With all the changes and cancellations that 2020 has brought us, Christmas Day being jam-packed with NBA games is one tradition that will thankfully carry on this year. With whispers being circulated that the NBA season was close to being delayed until January, basketball fans across the country were relieved to find out that the league would return on December 22nd, just in time for Christmas.
If you’re going to be sitting on the couch taking in the games for the duration of the holiday, you might as well put some of that Christmas money on the line to try to make it an extra special holiday.
All odds in this article are from BetOnline as of Thursday, December 24 (9:00 AM ET).
Pelicans @ Heat -5, O/U 226 (12:00 PM ET)
The Christmas Day slate tips off with the New Orleans Pelicans taking on the defending Eastern Conference champions, the Miami Heat. BetOnline has the Heat set as 5-point home favorites.
The Heat were the surprise of the playoffs last season when they won the Eastern Conference before falling short to the Lakers in the NBA Finals. While the key to their success was good ball movement and limiting turnovers, it was Jimmy Butler who shined the brightest throughout their playoff run.
They’ll be facing Zion Williamson and the Pelicans in the early afternoon spot on Christmas Day. Zion, whose minutes were capped throughout an injury-riddled 2019-20 season, says that he’s free to play as much as he can during the 2020-21 season. The Pelicans will need to hold on to the ball better this year if they hope to find success as they were second last in turnovers during the 2019-20 season, averaging 16.4 per game.
An interesting note is that the UNDER is 10-2 in the last twelve Miami Heat Christmas Day games and 3-0 in the Pelicans last three games played on the holiday.
The total for this one moved quickly from an opening line of 229 to 226 where it now sits.
Warriors @ Bucks -9.5, 232 (2:00 PM ET)
The Warriors enter the 2020-21 a shell of their former selves and will be facing arguably the best team in the Eastern Conference on Christmas Day. The Bucks are set as 9.5-point favorites at BetOnline.
With Klay Thompson out of their lineup long term, the Warriors have to rely on Steph Curry and Draymond Green’s talents to carry them throughout the season. Green missed the opening game against the Nets and the Warriors went on to get steamrolled, 125-99. With no news of whether or not they’ll have Green back for Christmas Day, the Warriors success against the Bucks will solely rest on Curry’s shoulders. This may not be good news for Warriors bettors as Curry has averaged just 12.3 points per game when he plays in games on Christmas.
Giannis, on the other hand, has had fantastic outings in his two career games on the holiday, averaging 24 points, 5 assists, and 14 rebounds. The Bucks were 1-1 ATS in those games.
The Warriors are 3-6 ATS in their last nine games played on Christmas Day while the Bucks are 1-1 ATS in their last two, having only played on the holiday twice since the 1993-1994 season.
Nets @ Celtics +2.5, O/U 228 (5:00 PM ET)
Kyrie Irving may be lacking in holiday cheer when he returns to Boston to take on his former team. After their opening night demolition of the Warriors, the Nets are set as slight 2.5-point favorites over the Celtics at BetOnline with the total set at 228.
While many people think that the chemistry between Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant can’t last the entire season given their history of disagreements with teammates, that doesn’t seem to be the case early in the season. Both players looked to be in top form on opening night as they scored over twenty points each with Irving hitting at 62.5 percent from the field. Irving and Durant should both be fresh after playing limited minutes in the blowout on opening night.
The Celtics will have to rely on Jayson Tatum while their star point guard, Kemba Walker, is battling a knee injury. Tatum averaged 25.7 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists per game in the NBA Playoffs last season and he’ll need to perform at that level on Christmas Day to give his Celtics a chance against the star-studded Nets lineup.
The Nets are 1-2 ATS on Christmas Day since the 1993-94 season while the Celtics are 6-4 ATS.
Mavericks @ Lakers -6, O/U 228 (7:00 PM ET)
The preseason betting favorite to be named NBA’s MVP, Luka Doncic, will be taking on LeBron James and the defending NBA Champion Lakers in the prime-time slot on Christmas Day. BetOnline has the Lakers set as 6-point home favorites with the total at 228.
The Lakers will look to even up their record after losing to the Clippers on their banner raising night. Either LeBron James still had a wine hangover or he sprained his finger putting on his new ring because he shot an abysmal 41.2 percent from the field on opening night. Christmas Day would be a fitting time for him to get back into form as he averages 25.2 points, 7 assists, and 8.2 rebounds throughout his career when playing on December 25th.
Dating back to the 1993-94 season, no team has played on the holiday more than the Lakers. They sport a 12-10 ATS record in that span but the OVER in those games is just 6-14-2. The Mavericks have played three games on Christmas in that same time frame, going 2-1 ATS.
This will be Luka Doncic’s first time playing in a Christmas Day game.
Clippers @ Nuggets +1.5, O/U 224 (10:00 PM ET)
The Christmas Day NBA slate is capped off with a rematch of last season’s Western Conference Divisional Playoff round between the Clippers and Nuggets. After getting up to a 3-1 series lead, the Nuggets stormed back to win three-straight games to win the series and advance to the Western Conference Finals. Both teams are locked and loaded for another run at the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
The Clippers upset the Lakers on NBA opening night behind Paul George’s 33-point performance.
Jamal Murray will look to continue the success he had in the NBA playoffs last season where he averaged 26.5 points per game.
Before placing your bet on the Nuggets, it’s important to note that they’re just 1-4 ATS in their last five games on Christmas Day while the Clippers enter the game with a 5-3 ATS record on Christmas dating back to the 1993-94 season.