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NBA Best Bets Today - Free Holiday Picks for Thursday, Dec. 22

CJ McCollum over 32.5 points + assists (-105) vs. Spurs

McCollum is finally starting to turn his shooting around. He should be able to continue that improved play Thursday. He's going up against the NBA's worst defensive team, and with Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson both sidelined, the guard will have to take on more playmaking duties. With Zion and Ingram off the court this season, McCollum sees a +7.1% usage increase up to 30.8%, taking 20.9 shots and dishing 6.8 assists per 36 minutes. Over the past six games, he's averaging 24.5 points and 5.5 assists.

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Bradley Beal O23.5 points vs. Jazz

This number is lower than I would've guessed, so I'm approaching with some caution, but assuming Kristaps Porzingis (illness) is out again tonight, I like Beal's chances to cash in against one of the NBA's worst defenses. Utah is fifth-worst in Defensive Rating. Meanwhile, Beal has gone over this number in nine of his last 10 healthy games.

Two-leg parlay: Spurs +8.5 versus the Pelicans (-110) and Jonas Valanciunas double-double (-174) for +230 total odds

With only two games to bet on Thursday, I'm opting for a same-game parlay for the first contest. The Pelicans will be without Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, their two best players. The Spurs were able to win in their last game without Keldon Johnson, who is likely out again, so they should be able to at least cover against a depleted New Orleans squad. Valanciunas should receive additional opportunities to score and rebound without Williamson and will hopefully build on his monstrous performance Monday.

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