared well away from Salt Lake City. Even so, Utah has won its two most recent road games against teams with inferior records.
The Jazz were not able to beat Denver and the Los Angeles Clippers on the road over the past two weeks but those two clubs have records that are superior to the Jazz's .500 mark. Utah did beat Orlando and Phoenix, the kinds of opponents the Jazz should be expected to beat. That reality shapes this contest. Utah should beat Charlotte and since this game is not part of a back-to-back set for the Jazz, who are off on Tuesday, the visitors should be fresh as they travel to North Carolina.
The NBA odds makers have given the Jazz a -4.5 pont price tag, and I believe that this gives us some great value. Take Utah here, even though Charlotte finally snapped an 18-game losing skid a week and a half ago.
NBA Pick: Jazz -4.5 at Bovada
Phoenix Suns vs. Boston Celtics
The NBA world was stirred this past Monday night, as Boston Celtic big man Kevin Garnett very nearly got into an altercation with New York Knick superstar Carmelo Anthony following Boston's 102-96 win in New York. The fact that the Celtics won was impressive enough but this struggling team – battling the effects of old age and general creakiness – had to get a big lift from Garnett's display of attitude. It might not be impressive on a moral level but Garnett's fire – plus his ability to get under the skin of an opponent – could prove to be just the spark the Celtics have been searching for over the past few weeks.
Expect Boston to be energized and enthusiastic in this home game against a Phoenix team that has been adrift in 2013 without Steve Nash, a sorely missed point guard who was the icon of the franchise for many years.
NBA Pick: Celtics -8.5 at WillHill
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Chicago Bulls
The Milwaukee Bucks are in a state of transition and uncertainty. Head coach Scott Skiles, who has piloted the team for the past several years, stepped away from the job and gave indications that he was having a miserable time coaching this particular assemblage of players. Assistant coach Jim Boylan will take over the team, trying to guide it through stormy seas. Players on the Bucks' roster might be liberated by the departure of Skiles but then again, this marks an adjustment period for Milwaukee.
Going up against Chicago's relentless defense, the Bucks' halfcourt offense might not function very smoothly. Chicago is the pick that makes sense in this situation. The Bulls won this past Friday night at Miami against the defending champion Heat and they should enter this game with confidence – at least more confidence than Milwaukee, to be sure.
NBA Pick: Bulls -5.5 at SportsInteraction