Our free NBA picks are out for Sunday, January 2nd, 2022! 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!
Indiana Pacers @ Cleveland Cavaliers – 6pm ET
Two Central Division opponents clash on Sunday night when the Indiana Pacers face off against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Pacers are looking to snap a three game losing streak in this game, as they have lost to the Bulls (twice) and Hornets. The Cavaliers are also on a three game losing streak, and this drops their season record to 20-16.
Two of the teams who have faced the harsh reality recently losing their last three games will face each other on Sunday night in the NBA. The Indiana Pacers will travel to Cleveland to face the Cavaliers who have had an amazing season so far, excluding the last couple of matches. The Cavs are surprisingly 5th in the table with 20 wins and 16 losses. They are now without two of their stars, Collin Sexton and Ricky Rubio. This will surely take its toll at a certain point in time and I doubt that they will be able to make the Playoffs, although they might have fantastic players like Kevin Love, Jarrett Allen, and Darius Garland. Garland will also miss the game against the Pacers due to being placed into the health and safety protocols.
The Pacers, on the other hand, are having huge troubles this season. They are probably the last team that will have a shot at the Playoffs as they are 13th with a 14-22 record. They have been playing good offense in their most recent matches, but their strength, which is their defense, crumbled. Caris LaVert dropped 27 points in each of his last three appearances, adding to that a significant number of rebounds and assists. The Pacers are without some of their top players including Malcolm Brogdon and Chris Duarte. I think that this game might be a close one, but for me, this will be one of the last wins for the Cavs before going on a big downhill slope in January.
Denis’ NBA Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers (-162)
✈️ on the road to start 2022. pic.twitter.com/TwxIIYBJcn
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) January 1, 2022
The Indiana Pacers will hit the road to play the Cleveland Cavaliers in this one. Indiana is coming into this game with a record of 14-22 on the season. They have had a rough go of things in a surprisingly competitive Central Division so far this year, as teams like Chicago, Milwaukee and Cleveland have stood out as potential playoff teams. Indiana will be looking to break a three game losing streak with a victory in this game on the road in Cleveland. The Pacers will need to string some wins together soon if they want to reign in the playoff chase in the Eastern Conference.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are coming into this game with a record of 20-16 on the season. They have been shockingly competitive as not many people expected them to currently be occupying a playoff spot. However now they are without Ricky Rubio, it will be time to see if they can sustain their current level of play as the season progresses. As for the result of this game, I have the Cavs picking up the victory in this game against Indiana at home.
Tony’s NBA Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers (-162)
Miami Heat @ Sacramento Kings – 6pm ET
The road trip continues on for the Miami Heat, and on Sunday night they travel to Sacramento and take on the Kings. The Heat are currently first in the Southeast Division, with a record of 23-13, and they are currently on a five game winning streak. The Kings have won two of their last three, with wins over the Thunder and Mavericks.
The Miami Heat will play the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night as they are coming into this fixture on a 5-game winning streak. The Heat might have gone through a lot of troubles recently, but they have never lost their focus. The team had to deal with the fact that some of their top players have been missing due to COVID-19. Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler were also out due to injuries. Now, most of their bench players are sidelined due to entering the health and safety protocols of the NBA. Even after all of that, the team kept their place in the top 4 and not only that, but they have the same number of wins as the leader from the East, the Chicago Bulls.
The Sacramento Kings have also been quite shorthanded for a couple of games before Christmas. They found a way to cope with that as they defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Dallas Mavericks at home. However, their performance is far away from that of a Playoffs contender team. The Kings still keep a close gap between themselves and the top 10 as they are just outside of it with 15 wins and 22 losses. The team has a huge potential and right now, they will need to make the most out of the fact that they are almost 100% healthy and ready to play. All in all, I somehow doubt that they will be able to defeat the Heat with Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, and Kyle Lowry. Hence, I will go with the team from the East this time.
The Miami Heat come into this game with a record of 23-13 on the year. Miami currently finds themselves in fourth place of the Eastern Conference, and in first place of the Southeast Division as well. They are currently on a five game winning streak heading into the new calendar year. This game against Sacramento will be the second game of a lengthy six game road trip that is mostly West Coast based. As a part of this trip Miami will also make stops in Phoenix and Golden State, in some tough games.
The Sacramento Kings are coming into this game with a record of 15-22 on the year. They are quickly falling behind in an ultra competitive division that includes the previously mentioned Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns. Sacramento has had a rough season up until this point and are currently in 11th in Western Conference. In their last game they were pretty easily handled by the Dallas Mavericks. As for the result of this game, I don’t expect it to get better for the Kings, as I have the Miami Heat picking up the victory in this one.
Tony’s NBA Pick: Miami Heat (-144)
Phoenix Suns @ Charlotte Hornets – 7pm ET
The Phoenix Suns are in the middle of a three game road trip, and on Sunday night they will take on the Charlotte Hornets. The Suns have lost three of their last four games, with their only win coming against the Thunder, 115-97. The Hornets are currently on a three game winning streak, with wins over the Nuggets, Rockets and Pacers.
Surprisingly, the Phoenix Suns are on a 1-3 run recently. After the loss against the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day, they were outclassed by the Memphis Grizzlies in their next game and by the Boston Celtics in the most recent meeting. Somewhere in-between these games, they were able to punish the Oklahoma City Thunder by 18 points, 115-97. The team from Arizona is now really close to the 3rd place of the Utah Jazz who are just a couple of wins away from them. The Suns will surely need to find a way out of the current situation at least until Deandre Ayton and Jae Crowder make their return for Monty Williams.
The Charlotte Hornets are coming into this fixture on a 3-game winning streak after defeating the likes of the Denver Nuggets, the Houston Rockets, and the Indiana Pacers. They outplayed the Nuggets even though Nikola Jokic ended up with a monstrous double-double (29 point and 21 rebounds). Terry Rozier has been playing really well after Christmas and overall, the team has been doing pretty good in offensive positions. LaMelo Ball dropped a couple of double-doubles recently which further helped his team overcome the obstacles. Now, the Hornets are 7th in the East with 19 wins and 17 losses which might come as a surprise to some people. They are really aiming at the Playoffs this season and although there is a great competition in their Conference, I am confident that they have a high chance at making it. However, in this game I would have to go with the Suns as I don’t believe that Devin Booker and Chris Paul will allow yet another loss.
Denis’ NBA Pick: Phoenix Suns (-146)
— Charlotte Hornets (@hornets) January 1, 2022
The Phoenix Suns are coming into this game with one of the league’s best records as they are currently 27-8 through their first 35 games on the season. As the season approaches the halfway mark it is fair to say the Phoenix Suns have made their case as to why they are one of the best teams in the league and that last year’s finals run wasn’t anything close to a fluke. As of right now it looks like they are headed for a showdown in the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors. The Suns will be looking to break a skid in this one as they have lost three of their last four games.
The Charlotte Hornets are coming into this game with a record of 19-17 on the season as LaMelo Ball has them playing above their punching weight so far their season. Charlotte is currently on a three game winning streak with wins coming against the Denver Nuggets, Houston Rockets, and Indiana Pacers. As for the result of this game, I have the Phoenix Suns picking up the victory in this one on the road. Look for Paul and Booker to play a big factor in this game as well.
Tony’s NBA Pick: Phoenix Suns (-146)
Dallas Mavericks @ Oklahoma City Thunder – 7pm ET
The Dallas Mavericks wrap up their road trip on Sunday when they take on the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Mavericks have won three of their last six games, and this takes their season record to 17-18. The Thunder have also won three of their last six games, but their season record sits as 13-22.
The Dallas Mavericks and the Oklahoma City Thunder will face each other for a second time this season. Their first meeting went in favor of the Mavs who completely smashed their opponents by 19 points, 103-84. The team from Texas have big ambitions this year as it provides them with yet another shot at the NBA Championship with Luka Doncic in their roster. He signed a new supermax contract this summer for 4 years which would mean that there is plenty of time for the management to make things right. They are now 7th in the West with a 17-18 record, but that’s understandable keeping in mind that they have had some obstacles to deal with during the early stages of the campaign.
The Oklahoma City Thunder might be 14th in the West with the unattractive 13-22 record, but they have shown a massive potential. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has been improving since the start of the season and led the team to a 5-3 record around Christmas. They defeated the likes of the Clippers, the Grizzlies, the Nuggets, and the Knicks. Most of these victories came in front of their home crowd at Paycom Center, so this should speak for itself. Now that they host the Mavs, many people would doubt their winning chances. In my opinion, even though Luka Doncic is cleared off the health and safety protocol, I think that his 10-game absence might stop him from doing his best on the court. That’s why I will go with the surprise here and pick the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Dallas Mavericks are likely to get Luca Doncic back for this one and it could not be happening at a better time for the Mavs. As Dallas comes into this game with a record of 17-18 on the season. In their last game the Dallas Mavericks avenged a loss to the Sacramento Kings from the previous contest by picking up a hard fought 112-96 win on the road in California. Now they will be coming into this game looking to make it three wins in their last four with a victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder in this road game.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are coming into this game with a record of 13-22 on the season. As they are still in full rebuild mode ever since Russell Westbrook departed a couple of seasons ago. They have won four straight home games and will be looking to make it a fifth straight with an upset win in this. However, as for the result of this game, I don’t see that happening as I have the Dallas Mavericks picking up the victory in this one on the road, snapping the Thunder’s streak.
Tony’s NBA Pick: Dallas Mavericks (-300)
Minnesota Timberwolves @ Los Angeles Lakers – 9.30pm ET
The final game on Sunday night’s slate will see the Minnesota Timberwolves go up against the Los Angeles Lakers. The Timberwolves have won one of their last five games, with their only win coming against the Celtics, 108-103. The Lakers have won two of their last three games, and this takes their season record to 18-19.
The last match for this weekend will be between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Los Angeles Lakers at Crypto.com Arena. Both teams are neck and neck in the current standings in the West. The Lakers are 8th with 18 wins and 19 losses, while the Timberwolves hold a 16-19 record. The Lakers have been anything but confident and unstoppable from the start of the campaign. They have gone through a lot, but even with most of their players on the court, they couldn’t find the right way to the final victory. LeBron James relies much on Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony who are not able to lead the Lakers right now. In my opinion, Frank Vogel should include more young players in the rotation that will make his strategy a bit more unpredictable. However, LeBron James carries the team recently with monstrous performances. He dropped 30 or more points in his last 7 appearances, four of which finished with at least a double-double.
The Timberwolves rely much on their offensive trio including Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell, and Anthony Edwards. The last one has made his return following COVID-19, but Towns and Russell remain in the health and safety protocols. Fortunately, Jarred Vanderbilt is expected to be back for the Timberwolves against the Lakers. The rest of the squad is healthy and they are just waiting on these two to be back with them to start racking up wins. The Timberwolves desperately need them as they are on 1-4 run ahead of Sunday’s game against the Lakers. In my opinion, they have a decent squad that can withstand the team from Los Angeles and I will trust them to cover their spread away from home.
Denis’ NBA Pick: Minnesota Timberwolves +8 (-110)
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) January 1, 2022
The Minnesota Timberwolves are coming into this game with a record of 16-19 on the season. They are currently in a decent position in the Western Conference as they find themselves in 9th place. However they are coming into this game on a two game losing streak and having lost four of their last five games. They will be looking to break the streak against a Lakers team that has struggled as of late, even after LeBron’s historic performance in their last game.
As for the previously mentioned Los Angeles Lakers, they will come into this game with a record of 18-19 on the season. With each passing game, the super team that the Lakers are supposed to be is looking less and less realistic as they have struggled their way through their first 37 games on the season and hardly look like a championship threat. However as for the result of this contest, I have the Los Angeles Lakers picking up another victory at home. Expect LeBron to be the focal point of this one as well, as I expect him to try and take over to get the Lakers in the right direction.
Tony’s NBA Pick: Los Angeles Lakers (-355)
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.