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Week 11 started with a day off in the National Basketball League, while we saw five games on Christmas Day, but there plenty of interesting games down the road this week, so we bring you five top games starting from Wednesday, December 26, 2018, along with the most important betting trends and analysis.
Indiana Pacers at Atlanta Hawks – Wednesday, December 16th
The Atlanta Hawks are on a three-game winning streak following a surprising 98-95 road victory over the Detroit Pistons where they were listed as 9.5-point underdogs. However, the Hawks' offensive rating is still 2nd-worst in the NBA with just 103.6 points per 100 possessions, while their net rating is 3rd-worst in the league (-8.8). The Hawks are playing at the fastest pace in the league, averaging 104.9 possessions per 48 minutes, but they are shooting just 44.5% from the field (25th) and 32.6% from beyond the arc (30th), so we can expect to see the end of this winning streak very soon.
On the other side, the Indiana Pacers are currently 3rd in the Eastern Conference and Victor Oladipo is back from a knee injury. After a couple of straight losses to Cleveland at home and Toronto on the road, the Pacers won two games in a row, beating Brooklyn 114-106 and Washington 105-89. They look ready to battle for the top four spots in the conference, so the victory over the Atlanta Hawks is a must. Indiana's defensive rating is the best in the league at the moment (103.0), while the Pacers' net rating is 6th-best in the NBA (+5.6).
This will be the second head-to-head duel of the season between these two teams, and the Pacers have beaten the Hawks 97-89 at home, failing to cover an 11-point spread. The Pacers are 6-1 straight up and just 2-5 ATS in their last seven meetings with the Hawks, while the under is 6-0-1 during that span. I expect to see a convincing victory by the visitors here, and they should improve their ATS stats against the Hawks. Another interesting wager is to pick Indiana and the under to get the wages around +120.
My Pick: Indiana Pacers ATS
Portland Trail Blazers vs. Golden State Warriors – Thursday, December 27th
The Golden State Warriors suffered a heavy 127-101 defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers on a Christmas Day at home, while the reigning champions are 5-3 straight up and just 1-7 ATS in their previous eight games overall. Likewise, the Warriors are 8-3 straight up in their last 11 games on the home court and just 2-9 ATS during that span which is an annoying fact for their backers.
This poor run cannot last forever, and the Warriors will have a nice chance Thursday night to finally get the things going, as they will welcome the Portland Trail Blazers who are stumbling on the road this season and are well-known as a team that performs much better on the home court. The Blazers are 6-4 straight up and 5-5 ATS in their last ten games overall, but they are 1-7 straight up and ATS in their previous eight games on the road. Also, the Blazers suffered a painful 117-96 loss at Utah on the Christmas Day.
The Warriors have already smashed the Blazers this season, beating them 125-97 at Oracle Arena, and I expect to see more of the same on this one. The Blazers will have a mountain to climb to defend against Kevin Durant who scored 32 points in the previous H2H duel, while the Blazers' defensive rating is 18th in the league (111.4), so they should have a difficult time against the best offense in the NBA. The Warriors' are tallying 114.5 points per 100 possessions (1st in the league) on 48.2% shooting from the field (also 1st).
My Pick: Golden State Warriors ATS
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Phoenix Suns – Friday, December 28th
The Phoenix Suns made some quite surprising results over the last few weeks including a huge upset at TD Garden where they overcame the Boston Celtics 111-103 as 11.5-point underdogs. The Suns have dropped their last two games following four consecutive victories, but they are 6-0 ATS during that span. With Devin Booker back on the floor, their offense finally looks competitive, so the Suns could make a couple of more surprises in the further weeks.
However, their next rival has already beaten them three times this season, and the Thunder has covered the spread twice in the process including a 110-100 victory as a 5-point fave at Talking Stick Resort Arena in Phoenix. Hereof, I expect to see OKC getting another convincing victory over the Suns who will play at Orlando Wednesday night, while the Thunder will take a rest after a 113-109 defeat at Houston on the Christmas Day. It was Thunder's second loss in a row, so they need to bounce back and continue with their strong playoff campaign.
The Thunder is allowing just 103.3 points per 100 possessions (2nd in the league) while scoring 109.3 points in a return (19th). Paul George is enjoying a wonderful season, tallying 26.3 points per game on 45.2% shooting from the field, while Russell Westbrook is averaging a triple-double with 20.2 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 10.2 assists per contest. Billy Donovan's boys are playing tough defense and look keen to battle for the top spot in the Western Conference, so I'm backing them to thrash of the Suns once more this season.
My Pick: Oklahoma City Thunder ATS
San Antonio Spurs vs. Los Angeles Clippers – Saturday, December 29th
The Los Angeles Clippers are surely among the pleasant surprises of this NBA season, but there's a long road ahead of Doc Rivers' boys if they want to make it to the post-season. After quite a strong start on the season, the Clippers are just 3-7 straight up in their previous ten games, covering the spread on four occasions, while they are 2-3 straight up and ATS in the last five contests at Staples Center. The Clippers are struggling defensively, allowing 114.6 points per game (25th in the league), but they are scoring 115.6 points in a return (4th).
On the other side, the San Antonio Spurs had a slow start on the season, but they are improving in the last few weeks, and are 7-2 straight up and ATS over their previous nine showings. However, they are still awful on the road, winning just three of their last 13 games away from home, while the over is 8-1-1 in their previous ten outings on the road. The Spurs are averaging 111.3 points per game (13th), allowing 109.5 points in a return (12th).
This will be the third H2H duel of the season between these two foes, and the series is tied 1-1. The Clippers have beaten the Spurs 116-111 at Staples Center, whilst San Antonio has won 125-87 at home. The over is 4-1 in the previous five H2H meetings overall, and it is 6-2 in the last eight duels in Los Angeles, so I suggest you take the points, considering all the stats and betting trends.
My Pick: Over on the totals