Our free NBA picks are out for Friday, December 31st, 2021! Make sure you check our NBA picks before the action kicks off.
Look below to find our free NBA picks for the best five games on today’s schedule!
Phoenix Suns @ Boston Celtics – 1pm ET
The Phoenix Suns kick off a three game road trip on Friday afternoon when they take on the Boston Celtics. The Suns managed to snap a two game losing streak last time out, with a win against the Thunder, 115-97. The Celtics are currently on a three game losing streak, with losses to the Bucks, Timberwolves and Clippers.
The Phoenix Suns will try to take advantage of the Warriors’ wrong step against the Nuggets and take back the top spot in the Western Conference. Their opponents will be the Boston Celtics who are playing really inconsistent from the beginning of the season. The team from Massachusetts isn’t that bad, but they are currently 10th in the East with 16 wins and 19 losses. They have fantastic players like Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Dennis Schroder. However, most of them were unable to compete at the same time on the court for the Celtics due to different injuries and regulations. For instance, Tatum and Schroder are not yet cleared out of the health and safety protocol and they will miss the upcoming home game.
The Suns are still looking for their maiden title in the NBA. They came close to winning the Championship three times, but came up short each single one of them. The most recent moment was from last year when they were outplayed by the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals. Now, they are even more determined as Chris Paul knows that 2022 might be his last chance at winning a Ring. The team has been performing on a high level from the start of the campaign, setting a new franchise record for 18 straight wins. For me, they are a complete team that just needs to be healthy when it comes time for the Playoffs. In my opinion, the Suns will have a record Regular Season, staking more than 65 wins. So, such games in which they are able to use most of their roster, whilst the opponent is shorthanded, should be won without any big contest. Hence, I will go with them covering the spread in TD Garden.
Denis’ NBA Pick: Phoenix Suns -3.5 (-112)
— Boston Celtics (@celtics) December 30, 2021
The Boston Celtics were thrilled to get a majority of their role players back from COVID protocol this week, only to lose their star player Jayson Tatum to the same protocols. Now they’ll rely heavily on Jaylen Brown and supporting players like Al Horford and Robert Williams to take on the challenging task of playing the Phoenix Suns.
The Suns didn’t exactly have the merriest of Christmases, as they lost to their rival Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day at home, only to follow that up with a one-point loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on the 27th. Luckily they got back on track on Wednesday with a 115-97 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Unfortunately the team will be without some key pieces in their matchup against the Celtics as they’re expected to be without centers Deandre Ayton and Javale McGee, as well as head coach Monty Williams. Still, as long as they have point guard Chris Paul, shooting guard Devin Booker and their always reliable bench talent, the Suns are still in good shape against a Celtics team that’s missing Tatum. I’ll pick Phoenix and their top ranked offense to take care of business at the TD Garden.
Michael’s NBA Pick: Phoenix Suns (-156)
Chicago Bulls @ Indiana Pacers – 3pm ET
Two Central Division rivals will go at it on Friday afternoon, when the Chicago Bulls take on the Indiana Pacers. The Bulls are currently on a five game winning streak, which takes their season record to 22-10. The Pacers have lost two games on the trot, losing to the Bulls and Hornets.
The Chicago Bulls and the Indiana Pacers will face each other for yet another time this season. They have played twice already as both of them got a win. Their first meeting in the United Center produced one of the most surprising outcomes in the NBA this season. The Pacers’ defense held the Bulls under 80 points, while on the offensive side, five of their players finished off with double figures. The game ended 77-109 with both DeRozan and LaVine playing for the Bulls in this defeat. Domantas Sabonis had a huge night dropping 21 points and adding 11 rebounds. Myles Turner also posted a double-double (12 points and 10 rebounds), but he was also clutch in defense with his 4 blocks. Overall, the Bulls were tragic from the field with Lonzo Ball shooting 0-7.
In their second meeting, Chicago took revenge, defeating the Pacers, 113-105. This was actually both teams’ first game after Christmas’ Eve. This match was quite different due to one single factor. And although LaVine dropped 32 points and DeRozan added 24 more, I would still say that they were not the driving force for this change. In my opinion, the absence of Nikola Vucevic in the first match took its toll on the Bulls as there was nobody who can deny Sabonis and grab the rebounds from the missed shots in offense. The center ended up with 16 points, 15 rebounds, 2 steals, and 2 blocks on a 70% performance from the field. My expectations are that he will once again come in clutch for his team and lead them towards a double-digit win over the Pacers.
The Chicago Bulls continue to blossom into one of the NBA’s top teams, as they’re excelling on both sides of the basketball. On offense they may just have the top scoring combo in the league right now as DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine have been electric. They’ll look to continue their run of hot play on New Year’s Eve against an Indiana Pacers team who they had a 113-105 win over last Sunday.
Indiana continues to be one of the NBA’s most disappointing teams this year as they’re currently sitting at 14-21, despite having loads of talent on their roster. Things won’t get any easier for them on Friday as they face a very good Bulls team, with starters Malcolm Brogdon and Chris Duarte sidelined in COVID protocols. Without these two individuals it’ll be hard for the Pacers to keep up with this Bulls squad. Sure, at home they have a shot, but with the way the Bulls have been playing, the Pacers don’t appear to be the kind of team to slow them down.
Michael’s NBA Pick: Chicago Bulls -3.5 (-112)
Miami Heat @ Houston Rockets – 7pm ET
The Miami Heat hit the road on Friday night and they take on the Houston Rockets. The Heat are currently on a four game winning streak, with wins against the Pacers, Pistons, Magic and Wizards. The Rockets have lost five games in a row, and this drops their season record to 10-25.
The Miami Heat are one of the hidden favorites for the NBA Championship coming from the East. They have quite a complete team that added more and more players in recent days to their rotation. Gabe Vincent and Max Strus had the opportunity to lead the team when it was missing Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, and Tyler Herro. One can only imagine what would happen to their opponents if the current roster is 100% healthy, their bench players get a lot of minutes throughout the season gaining on-court experience, and Victor Oladipo recovers from his muscle injury. This team might turn into a top contender for the title when the time for the Playoffs come. Now, they are sitting in 4th place with a 22-13 record, while most of the team is still unable to play either due to injuries or to COVID-19 restrictions.
The Rockets, on the other hand, enjoyed a good run coming into December, winning 7 matches in a row. Now, the team is in shambles as they try to recover from a 5-game losing streak. Their ambitions and expectations are not high for this season as they are starting to build a team from scratch. The Rockets are last in the West with 10 wins and 25 losses and have one of the worst total points difference records. The team, however, proved that they can take advantage of the current circumstances, defeating the likes of the Brooklyn Nets and the Chicago Bulls. However, even without a significant number of their starters, Erik Spoelstra found a way to organize his team as they are coming into this game with 4 straight wins. I think this streak will continue and the Heat should surely come out on top in the end.
Denis’ NBA Pick: Miami Heat -4.5 (-114)
Evening work. 💼 pic.twitter.com/UCt1eJO7vj
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) December 30, 2021
The Rockets may only be 10-25, but they’ve had plenty of thrilling offensive games this year, which bodes well for their future. In their 123-132 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Rockets got 24 points from top-three pick Jalen Green, and 22 points from both Kevin Porter Jr. and Christian Wood. They’ll hope to keep the offensive fireworks coming on New Year’s Eve as they host the Miami Heat.
The Miami Heat have been battling injuries and COVID protocols, but that hasn’t gotten them down. Despite Bam Adebayo being out injured and Kyle Lowry being sidelined in protocols, the team was thrilled to get Jimmy Butler back from injury, as they’ve now won four straight games. They’ll look to get their fifth straight win against this young Rockets squad as they’re hungry to sit in fourth place in the Eastern Conference. I’m tempted to pick the Rockets because of how exciting their offense can be, but Miami has an incredible “next man up” mentality, and I expect them to trouble the Rockets with their defense.
Michael’s NBA Pick: Miami Heat (-200)
San Antonio Spurs @ Memphis Grizzlies – 8pm ET
The San Antonio Spurs kick off their road trip on Friday night when they take on the Memphis Grizzlies. The Spurs had their three game winning streak snapped last time out, with a loss to the Jazz, 104-110. The Grizzlies continue to build, they are currently on a three game winning streak, and their season record stands at 22-14.
The San Antonio Spurs will have a tough visit to Memphis in their last game for 2021. The Grizzlies have been flying high from the start of the season, putting in some great performances against the top teams in the League. They are currently 4th in the West with 22 wins and 14 losses. The team comes into this fixture after getting three straight wins with Ja Morant returning to the spotlight. He dropped 41 points and equaled his career-high of six 3-pointers against the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday. Even without Dillon Brooks and De’Anthony Melton, the team manages to keep their good run. Desmond Bane has been one of the most improved players this season as this is the second season for the 23-year-old shooting guard.
The San Antonio Spurs are quite an unpredictable team. They are capable of defeating some of the toughest opponents in the NBA and at the same time, they can get whitewashed like rookies. The team is in a rebuilding stage and their goal would be to make the Spurs-nation proud once again in the upcoming years. They have some solid players like Derrick White, Dejounte Murray, and Keldon Johnson, but they will surely need to appoint a leader. Jacob Poeltl is one of the most underrated centers in the NBA who is doing a fantastic job for San Antonio. I think that there will be a lot of points in both halves and the line for the “over points” should be covered easily.
The Memphis Grizzlies are evolving into one of the league’s most thrilling teams. Their young core of Ja Morant, Desmond Bane, and Jaren Jackson Jr. got a big 114-113 win over the Phoenix Suns on Monday as they further proved they’ll be a force to be reckoned with for years.
Tonight, the Grizzlies face a Spurs team that’s looking to form a successful young core themselves. They’ve seen impressive growth from Dejounte Murray, Keldon Johnson, and more. Unfortunately it’s uncertain if Murray will be able to play in this one due to COVID protocols, but the team has still had offensive success without Murray scoring 144 points against the Pistons and then 104 against the Utah Jazz. As thrilling as the Grizzlies are on offense, they’re pretty awful at defense.
Michael’s NBA Pick: San Antonio Spurs +7 (-110)
Minnesota Timberwolves @ Utah Jazz – 9pm ET
The Minnesota Timberwolves kick off a three game road trip on Friday night when they take on the Utah Jazz. The Timberwolves have lost three of their last four games, and this takes their season record to 16-18. The Jazz are currently on a five game winning streak, with wins over the Hornets, Timberwolves, Mavericks, Spurs and Trail Blazers.
In one of the last matches before New Year’s the Minnesota Timberwolves will travel to Salt Lake City to face off the Utah Jazz. After suffering two unpleasant home losses before Christmas, the Jazz are once again on top of their form. They won their last 5 games against the Hornets, the Timberwolves, the Mavericks, the Spurs, and the Blazers. Utah might not have faced much trouble in winning these contests, but a concerning factor for them is the fact that they are allowing a lot of points on average. In most of their matches this season, they cannot hold the opposing side below 100 points. This is understandable due to their offensive approach and fast build-ups in attack, but they will really need to start working on that as well. They are 3rd in the West with 25 wins and 9 losses and they are closing the gap to the Suns and the Warriors with each single day.
The Timberwolves, however, are a pretty interesting team. They have a fantastic duo up front consisting of Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russel, and Anthony Edwards. Minnesota also has decent players in defense including Jarred Vanderbilt, Patrick Beverley, and Jade McDaniels. In my opinion, they are favorites to clinch one of the last spots for the Playoffs, but the Kings and the Blazers haven’t said their last word. The Timberwolves had to deal with some COVID-19 related issues as all of their top three players have entered the health and safety protocols already. I think this might be decisive for the outcome of the game and I will trust the Jazz to cover their spread. However, I also expect a huge game for Anthony Edwards who will make his return after contracting COVID-19.
Denis’ NBA Pick: Utah Jazz -10.5 (-110)
Denis’ NBA Bonus Pick: Anthony Edwards – Over 23.5 Points (-106)
the greatest shooting big man ever
— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) December 30, 2021
The Minnesota Timberwolves have been an exciting young team to watch this season thanks to the likes of Anthony Edwards, Karl Anthony Towns, and D’Angelo Russell. Unfortunately, due to COVID cases, the three of them haven’t had many opportunities to play together lately. As of now, all three are listed as out, but Edwards and Anthony Towns are likely game-time deductions. The Wolves hope to have them back as they take on one of the league’s top teams, the Utah Jazz.
Utah is currently sitting pretty at 25-9, including big wins against the San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trail Blazers, without star guard Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell should be back against Minnesota, but the team lost veteran guard Mike Conley to COVID protocols. Still getting Mitchell’s scoring touch will be huge as they face an uncertain T-wolves roster. I’ll pick Utah to cover this one and gain their 26th win.
Michael’s NBA Pick: Utah Jazz -10.5 (-110)
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.