Picks for the NBA Week of December 20th
PICKS FOR THE NBA WEEK OF DECEMBER 20th – Christmas Day is coming right around the corner, which means the NBA schedule will get more and more important.
With the week halfway over, let us examine a few games to examine this week and one game that should have everybody on upset alert.
Thursday, December 22nd
Game to Watch: Washington Wizards vs. Utah Jazz
Here’s the thing: there are only two games on Thursday, and the other is Spurs-Pelicans. So, here we go. The Jazz have fallen off after being at the top of the Western Conference, and the Wizards are in the middle of an ugly losing streak despite getting Bradley Beal back on the court against the Lakers.
However, the Wizards defeated this Utah team on November 12, although it was played in D.C. In that contest, Kristaps Porzingis had 31 points and 10 rebounds to lead the way, and Beal didn’t suit up for that game. Things are much different since then, and Beal looked really good in his first action in two weeks as he scored 29 points in LA.
The Jazz should win this game, but beware: If Beal catches fire, the Wizards could finally break this losing streak. Either way, expect a close game, but I’ll roll with the Jazz to win by a few points.
Friday, December 23rd
Game to Watch: Memphis Grizzlies vs. Phoenix Suns
Don’t look now, but this could be a preview of the Western Conference Finals. The Grizzlies are on top of the West for now, and the Suns are hanging around in the half as the top-tier teams all flip-flop seemingly every night in the standings.
Memphis won seven straight to start December before losing to the Oklahoma City Thunder, 115-109. Ja Morant is showing the world why he might’ve been worthy of the No. 1 draft pick, and he is averaging 26.7 PPG, 7.7 assists, and 6.7 rebounds. The Grizz are 6th in the NBA in points per game (116), 1st in rebounds (49.1), and 3rd in blocked shots (5.8).
The Suns have forgotten all about that five-game losing streak that ended last Thursday, and Devin Booker made headlines once again by dropping 58 points against the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night.
This is a special NBA treat with two superstars going against each other – Ja Morant vs. Devin Booker – and the grizzlies squeeze out a tough, gritty road win.
Sunday, December 25th
Game to Watch: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics
Christmas Day has a ton of quality NBA games, and this Bucks-Celtics once is sandwiched right in the middle of the day (5 PM EST tip). The Grizzlies-Suns could be a Western Conference Finals preview, but this Bucks-Celtics is an easy choice for the Eastern Conference Finals preview.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is still one of – if not the best – players in the NBA, and the Celtics’ duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown remains nearly impossible to contain on a nightly basis. Somehow, this is the first matchup of the year between these two teams, and it just so happens to be on Christmas Day (way to go, schedule makers).
With so many stars on each side and both teams right next to each other in the standings, this has extra motivation apart from being a nationally televised game on Christmas Day. Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jayson Tatum could both have monster games, but the Bucks are able to escape with a tough victory.
Upset of the Week
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks
This is another Christmas Day game, and this one is a 2:30 PM EST tip. Two weeks ago, the Lakers would’ve been the easy pick to get the victory, especially with the way Anthony Davis had been playing.
However, the Lakers big man is out for four weeks with another tough injury, and that could be a cause for concern for LA. They lost to the Suns by 26, although both Russell Westbrook and LeBron James didn’t suit up for that game.
Luka Doncic somehow always plays well against the Lakers (he plays well against everybody), and the Mavs should be heavy favorites at home with no AD in the lineup for the Lakers.
But, LeBron James will be ready nonetheless, and Christmas Day always means more to the top players in the game. On a national stage and with even more motivation as he plays without AD, we could see an all-time masterpiece from LeBron in his 20th season in the NBA. Buckle up and get ready, because the Lakers could beat the Mavs in Dallas with LeBron James taking over.