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Top 4 NBA Betting Picks for Tuesday, December 14th (2021)

by December 14, 2021
Mikal Bridges

Well, Stephen Curry didn’t get the record against the Pacers. With him just two away from Ray Allen’s mark of 2,973, it seems like a foregone conclusion that he’ll get it done tonight. As a result, the betting markets for Curry’s record-breaking performance don’t have much value. Tough. Fortunately, I’ve dug up some better values elsewhere.

Here are my top NBA betting picks for Tuesday’s action.

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Written Picks YTD: 54-49-0 (+14.11u)
Model Picks YTD: 52-36-1 (+4.7u)*
*Follow me @is_sirois for the model’s picks. 

1. Suns -1.5 | -110 at DK Sportsbook

Tonight’s game between the Suns and Trail Blazers is a fantastic bounce-back spot for Phoenix, and we’re targeting them to cover against a bad Portland squad. The Suns looked out of sync against the Clippers last night, but they also didn’t have to overwhelm their star players with tons of minutes. Chris Paul played his usual amount, and Mikal Bridges even played less than usual. As a result, I’m not fading them just because of the back-to-back.

But that’s why you shouldn’t fade Phoenix. Here’s why you should play them: they outrank Portland in overall efficiency by a wide margin, and they would have an edge over Portland personnel-wise even if Deandre Ayton has to miss another game. Efficiency-wise, Phoenix ranks fifth offensively and second defensively. In contrast, the Trail Blazers rank 10th offensively and 27th defensively. How does that happen? According to FiveThirtyEight’s RAPTOR ratings, every Trail Blazer with a positive offensive grade has a negative defensive one. Also, their three positive defenders all have negative offensive grades.

Personnel-wise, my NBA betting model believes Phoenix’s active roster yields them a 3.1-point advantage even without Ayton, who is questionable. The model just doesn’t believe Damian Lillard has the game-breaking ability we’re used to seeing from him, which we can probably blame on his lingering abdominal injury.

The recent head-to-head matchups between these teams are a bit confusing. The Suns trounced the Blazers by 10 without Ayton (but Booker and McCollum both played, and neither will tonight) on November 10th in Phoenix. But the Blazers stomped the Suns by 29 on October 23rd in Portland. I’m erring toward the first of those games as to which will have the most predictive power tonight, so I’m happy to take the Suns against such a small spread.

2. Mikal Bridges o12.5 Points | -105 (1.25u) at DK Sportsbook

3. Mikal Bridges o1.5 Made Threes | +150 (.75u) at DK Sportsbook

If the Suns are going to cover, they’ll need a big game from the usual suspects. And while Mikal Bridges has worked as more of a defender than a scorer this season, I’m expecting big things from him against Portland.

The Trail Blazers have been awful at defending opposing threes this year. They surrender a league-worst 24.4 points per game to small forwards, and that number sits at 25.4 for just their last seven games. Much of that production has come from beyond the arc — Portland has allowed small forwards to sink 3.54 triples per game this year, the second-worst rate in the NBA. That number sits at an even worse 3.69 through their last seven games, too.

Also, the Trail Blazers have generally struggled on the perimeter this year. They rank dead last in opposing three-point percentage (38.2%) and give up the fourth-most total treys per game.

We’re targeting these props with a total of two units. Bridges is averaging only 12.3 points per game this year, but he has gone over 12.5 in 15 of his 26 appearances this year. Bridges also averages just 1.3 made threes per game, but he has sunk at least two treys in 11 games — and he posted his season-high (4) against them back in October, which he did in just 26 minutes.

4. Bridges o13.5 PTS + o1.5 3PT + PHX -1.5 | +500 (.1u) at DK Sportsbook

Let’s roll the above insight into a play that’ll net us a half-unit if we wager just .1u. I’m teasing Bridges’ points total up to the highest number he hit against Portland earlier in the year, which is a figure he went over twice against them last year, too.

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Isaiah Sirois is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Isaiah, check out his archive and follow him @is_sirois.

NBA, Picks