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Sean B’s Best NBA Bets Today: Picks & Predictions for 12/16/2021

Sean Blazek

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There were two insane endings last night in the NBA. Rookie Austin Reaves splashed a game winning 3-pointer in overtime for the Lakers to secure the victory over the Mavericks. Soon after, the Pelicans defeated the Thunder 113-100 on an impressive three-quarter court shot from Devonte’ Graham with time expiring. NBA Thursday presents a four-game slate, with the Bulls – Raptors postponed due to COVID issues within the Bulls organization. Let’s dive into the best bets to make tonight and overall NBA betting tips for Thursday, Dec. 16.

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76ers vs. Nets

The Brooklyn Nets are down to eight active players on the roster after getting hit hard with COVID this week. James Harden, DeAndre’ Bembry, LaMarcus Aldridge, Jevon Carter, James Johnson and Paul Millsap are all out in the leagues health and safety protocols. The Nets were able to pull off a 131-129 overtime win against Toronto on Wednesday behind a triple-double from Kevin Durant. They were with eight active players and still managed to pull off the victory. Tonight they will be tasked with the same challenge going up against a Philadelphia team hungry for a victory.

The 76ers have dropped two straight and are coming off a disappointing loss last night to a short-handed Miami Heat squad. Philadelphia has a 15-14 record, trailing the Nets by 5.5 games in the Atlantic Division. The 76ers are averaging 106.5 points on 45.8% shooting on the season. Philadelphia will be without Georges Niang, who has entered health and safety protocol. Furkan Korkmaz is questionable after missing Wednesday’s game with a non-COVID  illness. Joel Embiid will need use his size and strength to dominate down low tonight against the short-handed Nets. If the 76ers can control the pace of the game and get a productive night out of Tyrese Maxey and Tobias Harris, they will have an excellent chance to come out on top. The 76ers are last in pace and can use their size to their advantage against a short Brooklyn rotation that has one game of experience together on the floor.

The Nets bench players will have a tough time putting up a repeat performance of their game against Toronto with three of the team’s top five scorers absent from tonight’s game. This is a fortunate bounce-back spot for the 76ers to get back in the win column. Brooklyn is 11-16-1 against the spread this year and 3-10-1 against the spread at home. The 76ers are 5-0 against the spread in their last five games as a road underdog. Take the healthier team in tonight’s action and watch for Philadelphia to win this one outright.

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Best Bet for Tonight’s Game: Philadelphia 76ers +1.5

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Wizards vs. Suns

The Washington Wizards and Phoenix Suns have been fortunate this week when it comes the health and safety protocols. Kyle Kuzma returned on Wednesday after a two-game absence. Phoenix does not have any players in the health and safety protocols, but they are still without Devin Booker, who is nursing a hamstring injury that has forced him to miss the last six games. Reports are that Booker is targeting a return date of Dec. 21. Since his absence, the Suns have 4-2 record and are averaging 105.8 points per game.

The Wizards lost a disappointing game last night to the Kings, falling 119-105 in Sacramento. Washington entered the fourth quarter with a 5-point lead before getting outscored 35-16 to end the game in losing fashion. The Wizards will need a short memory, as they travel overnight to Phoenix. After starting the season with a 14-8 record, Washington has managed to go 1-6 over their last seven games. The Wizards have struggled on defense over this span, allowing opponents to score 115 points per game. In addition to their defensive challenges, Washington is struggling to get consistent offensive production out of anyone besides Bradley Beal. The Wizards have the 22nd-ranked offense in the NBA, scoring 105.7 points per game.

Phoenix is 27th in offensive rating and 26th in effective field goal percentage since Booker’s absence. Their defense is seventh in defensive rating and is allowing 105.5 points per game over the last six games. Deandre Ayton‘s defensive efforts will be key in this one, as Washington is fourth in the league in points in the paint (50.2). Fortunately for Phoenix, they rank in the top 10 for fewest points allowed in the paint. Look for Chris Paul and Ayton to overpower a struggling Wizards squad and win this game with a commanding lead. The Suns are 11-16 over/under on the season, and the under is 4-0-1 is their last five games. Take the under in Thursday’s matchup.

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Best Bet for Tonight’s Game: Total Under 214 Points

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Sean Blazek (aka SweatBets) has contributed to Awesemo since November 2021 and is currently a NBA Content Creator. His articles can be found on Awesemo under the NBA Betting section. Sean has a knack for identifying value in spreads and totals using an analytical approach to find his Best Bets. Follow him on Twitter @SweatBets and get ready to cash.

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