The Scout: Thursday NBA Tips

Denver Nuggets (25-11) @ Dallas Mavericks (23-13)

Denver have soared to 2nd in the West, two games ahead of the Luka Doncic led Mavericks.

The Nuggets were relatively slow out of the gates this season, thanks largely to the form Nikola Jokic, who looked sluggish and out of shape.

Denver live and die through the play of their star big man, who is looking more and more like his 2018/19-self – including a 47 point, zero turnover outing against the Hawks last game.

The Mavericks too rely heavily on one man; Luka Doncic. In just his second year he is averaging 29.7 points, 9.7 rebounds and 8.9 assists per game. Unfortunately for Dallas, their supporting cast isn’t as deep (or reliable) as the Nuggets’.

The Nuggets can beat you in so many different ways, and with Kristaps Porzingis ruled out for the clash, I think the Mavericks will struggle to trade blows with their Western Conference rivals.

Suggested Bet: Denver Win @ $2.25*

Houston Rockets (24-11) @ Atlanta Hawks (8-29)

Atlanta, with the worst record in the NBA, play host to the Rockets who have won seven of their last nine games.

Houston are averaging a league-high 119 points per game, led by James Harden’s 38ppg – including 44 in a win over the 76ers on Jan 4.

Trae Young has had a great sophomore season (28.9ppg) but he is a genuine liability on the defensive end, and there might not be a backcourt in the league better suited to exploit Young’s weaknesses than the duo of Westbrook and Harden.

The Rockets have an average winning margin of 14 points in their last five games and I see them being around this mark again against one of the worst defensive units in the league.

Suggested Bet: Houston 11+ (Margin) @ $2.25*

Chicago Bulls (13-24) @ New Orleans Pelicans (12-25)

Although the records are near-identical the form lines are not. Chicago have lost four straight, while the Pelicans have turned a corner, winning five of their last seven games.

The Pelicans are averaging 116 points per game over those seven games including 126 in a loss to the defensively minded Jazz.

Lonzo Ball might be in career best form. Back in the starting lineup, the former Big Baller is averaging 23 points, eight assists and six rebounds in his last four games – all while shooting 47% from deep.

The Bulls’ guards (LaVine, Satoransky, Dunn) aren’t renowned for being lockdown defenders, and if Lonzo’s three ball keeps dropping, I think he can continue his vein of form here.

Suggested Bet: Lonzo Ball 20+ Points @ $3.20*

*Odds correct as at 9.45am, 8th January 2020.

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