So, it appears the Brooklyn Nets are pretty good. It's going to be tough to fade them moving forward, but as we know as bettors we can't overreact to one game.
Meanwhile, the Clippers looked very strong last night vs the Lakers and it seemed clear that the bubble experience left a bad taste in their mouths. Again, it's just one game but there were two statements made on Opening Night. Now it's time to get back on the horse for tonight, and we have a big 13-game slate to pick from.
If you want even more betting plays, then check out what we're doing over at SI PRO. Members can get exclusive updates and betting plays from the Vegas Whispers whenever information arrives in our Discord chat. The official Vegas Whispers information has gone 207-138-3 against the spread overall, and including "unofficial plays" delivered exclusively to members in the Discord, the documented plays are 242-158-6 ATS and it's less than $20 a month. Did we mention it includes DFS content too?
Best Bet for Wednesday, December 23rd
Atlanta Hawks vs Chicago Bulls (+1.5) Total: 231.5
Two of my favorite young teams in the league start the season against each other. The Hawks spent the offseason bringing in talented veterans to place around third-year superstar Trae Young, and the moves they made have fans believing they can compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference this season.
The Bulls made a change in the offseason as well firing head coach Jim Boylen and hiring Billy Donovan. I think the move the Bulls made is better than the moves made by the Hawks. Atlanta will take some time to mesh, and I can see them getting off to a slow start out of the gate. This game opened with Atlanta as a 1-point road favorite, and I almost jumped out of my skin running to log on to bet the Bulls. The public on the other hand are in on the new-look Hawks with this line moving up to Atlanta -2.5 but sharp money hit the number driving it back down to -1.5.
Last season the Bulls beat Atlanta all three times the two teams played, all three Bulls victories were by double-digit points. I will be dripping on the moneyline in addition to the Bulls plus the points.
Best Bet: Bulls +1.5
Games I Like
Utah Jazz vs Portland Trail Blazers (-1) Total: 226
The Trail Blazers and Jazz tip-off their season tonight in Portland, and each team comes into the season with high expectations. Both Utah and Portland qualified for the playoffs last season in a tough Western Conference. The Jazz were in the mix all season, and the Trail Blazers got hot in the bubble and look to carry that same energy into this season. A healthy Trail Blazer team will be a trendy pick in the West.
The Utah Jazz on the other hand seems to be an overlooked team, but they were just a shot away from eliminating the Nuggets in Orlando. This game opened up with the Trail Blazers as a 1-point home favorite, and that line has held steady as a slight majority of the betting public has fallen on the side on the Jazz. Last season, Utah won the season series vs the Trail Blazers, and the game Portland won, Damian Lillard went for 51 points. Dame can put up a huge game at any time, and I think that's what it will take. As Lillard goes so do the Trail Blazers, but the Jazz are a more complete team. Don't sleep on Utah; I like them to get the road win tonight.
The Pick Utah Jazz +1
New York Knicks vs Indiana Pacers (-8) Total: 212
I can't believe I'm about to do this, because I don't know how many time I have sworn off betting on the New York Knicks. I have had some horrible bad beats at the hands of the Knicks. But I have to be honest coming into the season. I feel better about the Knicks than I have in decades. That's correct, decades.
The Knicks were yet again one of the worst teams in the league last year, but they were not that bad ATS. They covered the number in 53% of their games, making them a profitable team. Tonight New York is an 8-point underdog vs. the Indiana Pacers. The public is betting the Pacers but money is coming in on the Knicks and will likely close at Knicks +7.5.
Both the Knicks and Pacers come into the season with new head coaches. Tom Thibodeau is a proven culture builder, and if anything the Knicks will play hard tonight. The Pacers in a controversial move fired head coach Nate McMillian after they left the bubble and replaced him with Toronto assistant Nate Bjorkgren. Hopefully, this won't be the start of me saying, "I'm never betting on the Knicks again."
The Pick: Knicks +8
Big Trouble in H-Town
Oklahoma City Thunder vs Houston Rockets - The Rockets are imploding, James Harden may have been spotted maskless at a gentlemen's club, due to contact tracing they may have a hard time trying to put a team on the court tonight. I'm not touching this game.
LaMelo Ball NBA Debut
Charlotte Hornets vs Cleveland Cavaliers (+3) - The Hornets are being backed by the public in this game, not because of the injury to Kevin Love, its because the public wants to watch and support LaMelo Ball, I like the Cavs and I would put a few dollars on Darius Garland Over 12.5 points.
Milwaukee Bucks vs Boston Celtics (+4) - Tonight's big-time nationally televised game features Eastern Conference contenders. I typically do not bet on these big-time TV games because these are heavily bet on and the lines become shaded. This game opened up with the Celtics as a 2-point home dog, they have been bet up to a 4-point dog. If I was to bet on this game, I would wait until right before tip-off and get the best number on the Celtics.
League Pass Game of the Night
Dallas Mavericks vs Phoenix Suns (-1) -This should be a great basketball game. Luka Doncic and the Mavericks vs the Suns and Devin Booker, Chris Paul joins the young Suns who went undefeated in the bubble, these are two of the best young teams in the Western Conference, I like this game a lot for DFS stacks, If I was to place a bet on this game it would be over 233.
DFS Plays - Wednesday, December 23rd
Benny Heis' DFS Sleeper Play - Nikola Vucevic ($8,200) - Magic C
Figuring out who to start at center tonight on DraftKings is not an easy choice. Giannis Antetokoumpo ($10,200) has PF/C status, Towns, Embiid and Jokic are all priced between $9,600-$9,800), and Andre Drummond with no Kevin Love provides elite value at $8,000 to gobble up rebounds vs the Hornets.
Vucevic ($8,200) draws a theoretically tough matchup inside against Bam Adebayo and the Miami Heat at home, but the big man will be featured all over the court with his improved three-point shooting, even with the prospect of 8+ 3-points attempts per game. If Vooch adds that dimension to his game, he could be nearly unstoppable from anywhere on the court, to go along with just under 11 boards, four assists and a steal and block each game.
Additional Tournament Targets
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander - $7,500 - OKC PG
Dejounte Murray - $5,600 - Spurs PG
Bogdan Bogdanovic - $5,000 - Hawks SG
Lauri Markkanen - $4,800 - Bulls PF
Jerami Grant - $4,700 - Pistons SF/PF
Wendell Carter - $4,400 - Bulls C