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NBA Three at 3: Best Bets for Wednesday, January 12

By Zachary Cohen
Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan
Bulls forward DeMar DeRozan is a legitimate MVP candidate this season.
Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

After going 1-1-1 with our three picks last night, the NBA Three at 3 is still 5-3-1 against the spread over the last three days and we'll look to dish out at least two winners with tonight's set of plays. The slate is headlined by the Dallas Mavericks facing the New York Knicks and then the Chicago Bulls hosting the Brooklyn Nets in an ESPN doubleheader. 

1. Celtics at Pacers - Over the last two seasons, the Celtics are 15-27 against the spread when facing teams that average at least 23.0 assists per game. Boston is also 10-24 against the spread when coming off a home win over the last two years, and the team is 1-10 against the spread after allowing 105 or fewer points in back-to-back games in that span. What that really shows is that this Celtics team doesn't exactly string together good performances very often, and they now face a team that moves the ball rather well and that has been an issue for Boston lately. The Celtics are just a complete mess right now and it's hard to pinpoint when that might change. They're relatively healthy compared to other teams at the moment and both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are playing. Those two, however, don't seem to have great chemistry and the team is missing emotional leader Marcus Smart tonight. That gives the Pacers a real chance to come out and get this win, and it also helps that the Pacers have an elite rim protector in Myles Turner. He can make things difficult on Boston's wings when they attack the rim, and the Pacers then have Domantas Sabonis to play through on offense. He could be in for a big game in this one and Indiana should show up at home here. There's some money line value with the Pacers, too. 

THE PICK: Pacers +3

2. Mavericks at Knicks - Everybody in the world wanted to see Kristaps Porzingis on the floor in this game, but that unfortunately isn't going to happen. Still, New York's ridiculous fans will make sure this is a hostile environment for the Mavericks, as we've seen some electric environments inside Madison Square Garden over the last few years. Look for the Knicks to feed off the energy and ultimately pick up a victory. Over the last two years, New York is 32-13 against the spread in games with a line between +3 and -3. That record moves to 21-6 against the spread when you just break it down to home games. Meanwhile, the Mavericks are 21-35 against the spread when coming off a home game in that span. Luka Doncic and Jalen Brunson are going to be problems for the Knicks in this game, but they might not be enough to get Dallas over the hump. Over the last 10 games, the Knicks are seventh in the league in defensive rating and they are going to lock in on that end of the court. That will have the Mavericks missing Porzingis, as they can really use his ability to make shots and space the floor. 

THE PICK: Knicks +2.5

3. Nets at Bulls - This meeting between the Nets and Bulls should be an extremely fun one to watch, and it wouldn't surprise too many people if this ended up being a preview of the Eastern Conference Finals. Chicago is the team that is playing better at the moment, with the Bulls coming into this game after having won 10 of their last 11 games. Meanwhile, the Nets have lost five of their last seven and are having trouble fitting in all the pieces that have been in and out of the lineup as of late. Brooklyn will have Kyrie Irving in this one, as the star is eligible to play on the road. But with James Harden returning after having missed Irving's last game, there will once again be question marks as to how this team can best fit together. Those same problems do not exist on the other end of the floor, where the Bulls have Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic clicking on all cylinders. And even Coby White is thriving in his role as instant offense off the bench. Until the Nets start to gel, it's hard to envision them beating the Bulls — especially in front of a great Chicago crowd. Chicago also happens to be 8-1 against the spread when playing at home after another home game. 

THE PICK: Bulls -1.5 

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