Happy Monday. We were slightly in the green on Christmas. The NBA record was 2-3 – and only that thanks to a great second half from the Mavs and an over-granting overtime in Suns-Nuggets. But that was balanced out, plus a little extra, by our CBB parlay, which hit after a one-point Hawaii win in the Diamond Head Classic championship game. We love the Rainbow Warriors. Let’s ride that momentum into this week. But first, a quick recap of the few games that were played yesterday.
- The Knicks looked headed towards a Christmas Day win after a strong first quarter, but the Sixers pushed back in the second and then slowly chipped away until their dominant close in the fourth. Julius Randle continued his strong form for New York, dropping 35, but that was matched by 35 from Joel Embiid. James Harden’s 29 points and 13 assists were ultimately the difference at the top. This does achieve something concrete for Philly; there’s now a 3 game gap between the East’s top 5 and the rest of the conference. For the Knicks, their third straight loss drops them to a half game lead over the top border of the play-in. They’ll have a chance to bounce back with their three-game Texas trip, one that includes two of the worst teams in the league this year, starting tomorrow.
- The Lakers led 54-43 at the half. After a brutal third quarter, they found themselves down 19. Luka, Christian Wood, and Tim Hardaway combined for 88 points for Dallas. LeBron dropped 38 for LA, but this is a team that simply is not going to win games without Anthony Davis. They’re now 2-6 and -68 when he doesn’t suit up. On the bright side, there’s a pretty favorable stretch coming up – @Magic, @Heat, @Hawks, @Hornets, Heat, Hawks. Those are all very beatable teams, regardless of what arena you play them in. With three games already standing between the Lakers and the play-in and a much less favorable stretch covering the rest of January, they’ll need to take advantage of these next six.
- The Bucks were down Khris Middleton in Boston, a now familiar situation for the team, and they unraveled across the second half in a loss. Jayson Tatum was superb for Boston on the way to a 41-point game. The Celtics have won two straight to reopen a 1.5 game lead on top of the East. Milwaukee will be stuck hoping that patience pays off with Middleton. We saw last year that they can give anyone a heck of a series even without him, but there’s no denying the drastic shift in offensive ceiling that his health can provide.
- Props to the Warriors. That was a really impressive win last night against a superior team that probably really wanted to beat them. Donte DiVincenzo’s 19 points were big. So were Klay’s 24. So were Poole’s 32. Relying on Jordan Poole to drop 30+ to be competitive isn’t a great strategy, but that’s essentially where Golden State is without Steph. Luckily, he shouldn’t be out much longer, and there’s still just half a game between them and the play-in.
- The Nuggets outlasted the Suns to close the night. Denver is now 12-3 at home after six consecutive wins there. Nikola Jokic dropped a ridiculous 41, 15, and 15 triple-double, and Aaron Gordon and Jamal Murray combined for 54. Landry Shamet put up 31 points for Phoenix, who also got big double-doubles from Chris Paul and Deandre Ayton in the loss. More important for the Suns than the result was Devin Booker’s four-minute appearance in his return from injury. The groin is re-aggravated, which is less than ideal news for a team that’s 1-4 when Booker doesn’t play and 4-9 since the start of December.
- Creighton cruised past DePaul to get to 8-6. Their 6 win, 6 loss, 2 win start has been all over the place, but this is still a team that’s 2-1 in conference, beat Arkansas, has struggled with some injury issues, and doesn’t really have a bad loss. If they can easily beat the Butlers and DePauls like they have this week and compete against the few good Big East teams, the tourney should be more than achievable.
- Iona picked up a nice win over Pepperdine to get to 9-4 and grab 5th in the Diamond Head Classic.
- Hawaii came back late to knock off SMU and the tournament championship. That’s nine wins in twelve tries for the Rainbow Warriors, and they’re in good position to challenge for the Big West’s auto bid, as we talked about yesterday.
- Utah State moved to 11-2 with a win over Washington State. That’s a good one. Washington State isn’t all that good, but 11-2 is a good place to be entering Mountain West play.
NBA record: 59-60-2 ATS, 14-20 ML, 3-6 O/U, 1-6 parlay, 0-1 props, -22.06 units
- Cavs Nets U220.5
Both teams play at a relatively slow pace, and Cavs games only average 212 points per. The Nets are around 225. I like the under here. Maybe some December 26 rust early on too?
- Timberwolves Heat O221.5
The Heat play pretty slowly, but their games still average about 217 per. The Timberwolves play fast and average about 229 per. I like this one to get over.
- Jazz -4.5
I’ll take Utah here. The Spurs are really bad, and they’ve started to slide again after a brief stretch of more competitive play.
- Pacers Pelicans U234
This is a ton of points. I don’t think they get there with Brandon Ingram out.
- Trail Blazers Hornets U237
This is a massive amount of points. Take the under. The Blazers average just 224 points per. The Hornets are at 229. Defenses don’t exist in this one, but they shouldn’t get to 237.
CBB record: 38-43-1 ATS, 3-8 ML, 4-2 O/U, 4-2 parlay, -7.1 units
No games tonight