Our free NBA picks are out for Tuesday, December 21st, 2021! Make sure you check our NBA picks before the action kicks off.
Look below to find our free NBA picks for the five games on today’s schedule!
Indiana Pacers @ Miami Heat – 7.30pm ET
The Indiana Pacers have a short one game road trip to Miami to take on the Heat, before they return home again. The Pacers snapped a two game losing streak last time out, with a win against the Pistons, 122-113. The Heat are two games ahead in their Southeast Division, with a record of 18-13.
The Indiana Pacers will take on the Miami Heat for the third time this season. In their previous two meetings, both teams shared a win as both of them were played in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis. The Pacers are surprisingly playing really poorly during this campaign, sitting in 13th place in the East with 13 wins and 18 losses. The Heat have the opposite record (18-13) and are 5th at the moment. Although they have only 41.9% win-ratio, the Pacers are looking at a positive total points difference. They are +47, while the Heat who are at 58.1% win-ratio are +91. This further suggests the lack of luck for Indiana this season.
The Heat are still without a couple of their best players including Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo. Tyler Herro is also out for the upcoming home game as they will most likely once again use Max Strus and Gabe Vincent alongside Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson. Keeping all this in mind, I am quite doubting their ability to defeat a strong defensive team like the Indiana Pacers. Hence, I am leaning more towards choosing the Pacers as I believe they should make the Playoffs or at least reach the top 10 eventually.
Denis’ NBA Pick: Indiana Pacers (-108)
In recent weeks, the Miami Heat have continued to put up a fight despite not having Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler. They’ve relied on big performances from the likes of Tyler Herro, Kyle Lowry, and Duncan Robinson. Unfortunately, Herro will miss Tuesday’s game against the Pacers and the Heat will also be without veteran disrupter P.J. Tucker. They’ll have to continue their fight with more men down, as they go up against a Pacers team that’s trying to work their way back into the playoff race.
next stop: Miami 🌴 pic.twitter.com/ZsiVHdvWOX
— Indiana Pacers (@Pacers) December 20, 2021
Indiana is coming off a 122-point performance, as they beat the Detroit Pistons 122-103. This was thanks to a scoring explosion from Caris Levert who dropped 31 points. The Pacers have been incredibly inconsistent this year; to the point where I’ve lacked confidence in picking them against almost anyone. Even against this depleted Miami team, I’m not sure, but on paper they have no excuse not to win this one.
Michael’s NBA Pick: Indiana Pacers (-108)
Indiana comes into this one as one of the more disappointing teams in the NBA so far this season, as they simply refuse to play defense. The Pacer offense has shown that they can be one of the best in the league, which is the only thing keeping them afloat through the first two months of the season.
Miami comes in as one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference, although they’ve been tested as of late, as they’re dealing with some serious injury issues. They’re missing Bam Adebayo for a few more weeks, and now they’re down Tyler Herro and P.J. Tucker as well. However, I’m still going to lean on the Heat here, as so far they’ve handled these injuries reasonably well, and I like them to continue that trend against a Pacer team that has been way too inconsistent than to try to predict what you’re getting from them.
Noah’s NBA Pick: Miami Heat (-108)
Detroit Pistons @ New York Knicks – 7.30pm ET
The Detroit Pistons are on the road on Tuesday night when they travel to New York to take on the Knicks, who are starting a three game homestand. The Pistons have finally broken their losing streak with a win against a depleted Heat team, 100-90. The Knicks have only managed to win two games so far in December, and this drops their season record to 13-17.
The Detroit Pistons will try to build on their fantastic performance against the Miami Heat. Saddiq Bet led the way for the Pistons with 26 points and 4 rebounds for 36 minutes of play. Their next opponent will be the New York Knicks who are having some troubles recently. They have won just two out of their last 10 games. On the other hand, nothing can be compared to the bad run from the Pistons lately. With their victory over the Heat, they managed to put an end to their 14-game losing streak. They are without a double one of the most underdeveloped teams in the NBA at the moment and it will be a success for them if they somehow find a way to go beyond the 30-35% mark for wins in the season.
Madison Square Garden hasn’t seen their team winning on home court since November. They have gone on a 0-5 run losing to the Suns, the Bulls, the Nuggets, the Bucks, and the Warriors. The fans in the emblematic arena will be eager to see their players dominate over someone. The Pistons provide the Knicks with a perfect opportunity to head into Christmas in a good mood. I think that Julius Randle, Kemba Walker, and Evan Fournier will capitalize this chance and bring some joy to their fans in these tough times. I am not really sure whether they will be able to cover the spread for the match, but I am willing to try it.
Denis’ NBA Pick: New York Knicks -9.5 (-110)
At the beginning of the season, I never would’ve thought I’d be describing this game as a battle between two of the Eastern Conference’s worst teams. I would’ve thought it’d be a lopsided victory in New York’s favor. But, the New York Knicks have been one of the NBA’s biggest disappointments; after a breakout season in 2021-22 they’re now 12th in the Eastern Conference. Even when they play an awful team like the Detroit Pistons, you can’t guarantee they’ll win, as they’ve had a tough time versus other opponents with terrible records. As they look to stay alive in the Eastern Conference, they’ll need to knock off a young Pistons team at MSG.
After a couple of tough losses, the Detroit Pistons were able to muster together a win against a hobbled Miami Heat team on Sunday night. They won 100-90, and hope to keep the momentum going against this underachieving New York Knicks team. The Pistons have at least been thrilled with the performance of Cade Cunningham: the first overall pick still has a lot to work on, but the signs of greatness are definitely there. He’ll look to play a major part in this game against the Knicks. He had a rough game against the Heat, but still found ways to contribute by dishing out 10 assists. Luckily the team got big help from youngster Saddiq Bey who scored 26 points. These two will look to make it a contest, but I think the Knicks beat the spread at home. Even in their loss to the Boston Celtics on Saturday, they got big games from the often-struggling Kemba Walker and offseason acquisition Evan Fournier. I think those two will build on those performances and lead the Knicks.
Michael’s NBA Pick: New York Knicks -9.5 (-110)
The Detroit Pistons are absolutely atrocious. Despite getting the number one overall pick in this year’s draft, they’re showing that they want a chance to get that one pick again, as they look like they don’t plan on beating anyone. They’ve tried to be competitive at times, but the talent just isn’t there to make this a consistent effort. They did actually sneak away with a win over the previously mentioned Miami Heat on Sunday night though, which could potentially give them a bit of momentum as they come into this one.
The other good news for Pistons fans is that they get a New York Knicks team that has shown that they also have no interest in winning basketball games of late, as they’re sitting at 2-8 in their last ten. However, despite this abysmal play from NY over the last month or so, I think they just overpower Detroit with Julius Randle down low, which is why I’m leaning on the Knicks in this one, though not by enough to justify the -9.5 number. Give me the Pistons to cover a number that just seems too large.
Noah’s NBA Pick: Detroit Pistons +9.5 (-110)
Portland Trail Blazers @ New Orleans Pelicans – 8pm ET
The Portland Trail Blazers wrap up a short two game road trip in New Orleans when they take on the Pelicans. The Trail Blazers have managed to string two wins in a row together, defeating the Hornets and Grizzlies. The Pelicans haven’t played since December 17, as their game with the Thunder was postponed, but they are currently also on a two game winning streak.
The Portland Trail Blazers have probably found their way out of the void as they enjoyed victories in their last two games. They consecutively defeated the Charlotte Hornets and Memphis in tight contests. Damian Lillard once again proved that he will lead the Blazers this season as well, dropping 43 points against the Hornets and 32 points against the Grizzlies. Normal Powell and Ben McLemore come up big from time to time and bring the much-needed help for their point guard. The Blazers are still far behind from their rivals, sitting in 10th place with a 13-18 record. The team will try to build on their most recent performance in the NBA and put together a long winning streak.
The Pelicans, on the other hand, are even worse as they are second-to-last in the current standings in the Western Conference. A 10-21 record is not something that delights their fans, but that’s the current situation with them. They will most likely be without Zion Williamson for the rest of the season, as he will need to spend some more time in the gym before making his comeback. Jonas Valanciunas is playing on a very high level for the Pelicans, while Davonte Graham still struggles to deliver on a daily-basis. They are coming into this fixture on a 2-game winning streak, defeating the Thunder and the Bucks. I think that they won’t be able to stop the Blazers, as I am going to trust Damian Lillard and his squad this time.
Denis’ NBA Pick: Portland Trail Blazers (-116)
The New Orleans Pelicans continue to make do, as star forward Zion Williamson’s return appears to be nowhere in sight. Still the team continues to work hard with the likes of Brandon Ingram, Jonas Valunciunas, and Devonte Graham. They may only be 10-21, but at least they’re a fun 10-21 to watch. On Tuesday they’ll host a Portland Trail Blazers team that’s coming off a big win against the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday night.
— New Orleans Pelicans (@PelicansNBA) December 20, 2021
Not only did Portland take one from the hottest team in basketball in the Grizzlies, but they also tamed one of the NBA’s top offenses in the Charlotte Hornets on Saturday. In both games Damian Lillard went off, looking like the “Dame Time” we’ve grown to know in recent years. He’s doing an excellent job of putting the team on his back after CJ McCollum went out indefinitely. He’ll look to keep it going against this New Orleans team that shouldn’t be overlooked despite their record. The odds on this one are close, but right now I like this Blazers team that many have been waiting to heat up.
Michael’s NBA Pick: Portland Trail Blazers (-116)
Have the Portland Trail Blazers found their way out of their slump? They’ve currently won two in a row, including a win that snapped the Memphis Grizzlies five game winning streak at the time. Damian Lillard has slowly begun to find his rhythm once again, which should concern other players in the league, as if he’s on his game, he’s one of the best scorers in basketball. This Portland offense has stepped up over the last week or so, which has also proven to be a big difference maker in terms of the performance we’ve seen from them.
Now they get a New Orleans team that is also on a two game winning streak, but just doesn’t have the talent that Portland does. On top of that, they continue to get discouraging news about Zion Williamson’s return, which has once again been delayed by a few weeks. Even with Zion out, I think the Pels can potentially win the paint battle, but I think with Dame playing at a high level now, the Blazers can take advantage on the perimeter, and it is enough for them to sneak away with a close win on the road against a mediocre New Orleans team.
Noah’s NBA Pick: Portland Trail Blazers (-116)
Minnesota Timberwolves @ Dallas Mavericks – 8.30pm ET
The Minnesota Timberwolves and the Dallas Mavericks play the second game of their back-to-back against each other on Tuesday night. In the first game, played on December 19, it was the Timberwolves who got the better of the Mavericks, 111-105. Now that the Mavericks are playing at home, can they get revenge, or will the Timberwolves prove too good once again?
The Minnesota Timberwolves and the Dallas Mavericks will take on each other on Tuesday night in Texas. Both teams have high hopes to make the Playoffs this year, but the competition in the West cannot be disregarded. They will need to create something incredible throughout the remaining parts of the season to secure their spot in the bracket. Both teams have fantastic players in their rosters with Dallas relying mostly on their duo, Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, while the Timberwolves’ trio is always ready to deliver. Karl-Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, and D’Angelo Russell are playing on a monstrous level in particular games and if they have a good night, they might combine for almost 100 points for Minnesota.
The Mavericks are struggling more than expected this year, but the season is quite long for them to make their comeback. Both teams faced each other on Sunday with the Timberwolves coming out victorious in the end, 111-105. Both of them faced difficulties with the increased Covid-19 cases in the NBA. For Dallas, Max Kleber, Reggie Bullock, Frank Ntilikina, and Josh Green are sidelined for this reason, while Doncic and Porzingis will miss the game due to injuries. The Timberwolves won’t be able to use one part of their trio in the face of Anthony Edwards, while Patrick Beverly and Jarred Vanderbilt remain out of the squad due to entering the health & safety protocols. Hence, I am expecting to see a less entertaining game with the absence of the top players from both teams. I will choose the “under line” in this match.
Denis’ NBA Pick: Under 215.5 (-112)
In the second consecutive matchup between these two teams, both have numerous players sidelined, including the Timberwolves’ Anthony Edwards and the Mavericks’ Luka Donicic. It takes away from the potential blockbuster this matchup could’ve been, but based on the first game which ended 111-105 in Minnesota’s favor, this should still be a fun one to watch. The Mavericks have actually played okay despite Doncic’s absence, but have lost close games in their last two. Aside from their loss against Minnesota, they also fell to the Lakers in overtime last Wednesday. If they plan on beating Minnesota they’ll hope to have Kristaps Porzingis healthy, as he’s currently listed as questionable to play.
Meanwhile the Minnesota Timberwolves have won four straight, but they’re starting to lose quality players. Even after Anthony Edwards was sidelined with COVID, they were still able to rely on the scoring of Karl Anthony-Towns and D’Angelo Russell. But now they’re also without veteran and defensive wizard Patrick Beverly, who is a big reason they’re one of the best teams at creating turnovers. Still, based on how well Towns and Russell have been and the fact that Porzingis is still just a maybe, I think the Mavericks are the safe bet here.
Michael’s NBA Pick: Minnesota Timberwolves (-116)
Dallas has been a disappointment so far this year, and as long as Luka Doncic remains out, which he is for this one, I think that’s going to continue. Kristaps Porzingis has shown the ability to be decent as a leader in place of Luka, but you can see the blatant hole that Doncic leaves when he isn’t on the floor. Adding onto that, these two teams just played a few nights ago, and Minnesota got the win at home in that one.
For the Timberwolves, they’re extremely reliant on Karl-Anthony Towns to lead the way, but with D’Angelo Russell and Anthony Edwards both playing well (before Edwards went into health and safety protocols), this is a Minnesota team that has the core talent to compete with just about anyone in the league, if they can all click on the same night, which has been their problem all year long. In this one, even if they don’t all play solidly, I like the ‘Wolves, as Dallas without Luka has been the very definition of a roller coaster so far this year. Minnesota got a win over Dallas at home in their last outing, and I think they do the same in this one, this time it just comes on the road in Dallas instead of in their friendly confines up in Minneapolis.
Noah’s NBA Pick: Minnesota Timberwolves (-116)
Phoenix Suns @ Los Angeles Lakers – 10pm ET
We wrap up Tuesday night in the NBA with a doozy, as the Phoenix Suns take on the Los Angeles Lakers. The Suns are currently the leaders in the Pacific Division, a division that the Lakers are also in, and currently nine games behind. The Lakers are currently on a two game losing streak, with losses to the Timberwolves and Bulls.
The Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers will wrap up Tuesday night in the NBA. Both teams would want to head into Christmas with a couple of wins, but that’s quite unlikely to happen for the Lakers as they are already on a 2-game losing streak. This dragged them down to 7th place in the West with a 16-15 record. They might still be on the positive side, but their performance is far from the expectations. The team struggles to assert dominance in their matches as they regularly send their games into overtime.
The Suns, on the other hand, are top of the NBA with 24 wins and just 5 losses. Most of these losses came as a result of the absence of some of their best players like Devin Booker or Deandre Ayton. Chris Paul is without a doubt the most valuable player for the Suns from the beginning of the season as he displays a Playoffs performance on the court. The team might not be the top favorites to win the NBA Championship, but in my opinion, they are the biggest danger for teams like the Warriors, the Bucks, and the Nets. I think their domination will once again be shown in Staples Center as I expect them to defeat the Lakers by a huge margin. Hence, I am willing to bet on the Suns covering their spread against a shorthanded team from California.
Denis’ NBA Pick: Phoenix Suns -6.5 (-110)
The Phoenix Suns were thrilled to get Devin Booker back on Sunday, as they cruised past one of the NBA’s best offenses in the Charlotte Hornets 137-106. They’re back at full-strength and are looking to get back to the top of the Western Conference as they face a Lakers team that they’ve been able to dominate in recent matchups.
Tough finish. pic.twitter.com/ZzvAFtzqZ1
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 20, 2021
Whereas the Suns got Booker back the other night, the Lakers lost a big player, as Anthony Davis will miss around a month with an MCL sprain. They’ll depend on big performances from LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and a variety of veterans as they go up against the defending Western Conference Champions. Phoenix is so well rounded and their ability to dominate both sides of the ball will create quite an obstacle for the Lakers to overcome. Never say never when it comes to a LeBron James-led team, but when Phoenix is healthy they’re arguably the league’s best team. I’ll pick them to cover.
Michael’s NBA Pick: Phoenix Suns -6.5 (-110)
Can the Los Angeles Lakers ever figure out how to play team basketball on a consistent enough basis to make a real run in terms of the postseason this year? Right now, the offseason moves just haven’t worked out, as they simply seemed to have added age, without adding much value. We’re watching this Laker squad have to rely way too heavily on an aging LeBron who, while still a monster, is getting to that point that he simply can’t take over ball games the same way he used to be able to. And now with Anthony Davis out for multiple weeks, we’ve seen them drop two in a row, and I think that probably turns into three in this one.
Phoenix comes in as the second best team in the NBA, and they’re showing how and why they managed to win the Western Conference last season. The defense is playing well, and with a core of Devin Booker, De’Andre Ayton, and Chris Paul, they have the ability to simply take over games on the offensive side of the ball as well. To this point in the season, this balance has only been able to be matched by a few teams in the league, and none of those are the Lakers. I like the Suns to travel west and win this one, walking out of Staples Center with a victory in a game that before the year looked like a much better matchup than it does now.
Noah’s NBA Pick: Phoenix Suns -6.5 (-110)
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.