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NBA Betting Picks and Analysis Friday, December 20th, 2013
A regional rivalry takes center stage Friday as the suddenly surging Nets head to the City of Brotherly Love to take on the Philadelphia 76ers.
Brooklyn looks to be rounding into at least a playoff contender after their rough start to the season, which has been hampered by injuries. The Nets had won four of out of their last five games before dropping a game to Washington on Wednesday, 113-107. Still, at 9-16 they are in the thick of things in a poor Eastern Conference.
A healthy Paul Pierce should help their cause, as well. The veteran returned from injury a few games ago and exploded for 27 points, a season-high in the loss to the Wizards. He missed just two shots, shooting 10 of 12 from the field.
Defense has also been an issue for the Nets, but not nearly the problem it has been for Philadelphia. The 76ers were the talk of the league after their strong start, but that chatter has faded due to their poor play over the past month. Their young roster has been the worst team in the league defensively, by a large margin. They are giving up 111.2 points per game, last in the NBA.
They gave up 139 points in a 139-105 loss to Brooklyn on Monday, in the first league of a home-and-home. Joe Johnson scored a season-high 37 points in the win for the Nets, and the loss dropped the Sixers to 7-19 on the season.
The loss of Michael Carter-Williams has been significant for Philly. They are just 1-10 without the rookie point guard. He has missed every game of their current six-game slide and is questionable to play in tonight’s contest with a knee infection.
It would be a bonus if Carter-Williams could get himself into the lineup tonight, but I like Philadelphia either way. The revenge factor is big in this one. The 76ers are coming off four days rest while the Nets have had just one night to recoup.
Also, the Nets have, in my opinion, unjustly been given the status of a team that can win on the road all of a sudden. Six points are a lot for a 9-16 team to lay on the road, even if it is against a struggling team like Philly. I love the home dog Sixers in this instant-revenge trend spot.
Pick: 76ers +6
Toronto Raptors at Dallas Mavericks -6.5 Total: 201
The Mavericks have been one of the best home teams in the league this season, and should have another seemingly easy win coming their way this Friday night with the Raptors coming to town.
Dallas is coming off a nice win 105-91 win over Memphis on Wednesday evening. Dirk Nowitzki returned in this contest to post 20 points after missing the Mavs’ last game with a stomach virus.
The win gave Dallas a 15-10 record on the year and their fifth win in the last seven games.
Dallas’ American Airlines Center is one of the toughest places to play in the league with the Mavericks scoring an average 106.5 points per game at home while limiting visitors to just under 89 points in the building.
While Toronto’s season is already likely lost, they have been a strong team since they dealt swingman Rudy Gay to the Sacramento Kings in early December. After winning two games in a row, they almost pulled out a victory against Charlotte on Wednesday but lost to a buzzer-beater by Bobcats guard Kemba Walker.
The man who has stepped up since Gay’s departure has been forward DeMarr DeRozan. He scored 30 in the loss to Charlotte, and has averaged 23.4 points per game since Gay left for northern California.
The Raps’ play since Gay’s trade has been impressive, but they are about to run into a buzz saw named the “Dallas Mavericks at home.” The Mavs have dominated just about everyone they have faced at home this year but have been even better against the Eastern Conference, winning by double-digits on average in five contests against the East.
I think Dallas dominates tonight against the Raptors.
Pick: Mavericks -6.5