Few traditions are better for NBA bettors than the full Christmas Day game slate, which serves as the league’s spotlight on a day when most sports are slashing their betting menus. Sure enough, we have five games on Sunday with a quintet of favorites all looking like worthwhile plays.
To be clear, the five games are not worth betting in the same way, with some showing much clearer values than others. That said, here’s an overview of the five games on Christmas Day and how we would consider betting them at BetMGM:
NBA Christmas Day odds, lines, start times (via BetMGM)
- Knicks vs. 76ers (-2.5, 217.5), 12:10 p.m.
- Mavericks (-8.5, 229.5) vs. Lakers, 12:40 p.m.
- Celtics (-4.5, 224.5) at Bucks, 5:10 p.m.
- Warriors vs. Grizzlies (-5.5, 229.5), 8:10 p.m.
- Nuggets (-4.5, 230.5) vs. Suns, 10:40 p.m.
Prediction and analysis of the Knicks against the 76ers
We’ve been writing happily about the Knicks for the past few weeks, which is to be expected when they pull off an eight-game winning streak that, at the time, was the best in the NBA. It’s since been over, and the 76ers are coming to town with their own seven-game run.
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Philadelphia is finally (almost) healthy with Joel Embiid and James Harden throwing back one of the best punches in the entire league. That helped this group post the third-best net mark in the NBA (+12.0) over their seven-game streak with five double-digit wins and two such wins by 20 points.
While New York’s own scoring trio have been hard to stop in recent weeks, the Sixers boast the league’s third-best defensive rating (104.3) during their run with Joel Embiid with a 1.4 average. blocks and 1.3 steals to complete the elite scoring (35.7 PPG) and rebound. (10.3 RPGs). Philly is the best and hottest team and should score the outright victory here.
Knicks picks vs. 76ers: 76ers -2.5 (-110 BetMGM)
Mavericks vs Lakers Prediction and Analysis
This is one of those games that might be worth avoiding, as the Mavericks have been incredibly unreliable against the spread as favorites (8-17-1 ATS). Still, it’s even harder to justify a play on the Lakers with Anthony Davis (foot) ruled out for Sunday’s deal.
That’s bad news for Los Angeles, which has lost 26 of its last 36 games without the star big man dating back to Jan. 9. The Lakers have been outscored by 7.0 points per 100 possessions during that streak thanks in large part to an atrocious defense. rating (121) when Davis is on the bench, which would easily rank last over a full season.
Luka Doncic should have a field day attacking the lane with Davis out, which should be enough to propel the Mavericks to a blowout victory. That said, LeBron James is always tough on Christmas Day, so bet accordingly.
Mavericks pick vs. Lakers: Mavericks -8.5 (-110 BetMGM)
Celtics vs. Bucks prediction and analysis
Just when it looked like the Bucks were on the verge of getting healthy, the injury bug struck again. Khris Middleton (knee) has missed the team’s last four games, including two straight losses, while superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo is also struggling with a lingering knee injury.
Meanwhile, the Celtics are about as healthy as they’ve been all year, although that hasn’t translated into wins lately. Boston enters Sunday’s tilt having lost five of its last seven games following a 17-2 (14-5 ATS) streak dating back to early November when it looked like the undisputed best team in the NBA.
Recent results would favor Milwaukee here, health permitting, but I would expect the C’s to show up Sunday in a rematch of last year’s Conference Finals. We’ve seen how tough this group can be to stop, especially when MVP favorite Jayson Tatum (30.5 PPG) is rolling like he has been this season.
Celtics pick vs. Bucks: Celtics -4.5 (-110 BetMGM)
Warriors vs Grizzlies Prediction and Analysis
Normally, the Warriors would be an auto fade on the road and an easy bet at home, even as favorites. Not so with Stephen Curry (out) sidelined with a serious shoulder injury.
His absence has been a blow to the defending champions, who have lost seven of their last nine games and three of four without Curry. Golden State also had to deal with several missed games from Klay Thompson (knee) and Andrew Wiggins (groin) — the latter also ruled out for Sunday — and could do without Draymond Green (foot) in this one.
Meanwhile, Grizzlies star Desmond Bane (toe) is set to make his long-awaited return on Sunday after missing his team’s last 18 games. Memphis was 9-4 when he went down and has gone to 11-7 since then, so I would expect his return to provide a much-needed jolt against the struggling, shorthanded Warriors.
Choice between Warriors and Grizzlies: Grizzlies -5.5 (-110 BetMGM)
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Nuggets vs Suns Prediction and Analysis
Surprise, surprise: We’re backing the five favorites here with the Nuggets earning the nod in the Christmas Day Final. I’m just not convinced by the Suns with the uncertain health of star Devin Booker (groin), who has surprisingly missed each of his team’s last three games.
He hasn’t played since dropping 58 points to the Pelicans on Dec. 17, shortly after missing two games with an unrelated hamstring injury. Phoenix has lost four of those five games without its star, and while it looks likely to start on Sunday, that was also the case heading into each of the last three games.
Even if he does dress up, I’m not 100% sure he’ll be 100%, which will put the Suns at a disadvantage against a Nuggets team on a 6-1 run behind double MVP Nikola Jokic’s absurd play from late. I’d bet on him showing up in a top spot Sunday night against the defending champions West.
Nuggets pick vs. Suns: Nuggets -4.5 (-110 BetMGM)