NBA Three at 3: Best Bets for Friday, January 21

On Friday, December 21, there will be 11 NBA games for bettors to choose from and we're looking to narrow it down to the three best bets of the evening for you. One of the games we're looking at is ESPN's featured match-up between the Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks: 

1. Los Angeles Lakers at Orlando Magic - 7:00 p.m. ET

This is a meeting between two teams that are really struggling lately, but the Magic don't have to deal with the fact they're failing to live up to expectations. There's a different kind of pressure that comes with underperforming when you're supposed to be a championship contender, and Los Angeles is dealing with that the hard way. Frank Vogel is officially on the hot seat for the Lakers, despite winning a title with the team just a few years ago. And Russell Westbrook, who Los Angeles thought was going to be the missing piece in its championship hunt, has been playing so poorly that the Lakers actually benched him down the stretch in their last game. Los Angeles desperately needs Anthony Davis to return to the lineup, as its in danger of losing any given game until he's back. That includes this game against a Magic team that could get up for a contest like this. Orlando is full of young talent, with Franz Wagner being one of the most impressive young players in the league. He's a two-way presence that should make a big mark on this game. Also, not only is Los Angeles just 12-21 against the spread as a favorite this season, but the average score of those games has the Lakers scoring 113.8 points per game and the opponent scoring 113.8 points per game. That's a rather telling statistic about where this team is right now, as they're not even outscoring opponents when they're supposed to win games. 

THE PICK: Magic +5.5

2. Chicago Bulls at Milwaukee Bucks - 8:00 p.m. ET

The Chicago Bulls have been one of the best teams in basketball thus far, but they've run into some brutal injury luck recently. First, Chicago lost Zach LaVine to a knee injury and his timetable for a return is unclear. Then, Lonzo Ball tore his meniscus just a couple of days ago, pretty much leaving the Bulls with DeMar DeRozan, Alex Caruso, Coby White and Nikola Vucevic. Those guys are good enough to keep Chicago afloat against most teams, but that's not the case against the defending champions. Outside of Brook Lopez's absence, the Bucks are essentially at full strength coming into this game. Milwaukee just blew the doors off of the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday, earning a 126-114 victory over one of the Western Conference's best teams. Look for the Bucks to make it two blowout wins in a row. Milwaukee is 24-10 against the spread against division opponents over the last three seasons, and the team has won those games by an average margin of 13.4 points per game. 

THE PICK: Bucks -9.5

3. Memphis Grizzlies at Denver Nuggets - 9:00 p.m. ET

The Grizzlies are going to be without some key players in this game, as they're missing Tyus Jones, Desmond Bane, Kyle Anderson and Dillon Brooks. Fortunately for Memphis, Denver is still waiting on the return of Jamal Murray. The Nuggets are also going to be without Michael Porter Jr. for the remainder of the year, so this isn't a team that is at its best right now either. Meanwhile, Memphis is a lot deeper than Denver and can always count on the next man up. That's the difference between these teams right now, and it doesn't hurt that Memphis has Ja Morant and Denver doesn't. Sure, the Nuggets have Nikola Jokic out there and the big man is one of the two-best centers in the game today. But Memphis' frontcourt is rather strong and having a dynamic guard like Morant is something Denver misses without Murray. Look for the young star to really take over in this game, and don't be surprised if role players like De'Anthony Melton and John Konchar play well compared to the players in the Nuggets backcourt. Since Taylor Jenkins became the head coach of Memphis, the Grizzlies are 22-10 against the spread as road underdogs of 6 or fewer points. The average score of those games actually had Memphis winning by 3.2 points per game. The Grizzlies are also 2-0 both straight-up and against the spread against the Nuggets this season, and they're facing a Nuggets team that is just 11-22 against the spread when revenging a road loss versus an opponent since the start of last season. 

THE PICK: Grizzlies +4

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Magic rookie Franz Wagner
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Magic rookie Franz Wagner has made an instant impact for Orlando.
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