Home | News | Top NBA Betting Picks of the Week – December 18th, 2023

Top NBA Betting Picks of the Week – December 18th, 2023

By Hank Blaine

The Phoenix Suns just can’t have nice things. They have had their superstar Big 3 of Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal and Devin Booker all healthy and on the court for a total of just 24 game minutes this season, and they will not play together for a while as Beal sprained his ankle during Friday’s 139-122 loss to the New York Knicks, exiting in the first quarter before later being ruled out for the rest of the game. X-rays were negative, but we likely will not see Beal again until 2024. Here’s a look at two intriguing early-week NBA matchups and picks.

Top NBA Betting Picks of the Week (December 18th, 2023)

Detroit Pistons vs. Atlanta Hawks

  • When: Monday, December 11th, 2023, 7:00 PM ET
  • Where: Spectrum Center, Charlotte, NC
  • TV: Bally Sports SE-CHA, Bally Sports Sun
  • Radio: 560 The Joe WQAM (Heat) // 92.7 FM WFNZ (Hornets)
  • Stream: NBA League Pass
  • NBA Odds: Heat (-4) // Hornets (+4)

The Pistons enter on a franchise-record 23-game losing streak after being embarrassed 146-114 in Milwaukee on Saturday. The Bucks matched their highest point total of the season and earned their most lopsided victory. They jumped out to a 24-point lead in the first quarter and never looked back as the Pistons matched the NBA’s third-longest skid within the same season. Detroit has joined the 1995-96 Vancouver Grizzlies, 1997-98 Denver Nuggets and 2011-12 Charlotte Bobcats in losing 23 straight within the same season.

The record for the longest losing streak within a single season is shared by the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers and 2013-14 Philadelphia 76ers, who both dropped 26 consecutive games. The 76ers also had a 28-game losing streak that started in the 2014-15 season and carried over to 2015-16. If Coach Monty Williams wasn’t in the first year of a $78 million contract, he’d surely be fired by now.

One of Detroit’s most glaring issues has been their lack of shot-making from behind the arc as they hit just 32.9% from deep, last in the league. After games, former No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham has taken on the responsibility of being a motivator.

“We all hate where it’s gotten,” star Cunningham said Saturday night in the locker room. “We can’t believe that it’s gotten to this point. But it is what it is. We gotta fight through it. That’s one of the main things that I’ve been trying to challenge myself with, is fight through it every day, through bumps, bruises. I don’t want to allow that to take me away from it. I know how hard it is for the group. For everybody, we just need all hands on board. I’ve been trying to personally take that on and just weather the storm. It’s hard, but I don’t want to hide from it. There’s nowhere to hide.”

The Pistons feature one of the youngest rosters in the NBA. Currently the fourth youngest overall, the average age of the roster is 24.8 years old. About the only positive regarding Detroit thus far is that its defense has been effective near the hoop; the Pistons rank 7th in the league with opponents shooting .565 FG% within eight feet of the basket and rank 3rd with a .600 opponent FG% within five feet. Jalen Duren ranks 3rd in the NBA with opponents shooting .476 FG% within six feet of the basket. However, Duren is currently out injured with an ankle issue.

Atlanta is 1-6 in its past seven following a 127-119 loss in Cleveland on Saturday. Trae Young had 35 points and 10 assists for Atlanta, which has dropped six of seven. Dejounte Murray scored 21 points and De’Andre Hunter had 18 points in his return from a three-game absence with right knee discomfort. Center Clint Capela missed his first game of the season and is questionable Monday.

Through 25 games this season, the Hawks have put in 3,601 total points (122.4 ppg), the most total points scored through the first 25 games of a season in franchise history (previously 3,010 total points, 1969-70 season). Monday is the second of three meetings vs. Detroit this season. The Hawks won the first 126-120 in Detroit on Nov. 14. Dejounte Murray recorded 32 points, 10 assists, five rebounds and three steals, becoming just the third player in Hawks franchise history to tally 30+ points, 10+ assists, 5+ rebounds and 3+ steals in a single game, joining Trae Young (2x) and Brevin Knight. The Hawks have won the past five in the series and will make it six Monday.

NBA Betting Pick: Hawks

Memphis Grizzlies vs. New Orleans Pelicans

  • When: Tuesday, December 12th, 2023, 7:30 PM ET
  • Where: American Airlines Center, Dallas, TX
  • TV: TNT
  • Radio: ESPN LA 710 (Lakers) // 97.1 The Freak (Mavericks)
  • Stream: NBA League Pass
  • NBA Odds: TBA

The Grizzlies are one of the NBA’s biggest disappointments but they have not had All-Star point guard Ja Morant yet due to suspension. He will make his return Tuesday. Morant said recently that basketball has been his therapy during his life and that taking the game away made things more difficult. He credited his family, his friends, the Grizzlies and others, as well as therapy, for helping him since NBA commissioner Adam Silver handed down Morant’s second suspension in a four-month span in mid-June.

“It’s definitely some guilt at that,” said Morant, a two-time All-Star who led the Grizzlies with 26.2 points and 8.1 assists per game last season. “Obviously I’m not on the floor and obviously nobody likes losing, so our job is to go out there and get a win. I take full responsibility of that obviously, even though I’m not on the floor. Decisions I made didn’t allow me to be out there to go to battle with my team.”

Morant said that he “can’t go away from being Ja.” Instead, he said he’ll alter his decision-making to be the “best Ja” he can be. When asked how he would describe that shift to convince fans that things will be different now, he said it wouldn’t matter.

“I can’t make anyone believe me outside of my actions,” he said. Morant asserted that he won’t change his attitude on the court. He isn’t forcing a historic comeback game, but he hopes he will be quick to knock off the rust.

He is returning to a far different landscape. The Grizzlies, who were the Western Conference’s No. 2 seed last season, are tied for the second-worst record in the West. The NBA, meanwhile, has paused its promotion of Morant as one of its young superstars, waiting to see what version emerges from this forced hiatus. No word if Morant will be on a minutes limit.

“He wants to win,” teammate Xavier Tillman said. “Think about it — this is a guy my last three years here, we’ve made it to the playoffs all behind his back.”

Morant and Pelicans forward Zion Williamson are both South Carolina natives who were selected second and first overall, respectively, in the 2019 NBA Draft and we don’t get to see them face off that often as they will Tuesday because Zion is usually hurt but is healthy now.

Memphis opened the season with a 111-104 home loss to New Orleans in the only meeting this year. CJ McCollum scored 24 points, and Williamson had 23 points and seven rebounds for New Orleans. Brandon Ingram added 19 points, and Jonas Valanciunas double-doubled with 12 points and 12 rebounds, as all five Pelicans starters scored in double figures. Desmond Bane led Memphis with 31 points, while Marcus Smart tallied 17 points in his Grizzlies debut. Smart is currently out injured. The Pelicans outrebounded the Grizzlies 52-37 and scored all of their 25 second chance points after the first quarter. Memphis was held to just two fast break points.

NBA Betting Pick: Pelicans

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