NBA Picks for December 28: Best Bets Today

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Giannis Antetokounmpo #34 of the Milwaukee Bucks. Patrick McDermott/Getty Images/AFP

Today’s NBA card has a lot to offer. Here are the two plays I most strongly recommend. Top sportsbooks have released their NBA odds for tonight’s NBA action. Two games, in particular, interest me as worth investing in Milwaukee vs. Orlando and Oklahoma City vs. Sacramento.
For reasons that I will explain, you should play the spread in the first game and the total in the second.

Milwaukee Bucks vs. Orlando Magic

Tuesday, December 28, 2021 -7:00 PM EST at Amway Center

Basic Numbers 

NBA Oddsmakers have trouble accounting for the immense difference in quality between Milwaukee's offense and teams with terrible defenses. To explain, the Bucks have played five games against teams that rank bottom-five in defensive rating.

Two of those games were against Orlando, two against Houston, and one against Charlotte.
The Bucks scored over 120 points in four of those games and 117 in the other. When facing a terrible defense, they consistently amass over 10 points more than their season scoring average.

Perimeter Defense 

Know for your best bets that, in terms of defensive rating, Orlando has a bottom-five defense.
To evaluate their matchup with Milwaukee, it is also significant to note that the Magic perimeter defense is poor. They do not do a good job of running opposing offenses off the three-point line.

Furthermore, they allow the sixth-highest frequency of open three-point attempts. Milwaukee will gladly take advantage because it attempts the fourth-most threes per game. Three-point shooting is important enough to the Bucks that they wanted to bring in Grayson Allen.

Allen is a high-volume, normally efficient shooter.  But the Bucks have so many other options that Allen can miss all of his threes --as he did on Saturday against Boston -- and the Bucks can still score 117 on a stronger Celtic defense.

While the driving and rim-attacking especially of perennial MVP candidate Giannis is always meaningful, the Bucks' greatest match-up edge on offense tonight will come behind the arc.
Since the Magic have a bottom-five defense and defend the perimeter poorly, they will have to score around 110 to keep up.

Magic Offense vs. Buck Defense 

However, Orlando's offense is depleted. The team's leading scorer by far, Cole Anthony, is out with an ankle injury. Moreover, Orlando's fourth- and fifth-leading scorers, Jalen Suggs and Terrence Ross are listed as 'out indefinitely.' 

Suggs fractured his thumb and Ross is in COVID protocols. This is already a terrible offense, one that ranks third-to-last in offensive rating. They lack adequate weaponry against a Buck defense featuring former Defensive Player of the Year Giannis and recent All-Defensive first-teamer Jrue Holiday. For the above reasons, invest in Milwaukee for your sports betting.

NBA Pick: Bucks -12.5 (-108) with Heritage Sports (visit our Heritage Sports Review)

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Sacramento Kings

Tuesday, December 28, 2021- 10:00 PM EST at Golden 1 Center

Sacramento's Perimeter Defense 

Sacramento has cultivated a reputation for having an awful defense. This reputation is not without justification. But "awful" is already baked into the high total set by oddsmakers for this game.
I like the King's defense tonight because I think it will play well for match-up-related reasons.

To explain, Sacramento is highly attentive to the perimeter. The Kings are seventh-best at limiting opposing three-point attempts. Additionally, they allow the fourth-lowest frequency of open three-point attempts and the fifth-lowest frequency of wide-open ones. They will match up well against an offense that relies rather heavily on making threes.

The Thunder Offense 

Oklahoma City has just such an offense: the Thunder attempt the ninth-most threes per game.
The Thunder rely on shooting threes out of necessity. They have minimal ability to attack the rim. In fact, they suffer the lowest field goal percentage within five feet of the basket.

They are uniquely awful in the area where shot attempts are supposed to be a higher percentage.
Against Sacramento's cautious perimeter defense, they won't be able to shoot threes, either.

Sacramento's Scoring Rut

Currently, the King offense is slumping. In their last three games, the Kings have scored 98 at Golden State, 89 vs. the Clippers, and 102 in a blowout loss vs. Memphis. Obviously, the first two teams own superb defenses, but, in terms of defensive rating, the Thunder are comparable to and slightly better than Memphis.

Match-up-wise, Sacramento loves to run the pick-and-roll for the ball-handler, trying to help especially its speedy starting point guard to penetrate inside. But besides the fact that the Thunder rank third at limiting opposing PPP (points per possession) on this play type, Sacramento's speedy starting point guard is really struggling.

De'Aaron Fox is less efficient and generally less productive this year. Without Fox's characteristic ability to translate his physical explosiveness into points, Sacramento's offense is significantly worse off.

Oklahoma City's strong ball-screen defense will further deepen the Kings' offensive difficulties.
For the above reasons, expect a low-scoring game with your NBA picks.

NBA Pick: Under 219 (+100) with BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Under 219 (+100)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.