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NBA Three at 3: Best Bets for Wednesday, January 5

By Zachary Cohen
Nuggets star Nikola Jokic
Nuggets star Nikola Jokic is averaging 25.7 points, 14.0 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game this year.
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday, January 5, basketball fans will have 11 NBA games to keep track of, and that loaded slate features the Golden State Warriors facing the Dallas Mavericks and the Denver Nuggets hosting the Utah Jazz in an ESPN doubleheader. With that in mind, keep reading for our three best bets for the night: 

1. Thunder at Timberwolves - While the Thunder's 13-23 straight-up record might not be all that inspiring, the team is actually 23-13 against the spread this season. That record includes a 10-7 against-the-spread mark on the road and Oklahoma City also comes into this game after having covered in seven of its last nine games. On top of that, the Thunder are 8-0 against the spread when coming off a game with a combined score of 190 or fewer points this season, and they're also 14-3 against the spread after having allowed 105 or less points. Not only do the trends suggest that Oklahoma City is the play in this game, but Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is also probable for this one. With that, the Thunder will have the best player on the floor, and they don't even have to win this game. They just have to keep it somewhat close. And if you need a bit more, the team is also 5-1 straight-up and 4-1-1 against the spread against the Timberwolves since the start of the 2019-20 season. 

THE PICK: Thunder +9

2. Spurs at Celtics - The Spurs have lost four in a row coming into this game, so there are real reasons to be doubting them right now. However, San Antonio is set to get Dejounte Murray back from the league's COVID-19 health and safety protocols, and Murray is averaging 17.8 points, 8.8 assists, 8.4 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game this year. The guard has truly been electric on both ends of the floor, and he should be able to stabilize this Spurs team. While the Celtics are tied for sixth in the league in defensive rating this season, the Spurs are ninth in the league in offensive rating over the last 10 games. This Spurs group has the ability to get good looks against anybody in the league, and the team should be able to turn in a nice offensive performance against the Celtics. That'll make it rather easy on San Antonio to keep this game close enough to cover, as the spread on this one is just far too big. Over the last two seasons, the Celtics are 10-22 against the spread when coming off a home win. On top of that, the team is just 8-20 against the spread when revenging a straight-up loss versus an opponent as a favorite in that span. That's right: San Antonio earned a 96-88 win as a 4.5-point underdog when these teams met on November 26. That's just another reason to take the Spurs to hang around here. 

THE PICK: Spurs +8 

3. Jazz at Nuggets - It's not going to be easy for the Nuggets to earn a win over the Jazz tonight, but they definitely have what it takes to do it. This Denver team beat the Golden State Warriors at the Chase Center a week ago and the team now gets to head home after playing six of its last seven on the road. The Nuggets are going to be pumped up to be playing in front of their fans, and the team should get a special performance out of Nikola Jokic in this one. Jokic has never backed down from the Rudy Gobert challenge, and he should have more help than usual from his perimeter players. The Jazz will be without Joe Ingles in tonight's game, meaning that Utah is down one of its better wing defenders. That should make life easier on a guy like Will Barton, who has had a great season for Denver. The Nuggets also happen to be 5-2 against the spread in their last seven games following straight-up losses and they are also facing a Jazz team that is just 3-10 against the spread after having won three of its last four games this season. 

THE PICK: Nuggets +3.5 

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