Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 10:30 AM EST.
New Orleans +138 over MIAMI
12:00 PM EST. This game tips off at Noon on Christmas Day and features a Miami team largely running it back after a somewhat surprising run to the NBA Finals in the Bubble last fall. It’s very early in the season and last year’s results will largely influence the start of this year, thus making us early sellers on the Heat. Miami is coming off of the shortest offseason in league history, having played 21 games in the bubble. The Heat’s last campaign did not end until October 11. With a historic lack of recovery time, head coach Erik Spoelstra and a multitude of Heat players have stressed that the team will have to ease into this season. That’s not a good look. Now throw in some Christmas cheer last night, a noon start today and a quick turnaround after Wednesday and we’re going to trust that Miami needs more time. Their coach said so. We might see the Heat’s key players receiving less than typical minutes.
New Orleans, by contrast, is hungry, rested (they did not make the playoffs last year) and talented on the back of a reportedly unburdened Zion Williamson. New head coach Stan Van Gundy has made it his mission in New Orleans to emphasize the importance of defense. At the beginning of training camp, he said: “Day 1 you want to set the tone. For us, it was defense, first and foremost. I thought it was important this year, with me coming in new, that we went right to that priority first.” Van Gundy is comfortable with his roster, including the idea of playing Zion Williamson alongside new addition Steven Adams. The Pelicans had a terrific first game of the year against the Raptors. They dominated from the start of the third quarter to the final bell and we’re going to trust them to keep that momentum going in what has to feel like a fresh and great start to the year. Miami is ripe to get beat.
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New Orleans +138 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.76)