The NBA season is almost at Christmas Day, meaning that teams are just past the point where they’ve played at least one-fourth of their season’s games. What will the next 20 games bring?
Chicago Bulls @ Oklahoma City Thunder
Thursday, 8:05 PM ET
NBA Basketball Betting Odds: Thunder -12.5
Back in late October, this game promised to be a great one, as Derrick Rose was supposed to lead the Bulls against Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and the rest of the Thunder. This was supposed to be a prime attraction on the NBA calendar on the Thursday before Christmas, a lead-in to the holiday season and a major point of focus. NBA writers and fans were yearning to have this matchup become a box-office sensation. Instead, this matchup has collapsed… because that’s what has happened to Rose’s body as well. Rose is almost surely done for the season with yet another debilitating injury, a sad and lamentable event that has placed the entirety of his career in great jeopardy. The Bulls did a really good job of playing without Rose last season, but this season, they were expecting Rose to be available and on the floor on a regular basis. Too many players overextended themselves and played in unnatural positions last season when Rose was out, and those same players hoped to be able to return to a normal workload with regular minutes and more conventional roles. When Rose went down with the injury, though, a panic mentality set in. Morale plummeted. The ghosts of last season returned with a vengeance, and the realization that the Bulls would have to endure another really long, really difficult journey began to weigh down the whole locker room. Chicago has not done well with Rose out of the lineup, an entirely understandable occurrence. Rose was and is so central to this team’s ability to score. Without him, Chicago just can’t expect to keep pace with Oklahoma City or the other really good offensive teams in the NBA. Take the Thunder on the point spread.
NBA Betting Pick: Oklahoma City
San Antonio Spurs @ Golden State Warriors
Thursday, 10:35 PM ET
NBA Basketball Betting Odds: Warriors -3
This promises to be an interesting matchup of the old versus the new. The mighty San Antonio Spurs, who not only have a lot of great talent that is both old and young, can lay claim to one of the greatest coaches of all time in Gregg Popovich. Will all of these resources matter in this game? Will they determine the final outcome of this contest in Oakland, Calif.? Maybe. Golden State is a team that is struggling at the moment, but the long-term future is still bright. Head coach Mark Jackson is still developing as an NBA tactician, and the Warriors’ amazing draft picks that the franchise either selected or traded for in the last couple of years has paid considerable dividends. This team is dangerous, even without an eye-catching win-loss record. Knocking off an old-guard champion like the Spurs is just what they need to mount a rally as the NBA season works its way toward 2014. San Antonio, though, is catching Golden State at the right time. The Warriors aren’t healthy or whole enough to keep up with the Spurs straight up or on the betting lines.
NBA Betting Pick: San Antonio