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Sean B’s Best NBA Bets Today: Picks & Predictions for 12/31/2021

Sean Blazek

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Friday presents an exciting New Year’s Eve slate consisting of 10 NBA games across the board with action throughout the entire day. Suns – Celtics kick it off at 1 p.m. ET, and the year closes out with the Trail Blazers – Lakers. Rosters continue to fluctuate day after day, so keep an eye on player updates to stay up to date on which players are active. Let’s dive into the best bets to make tonight and overall NBA betting tips for Friday, Dec. 31.

Best New Year’s Eve NBA Betting Picks Tonight | Dec. 31

Hawks vs. Cavaliers

The Atlanta Hawks travel to Cleveland on Friday to take on a banged-up Cavaliers squad. The Hawks have lost five of their last six games and will look to end a three-game skid. The Cavaliers are on the second night of a back-to-back. Cleveland was defeated on the road last night in Washington 110-93. This was Cleveland’s first game without Ricky Rubio, who tore his ACL on Tuesday during their game against the Pelicans. Cleveland has impressed teams around the league, holding a 20-15 record despite playing through injuries to several key players throughout the season.

Cleveland will be challenged once again tonight, as they will be without Rubio, Colin Sexton, Jarrett Allen and Cedi Osman. The Cavaliers have had their success against the Hawks, winning five of the last six games. The Cavaliers rank third in defensive rating and allow 100.2 points per game to opponents at home. Cleveland has an excellent perimeter defense, allowing the second-fewest 3-pointers made per game to opponents (10.9). The Cavaliers will rely on Kevin Love and Evan Mobley to pick up their offensive production if they wish to stay competitive in tonight’s matchup. Love and Mobley both have back-to-back performances of 20-plus points each, well above their season averages.

The Hawks have been hit hard with COVID. They are without three starters and several key bench players. This has been a major contributor to their recent struggles. They were able to get Trae Young back for their last two games, even though they failed to pick up a win since his return. Young leads Atlanta in scoring and assists with averages of 27.3 points and 9.3 assists per game. Clint Capela is the leading rebounder with an average of 12.8 rebounds per game. The Hawks are scoring an average of 110.1 points per game while shooting 45.9% overall and 37.9% from 3-point territory.

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The Hawks rank 24th in pace over the last five games. Cleveland will be without their top three scorers on the season. Three of their last four matchups have ended with a total under 200 points. The under has cashed in 62.9% of Cleveland’s games this season and 12 of 17 games at home. The Cavaliers are one of the best defensive teams at home. With all the offensive production missing from both teams, expect this game to be a low-scoring affair. Take the under in tonight’s matchup inside Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse.

Best Bet for Tonight’s Game: Total Under 217 Points

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Bulls vs. Pacers

The red-hot Chicago Bulls look to take on the Indiana Pacers in a division battle on New Year’s Eve. The Bulls come into this matchup winners of five straight and have a 22-10 record, second in the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the Pacers have lost three of their last four games and sit at the bottom of the conference with a record of 14-21. The Pacers are 2-5 against division opponents and 1-1 in the series matchup this season versus the Bulls.

The Pacers will be without Malcom Brogdon, Chris Duarte and Jeremy Lamb, who are all in the league’s health and safety protocols. Brogdon is the leading scorer this season for the Pacers, averaging 19 points per game, so they will look to Domantas Sabonis and Caris LeVert to lead the team on offense. Indiana averages 107.8 points on 45.8% shooting and allows 107.4 points on 46.2% shooting.

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The Bulls offense has been on fire, led by the dominant duo of Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan. Both players are averaging 26 points per game apiece, while the team averages 110.8 points per game on 47.6% from the field. This team will be a tough challenge for a Pacers defense that ranks bottom 10. Chicago will be without Alex Caruso (foot) and Lonzo Ball (COVID), which may presents some defensive concerns for the Bulls. Fortunately for them, the Pacers backcourt is missing some key pieces as well due to COVID.

The Bulls’ offensive power should prove to be too much for a banged-up Pacers squad to keep up with, especially from the perimeter. If the Pacers want to have any chance at victory tonight, they will need to take advantage on the boards with Sabonis and Myles Turner down low. The shooting of DeRozan and LaVine will outshine a Pacers team that finds their defensive strength on the interior. Brogdon and Duarte not being on the floor is a big loss for the Pacers in a game where they can fall behind quickly if their offense gets off to a slow start. Lay the points with the Bulls and watch for them to cruise to their sixth straight win.

Best Bet for Tonight’s Game: Chicago Bulls -3

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Sean Blazek (aka SweatBets) has contributed to Awesemo since November 2021 and is currently an NBA Betting Content Creator. His articles can be found on Awesemo as well as OddsShopper under the NBA Betting Articles section. Sean has a knack for identifying value in spreads and totals using an analytical approach to find his Best Bets. Follow him on Twitter @SweatBets and get ready to cash.

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