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Once upon a time, the Lakers called Minneapolis their home, and they were damn good. From 1949 through 1959, they won six titles with George Mikan leading the team. That was before they moved to Los Angeles and adopted purple and gold as their primary colors.

Minnesota was an NBA ghost town until the Timberwolves came in as an expansion team in 1989, and they have had only brief stretches of success, most when Kevin Garnett was the team anchor and they made it to the conference finals in 2004.

The Wolves have 10 other playoff appearances, bowing out in the first round each time.  This season they are the No. 1 team in the West as we enter the final 11 days of December. Tonight they get a national TV appearance on NBA-TV against LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Los Angeles Lakers, who lost by 16 last night in Chicago while the T-Wolves were getting toasted by Joel Embiid.

Both teams are on the second night of back-to-backs, something that has become increasingly uncommon in the NBA. The Lakers are 5.5-point underdogs, matching the largest spread of the season that favored their opponent.

This is a test game for the Wolves even though it is happening on the shortest daylight day of the year, and if we see these teams eventually compete for something meaningful, that will happen in springtime when the postseason comes around.

Best NBA Parlays Today – December 21, 2023: 4-Leg Parlay Picks (+1204)

Leg-1 Parlay Pick: Lakers + 5.5 at Minnesota (-105)

Los Angeles has lost three in a row and has lost a lot of the moxie that was on display when they won the NBA Cup in Las Vegas. The three-game slide matches their longest of the season, which happened Nov. 4-8 and ended with a quality victory vs. the Phoenix Suns. This will be the first of four meetings between the teams this season, and it will be the most anticipated game of the season in Minneapolis. The Wolves are certainly legit, but winning by 6 or more in a game of this magnitude may be asking a bit much. James has made a career out of bringing his teams out of slumps and having them peak when they are being counted out, and this seems like one of those instances. The thinking here is that the lopsided nature of their loss in Chicago motivates them to go into Minneapolis tonight and to Oklahoma City on Saturday and knock off the No. 1 Wolves and the No. 2 Thunder prior to their Christmas showdown with the Celtics. The moneyline is enticing, but the spread line is safer.

The Pick: Los Angeles Lakers + 5.5 at Minnesota Timberwolves (-105).

Leg-2 Parlay Pick: Clippers + 4.5 at Thunder (-105).

The Clippers have won nine in a row, the latest coming in a 9-point victory at Dallas last night as Kawhi Leonard was outstanding again with 30 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists. He is the alpha dog and the team has assimilated James Harden at the point after some early growing pains. They are going up tonight against Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who was once part of their franchise, and there is going to come a moment when Leonard tries to dunk on Chet Holmgren. You are hereby invited to side bet one beer with your best bud on whether that dunk attempt is blocked or not. As for the game, this is a very big underdog number for a team with nine straight wins, matching their biggest underdog line of the season, which came against Denver. This is the first game of the season between the teams, and we are taking the veteran-laden Clippers with that comfortable 4.5-point cushion, even though the moneyline here is tantalizing, too.

The Pick: Los Angeles Clippers + 4.5 at Oklahoma City Thunder (-105).

Leg-3 Parlay Pick: Trail Blazers – 3.5 vs Wizards

Washington is a horrible defensive team and has overtaken the Indiana Pacers as the team allowing the most points per game at 126.8. The Trail Blazers are a horrible offensive team, averaging 107.7 points per game, the fewest of any team other than Memphis. Still, the Blazers are coming off a quality win over the Phoenix Suns in which they came back from a 16-point deficit after the first quarter, so at least we know they have a pulse. They also have two veterans, Jerami Grant and Malcolm Brogdon, who are trying to raise their stock so that they can be traded to contenders before the February deadline. That right there is motivation, and we can’t help but wonder whether the Wizards are going to be more motivated for their Friday night game at Golden State when they make their one and only national television appearance of the season on ESPN.

The Pick: Portland Trail Blazers – 3.5 vs. Washington Wizards (-115).

Leg-4 Parlay Pick: Pacers-Grizzlies over 247.5 (-110)

The Pacers went over again last night, beating the number by 11.5 points as they clobbered the Hornets by 31. Tonight they go up against a Memphis team that has gone over in only 10 of 26 games, the second-worst rate in the league behind Denver. But those unders happened while Ja Morant was suspended, and the Grizzlies with Morant are an entirely different team. The fact that he is going up against All-Star Tyrese Haliburton in what should be an epic mano-a-mano battle makes us believe that this will be a track meet the same way most Pacers games have been track meets (they lead the NBA with a 20-6-1 record on over/unders). It is interesting that Memphis is favored by 2.5 against a much better team, but that again is the Morant factor being in play. The over seems safer than taking the Pacers and the points.

The Pick: Memphis Grizzlies and Indiana Pacers over 247.5 points (-110).

Put those four picks together and you get a parlay line of +1204, meaning a $10 wager would return $130.45. Y’all can buy a nice gingerbread house for $130.45. Good luck!

Odds are subject to change*

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