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Rule of thumb in sports gambling: Don’t get too carried away with your parlays.

Rule of thumb on New Year’s Eve: This is the one night per year you are permitted to get carried away.

So, we have those two competing rules of thumb as we close out 2021, the worst year in human history since Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D. and destroyed Pompeii. Each and every one of us needs to begin 2022 with a vacation. And since we need those getaways funded, let’s go find those funds today, shall we?

There is a full slate of NBA action throughout the day Friday, but we are going to focus on what is happening Friday night while most of the sports world has their attention on the NCAA college football semifinals.

We have all learned over the past two weeks that the NBA is being severely impacted by COVID-19 positive tests, but what we try to do here is use the historical data and recent trends to put together a conservative parlay card that will go 7-for-7. Having gone 6-for-7 before, we recommend a round robin hedge if you are so inclined.

So here we go: Tonight’s games, one at a time, with our pick and explanation.

Miami (-4) at Houston

The Rockets are enduring a whole slew of trade rumors involving Eric Gordon and Christian Wood, their two best players. Houston also is trying to move John Wall, but his massive salary is making that difficult.

The Heat enter this game with almost their entire roster banged up or in COVID protocols. Mario Chalmers and Nik Stauskas have been brought in on 10-day contracts, and since it is not 2015 anymore, we do not love those moves.

The Rockets stink, but they can cover against a mishmash of guys wearing Heat uniforms who will be long forgotten in two weeks.

Pick: Houston (+4) -110

Atlanta (+1) at Cleveland

The Rajon Rondo-to-Cleveland deal has not yet happened, and even if it goes down during the day he will almost certainly not be available tonight. So, who exactly defends Trae Young and feeds alley-oops to Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen? The default guy is Kevin Pangos, who started the Cavs’ last game and put up a goose egg.

The Hawks are missing a ton of regulars due to COVID protocols and are coming off a pair of losses to the Bulls that went over. The O/U line on this one is 215.5. The Cavs have gone under in six of eight, but the Hawks have gone over in two straight.

Pick: Trae Young over 2.5 3-pointers made -170

L.A. Clippers (+7) at Toronto

The Clips are coming off a nine-point road victory at Boston that went under by a mere 37 points. They have eclipsed 100 points only once in their past four games, while Toronto has had three of its last six games postponed and has not scored much in the other three.

With the O/U at 211.5, we say take the under – which we remind you is the only wager in sports gambling that you are already winning when the game begins.

Pick: Under 211.5 points -105

San Antonio (+6) at Memphis

The Grizzlies are coming off an emotional high following their victory over the Lakers two nights ago, and although the class of competition is theoretically lesser with the Spurs in town, the fact of the matter is that San Antonio and Los Angeles are only 1.5 games apart in the standings.

Memphis is sneaky good when Ja Morant is healthy and playing, and you cheated yourself if you skipped his 41-point outburst against the Lake Show.

Memphis has won eight of 11 and should get a W, but covering is dicey.

Pick: Memphis money line -250

New York (-5) at Oklahoma City

The ‘Bockers will be making the third stop on a four-game road trip that will conclude in Toronto, and they have gone waaaay under in the first two: 35.5 under at Detroit on Wednesday, and 27.5 under at Minnesota.

The Thunder are not exactly playing gangbusters quality basketball, so we expect another slog in which Tom Thibodeau cannot make up his mind on anything except for the fact that he loves Alec Burks, Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson.

Pick: Under 205.5 points -110

Minnesota (+11) at Utah

Karl-Anthony Towns is expected to remain out for this one due to COVID protocols, but a few of the other recently missing Wolves will return. Still, this shapes up as a night for the folks in Utah to head to the game, leave early and happy and then return home to not drink alcohol or coffee as they ring in the New Year in their special Utahan way.

The Jazz are expected to rest Mike Conley, which opens the door for Jordan Clarkson to have a big game. Even with Joe Ingles out and Donovan Mitchell questionable, this should be an easy W. But a cover? Unsure. They have gone over twice this season vs. Minny.

Pick: Over 221.5 points -110

Portland (+5.5) at L.A. Lakers

Here at Betway, we are working on something special with LeBron James. If it pans out, we’ll tell you all about it Monday. In the meantime, is the smart thing to do here to pile on the Blazers, who are the league’s biggest underachievers this season.

The have lost 13 of 16 but defeated the Lakers by 15 in their lone matchup earlier this season. This one could be tighter than many expect, so our play is to play the hot guy: LeBron has scored 31 or more in six straight, so play him while he is hot.

Pick: LeBron James over 46.5 combined points, rebounds and assists -105