Two NBA Winning Wagers For Thursday, December 15

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The NBA takes a backseat to the NFL’s Thursday Night Football with just a four-game slate. That said, there are some juicy games in the Association Thursday. My favorite looks are in the Suns-Clippers and Heat-Rockets matchups. (The bets are broken down in order of most to least favorite looks).

Phoenix Suns (16-12) at Los Angeles Clippers (17-13)

LAC has won and covered three straight games and that’s not an aberration because the Clippers are getting healthier. With all due respect to Suns All-Star Devin Booker, LAC has the two best players on the floor.

Clippers All-Stars Kawhi Leonard and Paul George are building continuity. Kawhi is knocking off rust from being sidelined since the 2021 NBA playoffs with a knee injury.

Per CleaningTheGlass.com (CTG), LAC is scoring 18.8 more points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time when Kawhi is on the floor and is +15.4 when PG is in the game.

The Los Angeles Clippers walk on to the court during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles Clippers walk onto the court during the game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles. (Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)

Furthermore, Phoenix has been bad recently. The Suns have lost six of their last seven games — 1-5 against the spread (ATS) — including five straight.

Over the past two weeks, Phoenix is 29th in non-garbage time defensive rating, per CTG. The Clippers are 11-5 straight up (SU) vs. bottom-10 defenses.

Also, both of these teams play at a slow pace: Phoenix ranks 22nd in pace and LAC ranks 23rd. But, the Clippers have a better shot quality on both ends of the floor, per CTG. When these teams slow it down, I trust LAC to get better looks than the Suns.

There are valid concerns about who will suit up for both squads. LAC could certainly do their “load management” BS with this being the second of a back-to-back (B2B). Booker and Suns big Deandre Ayton are both “questionable” to play.

But, I’m willing to gamble even though the injury situations for both teams are unknown. LAC leads the NBA in bench points per game (PPG) and coach Ty Lue is one of the best X’s and O’s coaches in the league.

NBA Best Bet #1: Clippers (-120) ML at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -140 before laying up to 2.5 points with LAC

  • (Word to the wise: Wait closer to tipoff or until the final injury reports are released before making a wager in Suns-Clippers).
The Los Angeles Clippers' odds vs. the Phoenix Suns from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Thursday, December 15th at 12:45 p.m. ET.
The Los Angeles Clippers’ odds vs. the Phoenix Suns from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Thursday, December 15th at 12:45 p.m. ET.

Miami Heat (14-15) at Houston Rockets (9-18)

Hand up: The Heat ATS is a square bet and I know it.

Miami is on the second of a B2B; the Heat are 1-4 ATS on no rest and 2-6 ATS when playing with a rest disadvantage. The Rockets on the other hand are 7-3-1 ATS as a home underdog this season and 4-2 ATS when playing with a rest advantage.

However, Miami is ranked seventh in defensive rating, second in defensive turnover rate (TOV%), fifth in defensive rebounding rate, and allows the fewest paint PPG.

Miami Heat All-Star Jimmy Butler is defended by Houston Rockets SG Jalen Green at FTX Arena in Miami.
Miami Heat All-Star Jimmy Butler is defended by Houston Rockets SG Jalen Green at FTX Arena in Miami. (Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Houston has the third-worst effective field goal shooting in the NBA and the worst offensive TOV%. Also, the Rockets rely on crashing the glass, attacking the paint, and getting to the foul line.

Not only does Miami protect the paint and close out defensive possessions by grabbing boards but the Heat are fourth in defensive FT/FGA rate as well.

The bottom line is unless Houston has a random good shooting night, Miami’s defense is going to shut down the Rockets.

NBA Best Bet #2: Heat -3.5 (-110) ML at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -4

The Miami Heat's odds at the Houston Rockets from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Thursday, December 15th at 1:45 p.m. ET.
The Miami Heat’s odds at the Houston Rockets from DraftKings Sportsbook as of Thursday, December 15th at 1:45 p.m. ET.

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Written by Geoff Clark

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