The NBA gets into the heart of its schedule starting January 2. There are some great matchups to choose from this week! Will Oklahoma City take it to The Beard and the rest of the Houston Rockets on Thursday, Jan. 5? What team’s style will prevail on Friday, Jan. 6 when Memphis travels to Oakland to battle Golden State? Can the Grizzlies hold off Utah in a nationally televised home game this Sunday?
New Year NBA Picks
Oklahoma City at Houston
When: Thursday, Jan. 5 at 8:00 pm ET
Where: Toyota Center, Houston, TX
Analysis: Thunder vs Rockets must be the premier NBA game this week. The best players in the NBA, Houston’s James Harden and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook face off in TNT’s highlighted Thursday night game on Jan. 5.
Russell is Mr. Do Everything for Oklahoma City. He averages a triple-double on the season. He’s become close to an even money favorite to win the NBA MVP. But, James Harden averages more assists than Russell does. Not only that, but Harden has proven capable of taking games over just like Russell does.
When it comes down to it, the Rockets are likely to win this game because Harden’s supporting cast, particularly defensive master Patrick Beverley, work slightly better with The Beard than Russell’s supporting cast works with him. Harden can concentrate on one part of his game if Beverley is available to play.
I like Houston to cover the spread ATS in this match up.
Memphis at Golden State
When: Friday, Jan. 6 at 7:30 pm ET
Where: Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
Analysis: At 22 and 14, Memphis has proven to be a tough team to handle for any squad. The key for Memphis is going to be the health of center Marc Gasol. Gasol is listed as questionable for Tuesday’s battle versus the Lakers.
Gasol should be healthy for this Friday match up against Golden State. I’m handicapping this as if Gasol will play. There’s no player on Golden State’s team that can match up with Marc. In the last battle between these two, Gasol proved that when scoring 19 points, dishing 6 assists, grabbing 8 boards, and blocking 2 shots.
If Gasol plays, and he should, Golden State could be in for a shock. Memphis is arguably the best defensive team in the NBA. I think that they beat Golden State straight up again, like they did 110 to 89 on Dec. 10, this Friday.
Utah at Memphis
When: Sunday, Jan. 8 at 5:00 pm ET
Where: FedEx Forum, Memphis, TN
TV: NBA TV
Analysis: Utah travels to Memphis on Sunday, two days after the Grizzlies battle the Warriors in Oakland. What’s going to happen when the two best defensive teams in the NBA battle it out on Sunday, Jan. 8?
Utah allows 94.7 points per game. Memphis allows 97.6 points per game. The Grizzlies average more on offense than Utah does. That could be what ends up happening in this battle on Jan. 8, but that’s not the way that I’m going.
I think that Memphis has trouble versus Utah because Memphis doesn’t know to handle squads that play defense as well as they do. The last time that these two teams faced off, Memphis lost 73 to 82 to Utah.
I like Utah again in what should be an upset straight up win.