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NBA expert Jonathan Macri is here with his prediction and picks for the Wednesday night matchups between the Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers and Hawks vs. Magic.
ANALYSIS

Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers Prediction: Can You Trust the Cavs Amid Their Injury Crisis?

When: Wednesday, December 22, 7:30 p.m. ET

Where to Watch: NBA League Pass

Spread: Celtics -6

Total: 216.5

Click Here For Celtics vs Cavaliers Odds

Celtics vs. Cavaliers Prediction

If you've been reading these columns all year, you know that I'm not above suggesting a play for the easy money. For the last month, that has meant continuing to take advantage of the continued disrespect the Cleveland Cavaliers are getting from the folks in Vegas and hitting them with everything you've got.

A reminder: the Cavs have covered 14 games in a row, easily a high for any team this season. They have the best net rating in the NBA over that time and are tied for the second-most wins in that span with 10. Not only have they won six in a row, but they have done so by double-digit points each time. They are as much of a juggernaut as the Eastern Conference has to offer.

For all those reasons, an opportunity to take them getting this many points against an under-.500 team would be the easiest call of the season, except for the fact that the Cavs were getting here isn't the same Cavs team that we've seen through 31 games.

Like many teams around the league over the last week, Cleveland has finally been hit hard by COVID, to the point that their Saturday game against the Hawks was postponed. As a result, they are currently down eight players, including Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley, and Isaac Okoro, plus part-time rotation players like Denzel Valentine, Ed Davis, Lamar Stevens, and Dylan Windler.

They are left with a few notable names, including hopeful first-time All-Star Darius Garland, the rejuvenated Kevin Love, super-sub Ricky Rubio, and stretch big Lauri Markkanen. Still, outside of those four, Cedi Osman and Dean Wade, everyone who sees time for them will be a G-League caliber player. Are those top four enough to topple a Boston squad that can't seem to find any consistency?

The Celtics aren't exactly a picture of health themselves, with Josh Richardson, Al Horford, and Grant Williams in protocols. The big news (literally) is that Robert Williams is back after being sorely missed against the Sixers on Monday, a game he sat out due to personal reasons.

Betting against the Cavs has been akin to lighting money on fire since before Thanksgiving, but their size has been such a huge asset all season long, and it feels like this might be too steep a hill to climb, on the road, against a team that has the 9th best net rating in the league since November 9. So give the points at home.

Celtics vs. Cavaliers Pick

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Atlanta Hawks vs. Orlando Magic Prediction

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

Where to Watch: NBA TV

Hawks vs. Magic Odds If you like your NBA gambling escapade to resemble a game of roulette, I welcome you to tonight's matchup between the Orlando Magic and the Atlanta Hawks.

Let's start with Orlando. As Keith Smith pointed out earlier today, the Magic have four NBA players who are healthy ahead of tonight's game: Franz Wagner, Chuma Okeke, Robin Lopez, and Gary Harris. However, the rest of their roster is filled with hardship guys, and then Cole Anthony and Wendell Carter Jr are questionable.

That all sounds pretty bad until you get to the Hawks, who are nearly in as bad of a state. Trae Young, Clint Capela, De'Andre Hunter, Danilo Gallinari, Solomon Hill, and Lou Williams – more than half of their healthy rotation, including their offense and defensive foundation – are sidelined. John Collins, Kevin Huerter, Cam Reddish, Gorgui Dieng, Onyeka Okongwu, and Delon Wright are available, while Bogdan Bogdanovic is probable. Like the Magic, the rest of the roster is filled with call-ups.

This is a game screaming to take the points in, with the one caveat being if Cole Anthony can't give it a go. He missed their last two games, but it seems like he wants to do everything possible to get back on the floor and continue his stealth Most Improved Player campaign. Either way, it's notable that Orlando has the seventh-best road margin against the spread in the league. They usually fight hard, and that's probably enough against what's left of the Hawks. So take the points on the road.

Hawks vs. Magic Pick

Article Author

ROI N/A
NBA

Dean of Knicks Film School, host: KFS Pod, co-host: Pick N Pod. There isn't much about Knicks basketball that Jonathan doesn't know and he's here to break down the big games each and every week.

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