Rockets to Make Celtics Latest Victims in Thursday's NBA Picks

Troy Haliburton

Thursday, December 28, 2017 6:01 PM UTC

Thursday, Dec. 28, 2017 6:01 PM UTC

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

NBA Thursday: Rockets vs. Celtics

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3263766, "sportsbooksIds":[238,169,19,43,180], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

Free NBA Pick: Rockets -1.5Best Line Offered: Heritage

In a matchup between two of the top teams in each conference, the Celtics and Rockets are coming into this game with something to prove. The Celtics are trying to prove they can remain relevant throughout the season, but the opening-day injury to Gordon Hayward is taking its toll on their thin roster. The Rockets are trying to prove they can stay healthy enough compete with the Warriors throughout the season, but they are not doing a good job of that. Chris Paul is out with knee trouble and Clint Capela will miss at least the next two games with a broken orbital bone.

The Rockets have emerged as the NBA's best team and they are just mauling teams when they get on the court. The Rockets lead the NBA in point differential, outscoring opponents by 11.3 points per game. Without Paul, this team resembles the one from last season when James Harden dominated at point guard and can facilitate and basically spoon-feed his teammates the ball when in the best position to score.

The Celtics started out as one of the league's hottest teams but have cooled off recently. Jaylen Brown is questionable for this game after spraining an ankle Monday, and his absence would almost be a death sentence for an already-thin team.

In situations such as this it is probably prudent to bet on the best player on the court, and that is undoubtedly Harden.

NBA Thursday: Pistons vs. Magic

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3263760, "sportsbooksIds":[238,169,19,43,180], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

Free NBA Pick: Pistons -4.5Best Line Offered: Pinnacle

Orlando is in a major slump, having lost nine games in a row. This slide could have been predictable because the way the Magic were playing at the start of the season was clearly unsustainable. Orlando was shooting and making the most threes in the NBA for a stretch, and a lot of that was coming from Aaron Gordon, who is definitely not known for being a prolific sharpshooter. Not only are the Magic struggling on the offensive end, they also are struggling mightily to stop teams from scoring at will. The Magic give up 110 points per night, making them the league's 27th-ranked defense.

Following the Pistons' hot start, they lost seven games in a row before winning five of their last six. They are trying to get back to their defensive identity that led to so much early season success, although their defense still ranks in the top 10 in opponents points per game at 107. Detroit has the anchor down low in Andre Drummond, and at least one perimeter defensive stopper in Avery Bradley. What they don’t have is a defensive stopper who can check small and power forwards.

One of Detroit's weakest positions is small forward. Stanley Johnson has underperformed, so do not be surprised if Stan Van Gundy goes to rookie Luke Kennard. Kennard is a much better shooter than Johnson, shooting at a clip of 38 percent from 3-point range compared to Johnson's 28 percent.

NBA Thursday: 76ers vs. Trail Blazers

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3263773, "sportsbooksIds":[238,169,19,43,180], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]

Free NBA Pick: 76ers +3.5Best Line Offered: 5Dimes

The Blazers have looked like a team that is ready to pick up where it left off at the end of last season when a healthy Jusuf Nurkic completely changed that team. Nurkic allows the Blazers to run more pick-and-roll action with their two dynamic guards, and the fact Nurkic is a proficient passer allows for them to master dribble handoffs between CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard. Portland is establishing itself as a force to be reckoned in the Western Conference because of that superb guard tandem.

The Sixers finally got themselves a big win on Christmas Day and are trying to live up to their potential and hype from the preseason, but they are still searching for their identity. This young bunch will have to start putting forth more effort on the defensive end. Philly is giving up 108.3 points per game on the defensive end (23rd in the league).

This will be a very interesting matchup between the two big men, Nurkic and Philly's Joel Embiid. Nurkic has the size and foot speed to keep up with Embiid over the course of a game, but where Philly has a mismatch is with point guard Ben Simmons. Simmons will try to use his size to his advantage.

comment here