NBA Predictions and Best Bets – December 31, 2020

| December 31, 2020 7:01 am PDT

It’s only a matter of time before we can turn our backs on the horror show that was 2020, and bring in a New Year with 2021.

Will all of the bad that came with 2020 magically go away? But there’s worthwhile symbolism attached to a shedding of old, unwanted skin of sorts.

Thursday is the final day of 2020, and it’s also a day where sports bettors can look to start anew. Hopefully with some winning wagers in the world of basketball betting, of course.

Before you start partying like it’s 2021, see who is gracing the NBA betting schedule on the last night of 2020.

  • Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Indiana Pacers
  • Chicago Bulls vs. Washington Wizards
  • Philadelphia 76ers vs. Orlando Magic
  • Sacramento Kings vs. Houston Rockets
  • New York Knicks vs. Toronto Raptors
  • New Orleans Pelicans vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Phoenix Suns vs. Utah Jazz

By the looks of it, this is one heck of a way to close out the 2020 NBA season, and march forward into 2021.

There are seven games on the schedule, while big names like James Harden, Russell Westbrook, and Zion Williamson are all scheduled to hit the floor.

For an idea as to how to bet on said games, read on for Thursday’s NBA predictions and top betting picks.

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Indiana Pacers Predictions

  • Pacers to beat the Cavaliers
  • Predicted total: 210-215

Who would have thought we’d be getting a battle between two 3-1 teams when looking at the Cavs and Pacers?

Yet, here we are.

Both teams have looked good, but Indiana projects better. They have more defensive potential, they can match up with Cleveland, and they’re at home. The Cavs could be a decent bet ATS, but the Pacers are the better bet to win.

Chicago Bulls vs. Washington Wizards Predictions

  • Wizards to beat the Bulls
  • Predicted total: 230-235

Chicago upended the Wizards in the last game for these two teams, but I find it hard to believe they win the second meeting.

Washington continues to have defensive issues, but you have to imagine that Russell Westbrook and co. eventually figure things out.

With the Wiz looking at an 0-5 start, I think they buckle down and get the win here at home.

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Orlando Magic Predictions

  • 76ers to beat the Magic
  • Predicted total: 210-215

Joel Embiid is expected to be on hand for a tense showdown with the Magic. Philly has a chance to get to 4-1, while the hosting Magic are inexplicably undefeated.

That’s the lone perfect team in all of the NBA, mind you.

It’s shocking, to say the least, but it doesn’t feel sustainable. That’s especially the case against a more talented Philly squad.

Sacramento Kings vs. Houston Rockets Predictions

  • Rockets to beat the Kings
  • Predicted total: 220-225

James Harden has played lights out through two games, but it hasn’t translated to wins for the 0-2 Rockets. Houston will play host to the Kings in search of their first win of the year, and they’ll be getting some reinforcements.

John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, and others should be back with the team after COVID-19 protocol kept them away. It could take time for the Rockets to mesh, but I still think the extra bodies alone gives Houston an edge at home.

New York Knicks vs. Toronto Raptors Predictions

  • Raptors to beat the Knicks
  • Predicted total: 210-215

New York has been pretty impressive during a 2-2 start, but they’ll have their hands full as they take on a desperate Raptors team.

Kyle Lowry may need to be a bit more aggressive to push Toronto over the top, but I find it hard to believe the Raptors fall to 0-4 here.

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Oklahoma City Thunder Predictions

  • Pelicans to beat the Thunder
  • Predicted total: 220-225

The Pels have a chance to get over the .500 hump on Thursday, as they take on a pretty weak Thunder squad.

OKC has actually been solid so far in 2020, but the more talented team should prevail here.

Phoenix Suns vs. Utah Jazz Predictions

  • Suns to beat the Jazz
  • Predicted total: 220-225

The last game of the night may honestly be the best, as it features two teams with just one loss each.

Chris Paul has given the Suns quite the defensive edge, and he could have them off to a 4-1 start here. Taking down a solid Jazz team on the road won’t be easy, but I think Phoenix can do it.

Best NBA Bets for Thursday, December 31st

  • 76ers to Win (-150)
  • Rockets (-5) -115
  • Thunder (+5.5) -115
  • Sums to Win (+140)

You can roll with my NBA predictions for Thursday if you want, but this list above features my top NBA betting picks for the day.

I really like Philly to be the first team to beat Orlando. It’s tough to win on the road, but the Sixers have looked fantastic and Joel Embiid is the perfect counter to Nikola Vucevic.

Houston has chemistry issues to iron out, but they’re at home, and I’m not a big believer in the Kings. I think the Rockets get it going and roll to their first win of the season.

OKC just provides some nice value at home, as they’re slightly underrated in terms of their competitiveness. Phoenix offers immense upside as a road dog. Utah will be a tough out, but the Suns are the better overall team.

If you like these picks (or have some of your own), head over to the best betting sites to place some bets on Thursday.

Noah Davis

Noah Davis is one of the more diverse writers at GamblingSites.com. Like many of his colleagues, he's a huge fan of both football and basketball. But he also writes about box office records, TV show prop bets, DFS, and all kinds of other subjects.

When it comes to the NFL, Noah's favorite team is the Cleveland Browns. He enjoys cheering them on with his wife and daughter.

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