NBA Expert Picks and Best Bets | December 28

Bryan Zarpentine pic
Bryan Zarpentine
NBA Best Bets 2023-2024

A busy holiday week for the NBA gets even busier on Thursday night with a full schedule of games on the docket. There are eight games on the schedule, including some fascinating matchups that could go either way. Given some of the tight lines, we thought we’d offer some basketball betting advice by sharing our three favorite picks for Thursday’s NBA games.

Detroit Pistons vs Boston Celtics Best Bet:

Celtics -17 | -110 at FanDuel

Detroit’s losing streak is getting out of control, and one could argue this spread is as well. That being said, the Pistons are showing no signs of improvement, so we’ll swallow the points and back Boston to cover. In addition to being the worst team in the NBA, the Pistons are just 10-19-1 against the spread, which is the second-worst ATS record in the league. In fact, they’ve beaten the spread just twice in their last 10 games, so things are not trending in the right direction for Detroit.

Against an elite team like the Celtics, the Pistons are liable to get blown out by far more than 20 points, especially on the road. The Celtics have won eight of their last nine games, going 7-2 against the spread during that stretch. They’ve also had a couple of days to recuperate after their West Coast road trip, which ended with a Christmas Day win over the Lakers. With everything going Boston’s way at the moment, look for the Celtics to have fun in this game and enjoy blowing out the lowly Pistons.

FanDuel Sportsbook
Celtics -17 | -110 at FanDuel

Indiana Pacers vs Chicago Bulls Best Bet:

Bulls +2.5 | -110 at BetMGM

Chicago’s 14-18 record is a little misleading because the Bulls have gone 5-2-1 against the spread as a home underdog. In fact, they’re 5-2 in their last seven games with four of those wins coming as an underdog. While Zach LaVine remains sidelined, the Bulls have figured out how to play without him with players like Coby White stepping up in his absence. 

On the flip side, the Pacers find themselves in a bit of a funk. Indiana’s defensive shortcomings are starting to hurt the Pacers with the team’s potent offense slowing down just enough to cost them games. Even with a win Tuesday in Houston, the Pacers are just 2-6 in their last eight games. While they’re averaging over 126 points per game on the season, they’ve been held to 110 points or less in three of their last six games. That’s a huge drop-off and not something that Indiana can withstand with its defense, making the Bulls an excellent underdog pick on Thursday night.

BetMGM Sportsbook
Bulls +2.5 | -110 at BetMGM

Utah Jazz vs New Orleans Pelicans Best Bet:

Under 237.5 | -112 at BetRivers

The over/under for this game suggests a shootout, but it doesn’t seem like both of these teams are clicking on all cylinders offensively at the moment. Granted, Utah has hit the over six times in its last nine games. But many of those games have been against subpar competition. That’s made it easy for the Jazz to play loose and push the tempo. But they won’t be able to do that in New Orleans, which will ultimately hurt their bottom line.

Meanwhile, New Orleans has been suffering from inconsistency lately. The Pelicans have been held below their season average in four of their last six games. They’re also 4-6 O/U this season when the over/under is 230 points or more. Given their recent track record, that puts the over/under for Thursday’s game a little out of reach, especially since the Jazz are averaging fewer points per game on the season than they are.

Under 237.5 | -112 at BetRivers

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