For our picks for Dec 18, tonight’s NBA action starts off with what could be a tough game between the Miami Heat and the Philadelphia 76ers.  The Heat are 19-8 and have had several good runs this season.  They’re looking at the 20-8 76ers in an away game that has them suffering from several injuries and facing a team that has had a couple of days off to regain its strength after falling to the Brooklyn Nets this past Sunday 109-89.

Daily Picks Dec 18: Heats vs 76ers

The Heat will be down four starters tonight, including Goran Dragic and Justise Winslow.  Given that both are consistently high scorers, their absences will certainly be felt.  The 76ers, on the other hand, are coming in at almost full strength and will find a few slots against the disabled Heat.

Joel Embiid was out for Philadelphia against Brooklyn due to sickness, but he’s back in the game now.  The All-Star is a key component to the team’s success, and he is apparently now well enough to be back on the court.  Philly is the clear winner tonight, no matter how you try to look at the game, driven by the talent of Embiid and Josh Richardson.  Given that they’re also 14-0 at home, the 76ers are worth the -6.5 spread.

Mavericks vs Celtics

The Dallas Mavericks are up against the Boston Celtics tonight, as well, and things could get interesting ahead of the final buzzer.  The Mavs are going to have to play without Luka Doncic – again – and the Celtics have the fourth-best defense in the NBA.  They’ve also had six days to get ready for tonight’s contest.

The Celtics lost their last game, a battle against the 76ers.  Of course, that was when Embiid was in, and everything changes when he’s sidelined.  Tonight, Boston plays without point guard Marcus Smart, which could counter the absence of Doncic on the other side of the ball somewhat, but not quite.  In the end, the Mavs will take the win and will easily cover the spread.  For our pick for Dec 18, the over at 217 is worth it, given that both teams have played to it recently and the Mavs have hit it 17 times this season.

Nuggets vs Magic

The Denver Nuggets, 17-8, are facing the 12-15 Orlando Magic at home and shouldn’t have too much trouble.  Denver dominates Orlando on offense and defense and is on an awesome home winning streak.  It is in the middle of a five-game homestead after winning three in a row and will look to add victory number four tonight.

The Magic haven’t been as fortunate.  They’ve been on the road for four games and have lost four of their last five contests.  With Nikola Vucevic now back on the court from his ankle injury, he can help the Magic try to break their losing streak and deliver a win.  Unfortunately, it’s going to take a lot more than a healthy Vucevic to make that happen.  The Nuggets are up 8-2 against the Magic in their last ten games and have consistently outperformed in every category.

Denver is going to easily cover the 9.5 spread tonight.  They’re 14-6 straight up across their last 20 games and 8-1 in their last nine home games.  They’re going to come out blasting tonight and are going to drive up the score.  The over is 203.5 and is a good place to put some gambling dollars.

Warriors vs Trail Blazers

The Golden State Warriors were just singled out by Sports Business Journal as the NBA’s Franchise of the Decade.  That doesn’t mean that they’re the best team of the league this year, though, as their 5-23 record shows.  They have to go up against the Portland Trail Blazers tonight and are going to find a lot of difficulty, even though they already beat the team once this season.

The Warriors are once again without Stephen Curry and will also most likely have to play without Eric Paschall.  Without their support, the Trail Blazers have an additional boost that will help offset their own injuries, including those to Zach Collins and Rodney Hood.  This should be a tight game, though, even though Portland takes the win with a -9.5 spread.

It will come down to the wire and a wager on the over at 220 is not a bad move.  Despite Portland seeing totals that have gone under in four of their past five games, the Warriors are going to slip, and the Trail Blazers are going to run away with the ball.

So, that’s it for our daily picks and parlays for Dec 18. Come back tomorrow for more from the team at Sports Intel.