Only a handful of NBA games on the slate tonight, but we do have one of the biggest games of the year thus far when MVP candidate LeBron James takes his Lakers into Milwaukee to face MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks.
Utah Jazz vs. Atlanta Hawks: Hawks +6.5, Over 225
Talk about two teams going in opposite directions. The Hawks, who are in the midst of a five-game losing streak, only have two wins in the month of December. Things hit rock bottom earlier this week when they lost to the pitiful Knicks by 23 points. The Jazz, on the other hand, have won three in a row and four of their last five. Utah will be without Mike Conley tonight as he is dealing with a hamstring injury. Some shops opened this game up at Jazz -5.5, but the number has bounced all over the place. Currently, the Hawks are getting 6.5, but I think this number will go up to 7.
Eight out of 10 tickets on this game back the Jazz, but there have been a couple of sharp money plays on Atlanta. The Hawks play better against the spread at home and tonight I expect them to play well for head coach Lloyd Pierce, who is rumored to be on the hot seat. The total opened up at 224 and has since been bet up to 225.5—that line movement was caused by heavy sharp money. The Jazz are 7-3 O/U in their last 10 games. I think the Hawks keep it close tonight, so I like the over in the first game of the slate.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Milwaukee Bucks: Lakers +4
The two best teams in the league meet tonight at the Fiserv Forum. Both teams have MVP candidates, both teams have nice pieces to mesh with their big-name players, both teams have had long winning streaks this season and both teams have championship aspirations. The Bucks are great at home, while the Lakers are great on the road. There are not many ways to handicap this and find a clear advantage, except for one thing: Los Angeles is catching points. LeBron and company will be favorites most nights, maybe they will be underdogs again next week when they play the Clippers, so this is one of the few times you can catch points with a team as good as the Lakers, so we can't pass up on this.
Season Record: 41-39