The NBA season is now in the first week of December. What new events or shifts in the balance of power will occur as the Association moves toward Christmas and then New Year’s Day?
New York Knicks @ Brooklyn Nets
Thursday, 7:05 PM ET
NBA Basketball Betting Odds: Knicks -1.5
The Brooklyn Nets know that Paul Pierce will miss this game due to injury. This could be seen as a negative for the Nets, but then again, it removes one particularly old player from the rotation and could make Brooklyn a bit quicker and younger on the court. The Nets might not have to create as many lineup combinations, which could actually increase their level of effectiveness on the floor. New York has been terrible without big man Tyson Chandler, a player who covers up so many of this team’s defensive weaknesses. The Knicks are a hapless team on defense, and Chandler’s absence also hurts them on the offensive glass as well. New York doesn’t get the extra possessions it needs in order to be effective. This is a team that simply inspires no confidence whatsoever at the moment. Brooklyn is actually the slightly better choice on the point spread, playing at home.
Los Angeles Clippers @ Memphis Grizzlies
Thursday, 8:05 PM ET
NBA Basketball Betting Odds:
On Thursday, this is the game that will test the Memphis Grizzlies’ ability to play a quality team without injured big man Marc Gasol. The Grizzlies have been effective against the Clippers over the years because of their interior size and power. However, with Gasol out of the mix, Los Angeles might have a much better chance to attack the paint on offense and get a lot of foul shots. The Clippers are without shooting specialist J.J. Redick, though, so they’ll be easier for Memphis to defend on the perimeter. Which injury will matter more in this game? Gasol is a more important player for the Grizzlies, so give the advantage to the Clippers on the betting lines, even though they’re playing this game on the road in Tennessee.
Pick: Los Angeles Clippers
Miami Heat @ Chicago Bulls
Thursday, 9:35 PM ET
NBA Basketball Betting Odds: Heat -3.5
On Thursday, this is the game that will show the nation just what the Chicago Bulls are capable of without superstar Derrick Rose. Yes, the Bulls lacked Rose last season, but they’re now trying to re-adjust to life without Rose after the point guard was knocked out for many months (likely the season) with yet another devastating injury. Chicago has struggled to learn how to play without its superstar, and this is precisely what should give Miami a big edge on Thursday. However, Chicago played Miami very competitively last spring in the Eastern Conference semifinals even with Rose off the floor. This could be the game in which Chicago dramatically improves its level of effort on defense and finds various solutions to the “no Rose” problem. You would want to pick Miami in this game, but you should not think that the Heat will have an easy time of it on the road.