Our free NBA picks are out for Wednesday, December 15th, 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!
Houston Rockets @ Cleveland Cavaliers – 7pm ET
The Houston Rockets end their three game road trip in Cleveland, when they take on the Cavaliers on Wednesday night. The Rockets snapped a two game losing streak last time out, with a win against the Hawks, 132-126, and this brings their season record to 9-18. The Cavaliers winning streak continues on, they have now won four games in a row, with wins against the Bulls, Timberwolves, Kings and Heat.
The Houston Rockets have done something incredible recently as the team won 7 straight games, after losing in 15 consecutive matches. This streak, however, ended with a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks and later on, they were also defeated by the Memphis Grizzlies. In their last game, the Rockets beat the Atlanta Hawks on the road, 132-126. They didn’t manage to stop Trae Young, who dropped 41 points in this matchup, but in the end, they were victorious due to the great performance from their veterans, Eric Gordon and DJ Augustin. Jae’Sean Tate and Josh Cristopher have been playing on a very high level lately as well.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, on the other hand, have been performing miracles without their superstar, Collin Sexton. They are on a 4-game winning streak ahead of this match, defeating the likes of the Chicago Bulls, Minnesota Timberwolves, Sacramento Kings, and Miami Heat. The team currently stands in 4th place in the East with 17 wins and 12 losses which is an incredible achievement keeping in mind the fierce competition right now. The players are playing like a team as there is no single player who is in charge and takes responsibility for most of the shots. Darius Garland, Kevin Love, Lauri Markkanen, and Jarrett Allen have been playing great lately and are among the prime reasons for the Cavs’ success. I think, however, it’s tough to call whether they will cover the spread or not, but I believe they won’t be able to cover the points spread given. So, I will go with “under points”.
Denis’ NBA Pick: Under 221 (-110)
The Cleveland Cavaliers continue to be the NBA’s breakout team, as they sit at 17-12, currently the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference. Time will tell to see if they can maintain this standing in an increasingly competitive conference. Cleveland doesn’t do much to impress statistically, but for now, they’re enjoying the ride and hope to continue to grow as a unit as the season continues. On Wednesday, they face the Houston Rockets, another team with a nice mix of veterans and youthful talent. Before a loss to the Milwaukee Bucks last Friday, the Rockets had a good winning streak and picked up another big win on Monday night against the playoff hungry Atlanta Hawks.
📍Cleveland, Ohio pic.twitter.com/kgBoGq7jlN
— Houston Rockets (@HoustonRockets) December 14, 2021
Houston is still only 9-18 on the season, but this recent streak of success should give them some optimism for the future as they get a taste of what it’s like to win. Only thing the Rockets probably wish is that second overall pick Jalen Green was getting a little more exposure to this. For a guy the team wants to help carry the franchise these games are essential. The entire team will be up for a tough task against a Cleveland team that’s playing great basketball and is looking incredibly deep. Even though Houston has shown they can compete with some quality opponents, I’ll pick this hungry Cavs team to win at home.
Michael’s NBA Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers (-480)
The Houston Rockets come into this one slowly looking like a team that can at least manage in the league, after starting the year looking like a squad that simply didn’t belong on the floor against virtually anyone. Despite their record only sitting at 9-18, the improvement has been notable, and that’s got to be a positive sign for Houston fans.
In this one, they get a Cleveland team that continues to impress, despite not many people expecting them to be in the conversation nearly at all this season. Even with Colin Sexton being out, the Cavs continue to roll right along, leaning heavily on rookie Evan Mobley. For this one, despite the fact that Cleveland sits at fourth in the East, and Houston has looked bad then decent this season, I like Houston to pull off an upset here, led by the thought that Christian Wood plays extremely well in this one, getting the Rockets a tight win on the road.
Noah’s NBA Pick: Houston Rockets (+370)
Miami Heat @ Philadelphia 76ers – 7pm ET
The Miami Heat’s road trip continues on, and on Wednesday night they will face off against the Philadelphia 76ers. The Heat have been a little bit inconsistent so far in December, winning three of their seven games so far this month, which brings their season record to 16-12. The 76ers are another team that is struggling with inconsistency in December, they have won four of their seven games, and their season record sits at 15-13.
The Philadelphia 76ers and the Miami Heat will produce a classic matchup in the Eastern Conference on Wednesday. Both teams have gone through some solid periods lately as Philly managed to bounce off the bottom of the table from the early 2010s, while the Heat not only managed to win titles with LeBron James and Dwayne Wade in this period, but they also went through their rebuilding stage. This season has been quite a rollercoaster for the 76ers as they had to deal with numerous things already. First, Ben Simmons refused to play for the team and the management had to take some measures for that. Then, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid had a close meeting with Covid-19, but fortunately recovered quickly from it. In the end, the Philadelphia 76ers are 6th in the East with a 15-13 record, but this still keeps them in the mix between the 4th and the 13th place.
The Miami Heat have once again managed to prove the critics wrong. They were saying that Tyler Herro was a bust, who won’t be able to achieve anything on his own, but a couple of early games this season proved quite the opposite. He has put in the much-needed work in the gym, grew even stronger, and became a more confident and better shooter. However, he will need to take on the 76ers without some of his best teammates like Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler who are still recovering from injuries. He will eventually get some help from Kyle Lowry and Duncan Robinson, but they will need to put up big numbers, if they want to stop Embiid and his 76ers. I think it will be a really tough task and that’s why I will go with a win for the team with a home court advantage – Philadelphia.
Denis’ NBA Pick: Philadelphia 76ers (-230)
Just as the Philadelphia 76ers had appeared to turn a new leaf, after a big win against the Golden State Warriors, the Sixers went and lost to a Ja Morant-less Grizzlies team by 30+. Now it should be noted that Joel Embiid missed the game, but still it is frustrating that the rest of their team has struggled to step up in his absence. Other teams, including the Grizzlies, have seen star players go down and other guys have relinquished the opportunity. If Embiid needs to be rested ever-so-often, the Sixers are going to have to play better in those games going forward if they expect to get a high seed in the conference.
Speaking of teams that step up when star players are out, the Miami Heat have continued to pull off wins even without Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler. They haven’t been perfect, but they’ve still nabbed big wins against the likes of the Milwaukee Bucks and Chicago Bulls. They’ll now face a Sixers team that has Embiid listed as questionable as they continue to fight on without their star players. Imagining Philadelphia has both Embiid and Seth Curry (who was a late scratch against Memphis) back, I think they should be able to dismantle this Heat team while playing at home.
Michael’s NBA Pick: Philadelphia 76ers -5.5 (-110)
In a game that features two of the Eastern Conference’s most talented teams, we get a game with two teams that are underperforming as of late. For Philadelphia, this comes as a bit of a surprise, as they were playing extremely well before losing Joel Embiid for a few weeks due to Covid. Following his return, they jumped right back into playing great basketball, but have since fallen on tough times again. The biggest issue I have with this Philly team right now is that I’m not convinced that the rest of the roster (outside of Embiid) is good enough to make a legitimate deep run in the postseason.
For Miami, they’ve been underperforming as well, although they have slightly more excuses. They’re missing Bam Adebayo for multiple weeks, and Jimmy Butler has been dealing with some back issues, which has caused his play to be a bit more inconsistent than many would want or expect. Despite these injuries, I actually like Miami in this one on the road. I think Tyler Herro plays a really good game, getting some solid help from Duncan Robinson and Kyle Lowry, allowing the Heat to sneak out of Philadelphia with a win.
Noah’s NBA Pick: Miami Heat (+190)
Los Angeles Lakers @ Dallas Mavericks – 7.30pm ET
The Los Angeles Lakers hit the road and will face off against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night. The Lakers are currently on a two game winning streak, but are still seven and a half games behind the Warriors, who are leading the Pacific Division. The Mavericks are also on a two game winning streak, and they sit just two and a half games behind the Grizzlies, who are leading the Southwest Division.
The Los Angeles Lakers slowly, but surely find their right rhythm. The team still seems far away from their top form as players like Anthony Davis and Carmelo Anthony are still underperforming. Led by LeBron James, the Lakers managed to pick up two wins in their last two games over some of the weakest rosters in the NBA – Orlando Magic and Oklahoma City Thunder. The team from the “City of Angels” has lots of troubles in the early stages of each single game as they frequently enter into the halftime with a deficit. They have been far from the dominant level expected from them as only the games against the Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat can serve as some good benchmarks. They have suffered so many upsets and drawbacks from the start of the campaign that even if they go on a 20-0 run, people might still not be sure whether they are living up to their potential or it’s just a 30-day wonder.
The Dallas Mavericks are right behind their upcoming opponents in the current standings in the West. The team from Texas has 14 wins and 13 losses so far as this bad performance is mainly due to the absence of Luka Doncic who is still recovering from an ankle injury. The Mavs, however, found a way to win without their Slovenia superstar as they outclassed the Charlotte Hornets in their last meeting by 24 points. In their matchup before that, they beat the OKC Thunder 103-84. Kristaps Porzingis and Jalen Brunson have played quite a vital role in their last games, but players like Trey Burke and Maxmilian Kleber show significant improvement. We shouldn’t forget that Tim Hardaway Jr. and Dorian Finney-Smith are also part of the Mavs and I think they will be too much for the current form shown by the Lakers. My preferences go towards Dallas in this one.
Denis’ NBA Pick: Dallas Mavericks (-138)
This one had all the potential to be a potential playoff matchup, between two of the league’s top players in Luka Doncic and LeBron James. Unfortunately, Doncic is still recovering from an ankle injury, and the Lakers should be at full-strength (James and Anthony Davis are listed as questionable). Despite Luka’s absence, the Mavericks’ other players are starting to show they can help lead Luka past the first round as they’ve won consecutive games by double digits without him. This has been thanks to Kristaps Porzingis looking like the talent the Mavericks hoped he’d be when they traded for him a couple of seasons ago. Additionally the team has gotten great help from the likes of Jalen Brunson, Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway Jr. who are continuing to develop into solid pieces.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) December 14, 2021
The Mavericks will look to make it three straight wins against a Lakers squad that’s been a bit unpredictable with their play. They’ve won three of four, but have still been a bit flaky on defense. Luckily they have this guy named LeBron James, who has once again been putting the team on his back, while putting up MVP numbers in the process. Even though it’s hard to trust the Lakers against a Mavericks team that’s building confidence, I think the Lakers at full-strength are slowly starting to click and no Doncic to defend will help ease things a bit.
Michael’s NBA Pick: Los Angeles Lakers (+118)
Have the Los Angeles Lakers finally found a bit of a groove with their aging group of All-Stars? They come into this one on a two game winning streak, and are slowly getting a bit more help for LeBron from the King’s supporting cast. I didn’t like the moves made in the offseason by Los Angeles, and I still don’t, but for brief periods of time I think the moves can have a positive impact on a team that needs something to go right for them to be able to make a postseason run.
With the Dallas Mavericks, they’ve had a bit of a disappointing year so far, and I’m not sure that that’s going to slow down anytime soon. Their superstar, Luka Doncic, has missed more time than many would’ve wanted him to, and it’s already been announced that he’s out for this one as well. With Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. being the second and third options, I just don’t think there’s enough offense on this team minus Doncic. Take the Lakers in this one, even with the team being inconsistent to say the least. I look for LeBron to take advantage of the fact that Doncic is out, and he leads his squad to a huge win in a game that ends up pushing the Lakers win streak to three.
Noah’s NBA Pick: Los Angeles Lakers (+118)
Indiana Pacers @ Milwaukee Bucks – 8pm ET
The Indiana Pacers have a short one game road trip to Milwaukee and then they return home again when they face off against the Bucks. The Pacers had their three game winning streak snapped last time out, with a nail biting loss to the Warriors, 100-102. The Bucks are also coming off a loss last time out, and this brings their season record to 18-11.
The Milwaukee Bucks take on the Indiana Pacers in a very interesting game on Wednesday night in the NBA. The Pacers continue playing great defense that really keeps them going this year. They might be struggling at the bottom of the table in the East with a 12-17 record, but the Pacers have actually been looking better lately. They won three games in a row against teams like the Washington Wizards, New York Knicks, and Dallas Mavericks. They were on the verge of defeating the Golden State Warriors in their last match, making it four straight victories, but were outclassed by Steph Curry and Andrew Wiggins in the final minutes, thus losing 100-102.
The Milwaukee Bucks, on the other hand, have found the right path once again and will be looking to further build on to that. However, they lost their last match against the Boston Celtics in TD Garden; a game in which Jayson Tatum dropped a season-high 42 points, helping his team knock off the Bucks. Milwaukee remained 3rd in the current standings after that loss with 18 wins and 11 losses. Giannis and his teammates will try to keep that place among the top 4 teams which will give them home court advantage in the Playoffs. In my opinion, the upcoming fixture will be really captivating to watch as one of the best defenses will come up against the reigning champions with some of the best offensive players in the NBA. I think, however, the Pacers will succeed in destroying the Bucks’ game and this will mean we will see a more strategic game with less points than expected. So, I will go for the option for “under points”.
Denis’ NBA Pick: Under 216.5 (-110)
The Milwaukee Bucks suffered another big hit to a season that’s already had plenty of injuries and COVID issues as Giannis Antetokounmpo will have to miss time while observing the league’s COVID protocols, The team also might be without Khris Middleton who is recovering from a knee injury. As if not having Giannis wasn’t bad enough, this team will now maybe be without their second best player as well, in addition to some injuries that have already been in place.
Their opponent is an Indiana Pacers team that’s finally shown some signs of life. They might still be 12-17, but they won three straight before only losing by two to the league’s best team the Golden State Warriors. This team that has so much talent looks like they’re finally clicking, or maybe every player is just auditioning for a trade. Regardless, something is working for this team as they’re tapping into their potential. I expect them to keep it going against a hobbled Bucks team on Wednesday.
Michael’s NBA Pick: Indiana Pacers (+102)
The Indiana Pacers have continued their streak of being virtually impossible to predict, as they were projected to be a borderline playoff team, before starting the year extremely slow, which eased some of the expectations. Since then, they’ve played a little better, but the defense is still hit or miss, and no one’s quite sure about what the offense is going to do on a night to night basis.
They get the Milwaukee Bucks in this one, but it’s going to be a Giannis-less Bucks team, as he’s already been listed as out. Khris Middleton is also only questionable for this one, which would greatly impact the pick for this game. Even with Giannis out, I lean Milwaukee here, but if Mid also misses, then I don’t think you have much choice but to take Indiana. For now, I’m going to give the Bucks the nod in terms of winning, and with the line sitting at only 1.5, the bet would be to take the points here. But stay up to date with roster news here, as that could change at any point, if we get more news about Khris Middleton’s availability.
Noah’s NBA Pick: Milwaukee Bucks -1.5 (-110)
Los Angeles Clippers @ Utah Jazz – 10pm ET
The Los Angeles Clippers kick off a two game road trip in Utah on Wednesday night, when they take on the Jazz. The Clippers are currently on a four game winning streak, with wins against the Trail Blazers, Celtics, Magic and Suns, which brings their season record to 16-12. The Jazz are leading their Northwest Division, by five and a half games, and they are currently on a massive seven game winning streak.
The Los Angeles Clippers will have one of the most unpleasant teams as an opponent on Wednesday night in the NBA. They will face the 3rd in the West, the Utah Jazz, who are much closer to the Suns and the Warriors than they are to the Clippers. Even without Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, the team from Los Angeles manages to put up a good fight in their matches and quite deservingly wins most of them. They are on a 16-12 record which puts them in 5th place so far, right behind the Memphis Grizzlies and on top of the Lakers. The Clippers are coming into this match on a 4-game winning streak defeating the likes of the Blazers, in an away game, as well as the Celtics, the Magic, and the Suns, all in Staples Center.
The Utah Jazz, however, seems to be even more merciless recently. They are on a 7-game winning streak and looking at the way they grab their wins, it seems that we have a new contender for the longest undefeated run this season. Although they have a long way to go to reach the Suns’ 18-0 run, it doesn’t seem impossible. The Jazz have some tough fixtures around Christmas and New Year’s Eve, but it’s nothing out of their potential. To put it into another perspective, the Jazz have won 5 out of their last 7 games by more than 20 points and scored in each single one of them at least 109 points. In 5 of them, they managed to surpass the 120-point mark. I think that we will see a similar streak to the Suns, in order to have that, the Jazz will need to defeat the Clippers. So, I will pick them as the final winner of this electrifying clash in Smart Home Arena that will eventually cover the spread.
Denis’ NBA Pick: Utah Jazz -9.5 (-110)
The Paul George-less Los Angeles Clippers got a big win over the Phoenix Suns the other night. Even though Phoenix was without Deandre Ayton and Devin Booker, still anytime you have a chance to beat a Chris Paul led squad—you take it. Now they’ll have an even bigger challenge as they face a Utah Jazz team that’s quietly working its way up the Western Conference standings.
“Just the work paying off.”
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) December 15, 2021
Utah sits at 19-7 on the year and are currently on a seven-game win streak. Utah now leads the league in points per game, as Donovan Mitchell has taken another step forward and they’ve gotten great depth help from the likes of Jordan Clarkson, Joe Ingles, and Rudy Gay. They also rank in the top five on defense, which can be attributed to the play of three-time Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert. This complete team looks to get to eight straight against a Clippers team that’s been resilient this season despite injuries. Even if Paul George returns for the Clippers, I just can’t see myself picking against the Jazz right now.
Michael’s NBA Pick: Utah Jazz -9.5 (-110)
In a matchup between two of the hottest teams in basketball, it’s hard to know which side gets the edge. The Utah Jazz are on a seven game winning streak, as they continue to show why they’re consistently one of the best regular season teams in basketball. With a balanced attack featuring Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, Joe Ingles, and Mike Conley, it’s easy to see how they put up points in bunches, but it’s also important to note that they play extremely good defense, too. As long as all of those guys remain healthy, they’re going to be a tough team to beat at any point this year.
With the Los Angeles Clippers, Paul George continues to lead the way for the team that is currently on a four game winning streak. However, I think the bigger reason for the winning streak for the team as of late is the help he’s getting from guys like Reggie Jackson, Terance Mann, and Luke Kennard. If the supporting cast’s play slows down at all, I think the Clips may be in trouble, especially as Kawhi Leonard is still trying to get back to action, but as long as PG-13 keeps getting serious help, Los Angeles is going to be just fine. I look for this one to be extremely tight, but in the end, I think I’m just going to go with the home-court advantage here. With this one being played in Utah, I like the Jazz to get the win, but not by enough to justify taking the points. So instead, play it somewhat safe and just take the Clippers to cover the 9.5 line that seems a bit too high for this matchup.
Noah’s NBA Pick: Los Angeles Clippers +9.5 (-110)
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*Odds and spreads correct at time of publication, courtesy of FanDuel.