Our free NBA picks are out for Sunday, December 26th, 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!
Orlando Magic @ Miami Heat – 3.30pm ET
The Orlando Magic are on the road for one game when they face off against the Miami Heat on Sunday afternoon. The Magic are one of the worst teams in the league, with their record sitting at 7-26, however they have just won two of their last three games. The Heat have won six of their last eight games, which brings their record to 20-13.
The Orlando Magic is having a tough year so far in the NBA, sitting in 14th place with just 7 wins out of 33 matches. The team lacks a superstar and a leader as well. On top of that, for the upcoming game they will be without half of their roster due to injuries and Covid-19 issues. The Magic will have a tough time in Miami as they won’t be able to use R.J. Hampton, Moritz Wagner, Mo Bamba, Terrence Ross, and Jalen Suggs, also Markelle Fultz and Michael Carter-Williams who are injured from the beginning of the season. The team won their last two games on the road against the Brooklyn Nets and the Atlanta Hawks and is looking to defeat yet another team from their Conference.
The Miami Heat are currently 4th in the East with a 20-13 record. They have been showing signs of rebirth this year as they defeated some of the top teams in the NBA. With players like Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, and Bam Adebayo, the team is surely a top contender for the title this year. Moreover, they had the opportunity to give more chances to players like Max Strus, Gabe Vincent, and Omer Faruk Yurtseven in recent games due to the absence of their most valuable players. I think that Miami should have an easy task tomorrow as they will be looking to get their fifth consecutive win in FTX Arena. Hence, I will trust them in covering the spread.
Denis’ NBA Pick: Miami Heat -8.5 (-110)
The Miami Heat have continued to succeed despite injuries to their two stars Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler. A big part of that continued success has been because of Kyle Lowry’s play at guard. Unfortunately, the Heat have now lost him as well, as Lowry has entered COVID protocols. They still have Tyler Herro, Duncan Robinson and breakout talent Max Strus and even better, they get a chance to play one of the NBA’s worst teams in the Orlando Magic.
the gift that keeps on giving
— Orlando Magic (@OrlandoMagic) December 25, 2021
Orlando sits at 7-26, but they have won two of their last three games and just fell short to the New Orleans Pelicans on Thursday. Their two wins came against depleted Brooklyn and Atlanta teams, but they’ll still take the confidence builders, especially as they go up against a hobbled Miami Heat team. Despite a rough season, the Magic have been happy with the performances of youngsters Cole Anthony and Franz Wagner, which has the team excited for the future. That being said, this team has a hard time competing with anyone; sure they’ve had a good track record taking advantage of other team’s injuries, but it’s still going to be hard for them to beat this Heat team at home. I’ll look for big games from Herro and Robinson in this one.
Michael’s NBA Pick: Miami Heat -8.5 (-110)
The Orlando Magic are one of the worst teams in the NBA, and I don’t see that getting better. They don’t have a superstar, and they really don’t have a star to speak of either. The roster is mediocre all the way down the line to start with when they’re healthy, and now they are missing virtually half of those guys due to Covid issues. When we’re dealing with a below average team already, they aren’t a roster that can afford these issues, but they’ve popped up nonetheless.
Now they get a Miami team that is one of the best in the NBA, especially when you consider what they’ve done in the face of adversity. They’ve been without Bam Adebayo for weeks, and they’ve also seen Tyler Herro and Jimmy Butler miss time as well, yet they just keep rolling along. That doesn’t change in this one, as I’m taking the Heat in a big way at home against a brutalized roster that the Magic are throwing out.
Noah’s NBA Pick: Miami Heat -8.5 (-110)
Toronto Raptors @ Cleveland Cavaliers – 6pm ET
The Toronto Raptors hit the road and on Sunday night they take on the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Raptors have had three of their last four games postponed, meaning they have only played once since December 16, but the one game they have played, they did get the win, 119-100, against the Warriors. The Cavaliers had a six game winning streak snapped last time out, against the Celtics, 101-111.
The Toronto Raptors and the Cleveland Cavaliers will take on each other at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse. Surprisingly, the Cavs are ahead of the Raptors with 19 wins and 13 losses. The 2019 NBA champions hold a 14-15 record as it’s clear that they will struggle to make the Playoffs this year. Both teams acquired some of the best rookies as Evan Mobley joined Cleveland, while Scottie Barnes is now part of the Raptors. Moreover, the Cavs will be without Collin Sexton for an indefinite time, but this doesn’t seem to be a problem for them. They won six games in a row before dropping a match against the Boston Celtics on December 23.
The Raptors picked up an important victory in their last match before Christmas against the Golden State Warriors. They took advantage of the fact that their opponent used a lot of bench players as their starters. Fred VanVleet and Scottie Barnes led the way for the Canadian team with 27 points and 21 points respectively. The team was among the best in recent years, but they seem to be going back to the rebuilding stage. In my opinion, the Cavs are favorites here, but since it’s a special part of the year, I won’t be surprised to see a win for the Raptors.
Denis’ NBA Pick: Toronto Raptors (+285)
The Toronto Raptors haven’t played for over a week due to COVID breakouts, but their last game and win came against the almighty Golden State Warriors—who chose to rest all of their best players. So now after a week of rest and their last game being against the replacement Warriors, the Raptors will go up against the NBA’s surprise team the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Cleveland are 19-13 and currently hold the fifth-seed in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately, they’ve lost a few players in the past week to COVID protocols. This includes the likes of Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley and Issac Okoro. The absence of those three was apparent in the Cavs last game against Boston as they lost 101-111. They’re hoping to bounce back against this Raptors team that’s missing quite a few players themselves. When both teams are missing key players it can be hard to predict an outcome, but if you look at who’s available in this one, the Cavaliers have a clear advantage. I expect them to take this one at home.
Michael’s NBA Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers (-335)
The Cleveland Cavaliers continue to impress even without their best player, Colin Sexton, who is out for the year. A lot of people expected them to fall off with the injury, especially seeing as they were already over performing, but that fall off hasn’t happened at all. They sit at 19-13 on the year, and have proven that they are one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference.
On the other hand, Toronto comes in having a roller coaster of a season, as they have wins they shouldn’t have (including beating Golden State in their last game), but have lost a lot of games that they arguably should’ve won. That has backed their record down to 14-15, and they’re going to need a strong run post-Christmas to actually make the postseason this year. As for this one, I’m leaning heavily on Cleveland, as at this point they’ve been the more consistent team all year long and seem to be the safer bet when it comes to this matchup.
Noah’s NBA Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers (-335)
Memphis Grizzlies @ Sacramento Kings – 6pm ET
The Memphis Grizzlies are in the middle of a three game road trip, and on Sunday night they take on the Sacramento Kings. The Grizzlies are currently on a three game losing streak, with losses to the Trail Blazers, Thunder and Warriors. The Kings are on a two game losing streak, and their losses have come against the Warriors and Clippers.
The Memphis Grizzlies and the Sacramento Kings will face each other for a third time this season. The first two games were in favor of the Grizzlies. The first match was from late November and the Grizzlies took a home win, 128-101. In their second meeting, the Kings were quite short-handed due to Covid-19 issues, and the Grizzlies took advantage of that, 124-105. Sacramento won’t be able to use a couple of their players like De’Aaron Fox, Terence Davis, Davion Mitchell, and Marvin Bagley. Richaun Holmes made a return for the Kings, but he will play with goggles for a couple of games due to the severe eye injury he suffered earlier this season.
On the other hand, Ja Morant is back for the Grizzlies as he took part in their last two games. He played around 30 minutes in each of these matches, scoring around 20 points. With the Grizzlies being 4th in the West, this game is a must-win for them. They should find their path back to winning as they lost the last three matches in the NBA. The Grizzlies fell victim to the Trail Blazers, the Thunder, and the Warriors. I think the Kings won’t be able to withstand Ja Morant and his teammates for yet another time this year. Hence, I will suggest picking Memphis’ spread in this match.
Denis’ NBA Pick: Memphis Grizzlies -4.5 (-110)
The Sacramento Kings have lost a number of players to COVID and injuries, and as a result have lost their last two games to the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers. A silver lining in those losses, has been the exceptional play of last year’s first round draft pick Tyrese Haliburton. Halliburton has logged consecutive double-doubles, and looks like he’s ready to take the next step to stardom. The Kings will look to break their skid against a team that’s been on a losing streak of their own in the Memphis Grizzlies.
The gift that keeps on giving!
Best home assists of the year 🎄👑 pic.twitter.com/qxNUpIbcij
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) December 25, 2021
Just a little over a week ago the Grizzlies had won 10 of 11 games—all without star player Ja Morant. When Morant returned from injury the Grizzlies expected to keep the good times rolling, but instead they’ve lost their last three games despite being near full-strength. There’s been some questioning if this team plays better without Morant, but in reality they’re still so young and still figuring out how to properly mesh. We all know this team is full of scorers, but they really need to zero in on defense, as they’re one of the league’s worst teams on that side of the ball. Even with Sacramento missing the likes of De’Aaron Fox, they still have big time scoring talent like Haliburton, Buddy Hield, and Harrison Barnes. I’m not sure if we’ll see an improvement in defense from Memphis in this one, but with the Grizzlies being at full-strength and looking to avoid losing four straight, I’ll pick them to win on the road.
Michael’s NBA Pick: Memphis Grizzlies (-198)
I don’t see what changes in this matchup that would change what the previous two results from these two teams have been. The Memphis Grizzlies are 2-0 against this Sacramento team this year, with one of those being by nearly 30. Now to add on to the struggles that the Kings have faced against Memphis, they’re dealing with Covid issues that have sidelined De’Aaron Fox, Marvin Bagley, and Terence Davis.
Meanwhile, Memphis has gotten Ja Morant back from a knee injury, but that hasn’t helped them since he returned, as they’ve dropped three in a row, with Ja playing in two of those. The key for this Grizzlies team is that the supporting cast has been great for much of the year, led by Desmond Bane and Jaren Jackson Jr, and against a depleted Sacramento roster, I don’t think that stops. Give me Memphis and the points here, as I think they come out and snap their three game skid.
Noah’s NBA Pick: Memphis Grizzlies -4.5 (-110)
Indiana Pacers @ Chicago Bulls – 8pm ET
The Indiana Pacers face off against the Chicago Bulls, who wrap up their four game homestand on Sunday night. The Pacers have won two of their last three games, and this takes their season record to 14-19. The Bulls have won their last two games in a row, against the Lakers and Rockets.
Another classic game that we will watch this weekend in the NBA will be between the Indiana Pacers and the Chicago Bulls. The Pacers managed to avoid this Covid-19 outbreak which helped them gather a couple of wins in the process. The team defeated the Detroit Pistons and the Houston Rockets in their last two home games. However, they were beaten by the Miami Heat on the road, 96-125. The Bulls, on the other hand, are back at full strength after most of their top players got cleared from the health and safety protocols.
The Bulls, however, won their last two matches against the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets. They improved to 19 wins and 10 losses which puts them in 2nd place in the East, right ahead of the Milwaukee Bucks and the Miami Heat. The team performs on a very high level and with both their stars on the court, they are looking even deadlier. I think that if we see Zach LaVine performing at least 75% of his abilities, this should easily go in favor of the Bulls. Hence, I will take Chicago’s spread for this meeting as they are quite superior to their opponent at the moment.
Denis’ NBA Pick: Chicago Bulls 8.5 (-110)
The Indiana Pacers have been one of the league’s most disappointing teams this year. While no one expected them to be a title contender, if you look at their roster, there is just no way they should be 14-19. In their last game they were missing all-star Domantas Sabonis and key player Malcolm Brogdon, but thanks to the likes of Myles Turner, Caris LeVert, and Chris Duarte, the Pacers beat the Houston Rockets 118-106. Both Sabonis and Brogdon are questionable for this matchup, as the Pacers face one of the Eastern Conference’s best teams, the Chicago Bulls.
Chicago will be without defensive wizard Alex Caruso, but will luckily have the rest of their key players available, including Zach LaVine who exited COVID protocols. The Bulls are currently the number two seed in the Eastern Conference and they’ve been playing great basketball on both sides. Even with Caruso out, they will still have LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Lonzo Ball to overpower the Pacers. I expect them to do so at the United Center, whether Sabonis and Brogdon play or not.
Michael’s NBA Pick: Chicago Bulls -8.5 (-110)
Indiana has been one of the most disappointing teams in the league this season, as coming in there was serious speculation that they could be a playoff team that had a quiet possibility of making a decent run in the postseason. However, now, following an offense that is hit or miss, and a defense that seems to be non-existent most of the time, they sit at 14-19, and unless something changes, the only reason they’d possibly make the playoffs is if some teams in the East fade out, opening the door for a below .500 team to slip in as the seven or eight seed.
Chicago comes in as the two seed in the East, and have been one of the more surprising teams in the NBA this year. They’ve been reliant upon the offseason moves they made, featuring them picking up DeMar Derozan and Lonzo Ball, and relying on proven star Zach LaVine to pick up the slack as well, when needed. They hit a brief rough patch where they were dealing with major Covid issues, but now that virtually everyone is back once again, I like this Bulls team to continue their hot play this season, which includes getting a win in this one over a shaky Indiana Pacer squad.
Noah’s NBA Pick: Chicago Bulls -8.5 (-110)
Denver Nuggets @ Los Angeles Clippers – 9pm ET
The final game on Sunday’s slate will see the Denver Nuggets taking on the Los Angeles Clippers. The Nuggets have lost their last two games in a row, which drops their season record to 15-16. The Clippers managed to snap a three game losing streak last time out, with a win against the Kings, 105-89.
Two of the best teams in the West will go head-to-head on Sunday night in the NBA. The Denver Nuggets travel to California to face off the Los Angeles Clippers in the renamed Crypto.com Arena. The Clippers got the news they had been dreading, as they found out that Paul George will be missing for 3-4 weeks yet once again. He will miss the games in January due to torn ligaments in his elbow. The Clippers struggled recently even with PG and Nicholas Batum back in their squad. It seems that Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, and Terrance Mann can’t cope with the responsibilities and they will need some help from the rest of the team.
The Nuggets have been playing at a low level recently as well. They lost their last two meetings to the OKC Thunder and the Charlotte Hornets. Nikola Jokic is doing his best to carry the team without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter, but sometimes things get out of hand. He is putting in some big numbers from the beginning of the campaign and is a decent contender for the Regular Season MVP Award. The team looks inconsistent currently and keeping in mind all these missing players for the Clippers, I think that we might see a really low-scoring game. Hence, I will go with the option for “under points” in this one as I don’t see who can erupt and drive the game in the triple-digit numbers for both teams.
Denis’ NBA Pick: Under 212 (-110)
Right as the Los Angeles Clippers were looking healthy again, things went down the hole. Paul George tore an elbow ligament, and they lost Reggie Jackson and Marcus Morris to COVID protocols. The Clippers have rarely caught a break this year with Kawhi Leonard being out and Paul George’s intermittent playing; still they’ve been able to string together the fifth best record in the Western Conference. The Clippers will look to the likes of veterans Nic Batum and Serge Ibaka to take control while those sidelined players recover.
🌟 1 RETWEET = 2 VOTES 🌟
— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) December 25, 2021
On Sunday, the Clippers face another team that’s had a fair share of injuries in the Denver Nuggets. Luckily Denver has rarely been without their MVP Nikola Jokic, who is having another MVP-worthy season. Even with Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. out, the Nuggets have the conference’s seventh best record. Along with Jokic’s exceptional play, the team has had numerous players step up their scoring including Monte Morris and Jeff Green. Unfortunately Jokic’s supporting cast has been anything but consistent, and the team is hurting without a solidified “number two” on offense. Luckily, they’ll get a bit of a break going up against a Clippers team that’s struggled to stay healthy. Even though the Clippers always have a “next man up” mentality, I don’t see them taking down this Nuggets team that’s looking to bounce back from a loss to the Charlotte Hornets last Thursday.
Michael’s NBA Pick: Denver Nuggets (-168)
The Denver Nuggets have been a bit of an abomination so far this year. They made a great run to the Western Conference Semis last year, and while they are dealing with some injuries this season, they haven’t looked anywhere remotely close to that same team. Last year’s league MVP Nikola Jokic has continued his phenomenal play, but has gotten virtually no help from his supporting cast, and we’re seeing him struggle to lead the team by himself in a wide open, competitive Western Conference.
The Los Angeles Clippers are in a bit of a similar spot, as they finally made a run to the Conference Finals last year, and based on that, they’ve been a disappointment this season. They’ve had to rely heavily on Paul George to lead the way as they wait for Kawhi Leonard to return from a torn ACL, and now it’s just been announced that George is out for at least 3-4 weeks with a torn elbow ligament. That leaves them having to rely on Reggie Jackson, Terence Mann, and Luke Kennard to lead the way, and I’m not optimistic about the ability of those three to actually get this Clippers team on the right track and make a run. Because of the PG-13 injury, give me Denver to win this one, despite the struggles that they’ve had themselves.
Noah’s NBA Pick: Denver Nuggets (-168)
If you are looking for more news, information and predictions, head over to our NBA hub page for all your basketball needs!
*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.