NBA Monday: Greg Frank picks the Bulls vs Thunder, Trail Blazers vs Suns and likes Bucks vs Mavericks as Dallas learns to play without Luka

Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo reacts after a dunk during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)
Milwaukee Bucks' Giannis Antetokounmpo reacts after a dunk during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Cleveland Cavaliers Saturday, Dec. 14, 2019, in Milwaukee. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)Associated Press

0-1 Sunday. 43-48-1 overall.

Bulls (+6.5) @ Thunder (209.5)

Pick: Bulls +6.5

Since when do the Oklahoma City Thunder lay this many points? Last time I checked, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden don’t reside in the Sooner State anymore. Oklahoma City has been favored by more than 6.5 three times this year and failed to cover in all three games and lost one of them outright. The Thunder return home after a four-game road trip tonight and we’ve mentioned previously how the first game back home after a road trip of at least a week can feel like another road game as the players readjust to the routine that comes with a home game. That factor is often not accounted for in the line and at this number, we certainly don’t think that it’s being considered. The Bulls also come into this one undervalued. Chicago has covered three of its last four games including an outright win over the Clippers. Also included in those covers for the Bulls are competitive contests with Toronto and Miami. Oklahoma City isn’t close to that kind of competition so there’s no reason to think the Bulls can’t cover another point spread tonight on the road.

Mavericks (+10.5) @ Bucks (227)

Pick: Bucks 1st quarter -4

This one’s just as simple as fading a team without arguably the best player in the NBA. Eventually, the books will get a handle on what to do with the Mavericks sans Luka Doncic. But in the first quarter of the first full game without him against a title contender, the Mavericks are sure to start slow. They’ll have to change their identity and that takes time when the new identity doesn’t include a player as good as Doncic. We feel pretty confident that Milwaukee gets off to the better start on Monday at home.

Trail Blazers (+1) @ Suns (228.5)

Pick: Under 228.5

Devin Booker popped up on the injury report with a forearm injury recently and is listed as a game-time decision for tonight’s game against Portland. However, even with the status of Phoenix’s best player in doubt, there’s been enough Suns money to move this line one point off the pick ‘em opener. Portland is still getting the majority of the action so that kind of reverse line movement is often worth following or staying away from. Our preferred angle is on this total and we like it under 228.5. With Booker’s status in doubt, it goes without saying that if he’s limited or doesn’t play, the Suns won’t score as much. And when it comes to Portland, they just haven’t shown much life this season and have been one of the league’s bigger disappointments two months in. Therefore, we wouldn’t expect them to flip the switch and shoot the lights out on the road against a sub-.500 team. Stay away from the side in this one and take the under.

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