Christmas day NBA is upon us and with it comes the unofficial start of the “real” NBA season. This is when things start happening, when teams start making trades and when the games start to really feel like they matter. There is a great slate of NBA games this Christmas that will keep you entertained from morning until late into the night.
Let’s take a look at all of the games and see which ones could potentially offer the best betting opportunities.
Boston Celtics at New York Knicks
The opening game has the potential to be one of the best games of the day with the Atlantic Division lead (and Eastern Conference positioning) in play.
The Knicks point differential (-2.2) leaves something to be desired, but they have found a way to win. They’ve been especially good at home at 11-4 thus far this season with Kristaps Porzingis seeming to play especially well in MSG. The Knicks should be at full strength for this one with Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose, Brandon Jennings and everyone else of importance expected to play.
The Celtics are currently riding a four-game win streak as they are finally healthy and starting to mesh well together. Isaiah Thomas has been getting healthier, Al Horford is recovered from his concussion issues and Jae Crowder is healthy as well. The Celtics have a better point differential (+2) and are a much better defensive team. The question with them, as always, is scoring.
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Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers
The marquee match-up of the day seems destined to disappoint as these games always seem to.
For Cleveland, it’s an issue of health. Kevin Love is out and JR Smith won’t be playing in this one. The Cavaliers are still a very good team, but those two players are big hits and they cost them in three-point shooting in a major way which is exactly what you need to keep up with the Warriors. Expect a huge game from LeBron James here, but it’s hard to say if even the greatest player in the world having a great game will be enough for them.
This game is probably going to be the Golden State show. Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson will be firing away and the motivation issues that sometimes plague them shouldn’t be there tonight.
Pick: Warriors. This is probably the most hyped game of the season thus far, but it looks like a potential blowout. That’s sad, but we know this is just an exhibition for the inevitable Finals rematch.
Chicago Bulls at San Antonio Spurs
An odd match-up that seems more based on the market size and star power of Chicago with Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler then being any sort of intriguing match-up. This game could be ugly from an aesthetic standpoint.
It’s hard to get excited about the Bulls chances here. The Spurs are one of the best teams in the league and Chicago is 3-7 over their past ten games. They had a hot start, but it feels as if the real team is finally showing up.
Minnesota Timberwolves at Oklahoma City Thunder
Are you ready for a Russell Westbrook triple double? For players at Draft Kings, you might want to pick him today because it seems pretty clear that he will be going off in a big way. National TV audience, weak opponent and home for Christmas is the perfect recipe for a big Westbrook game.
The Wolves were expected for big things this season with Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine, but that was probably too much to ask from a team filled with 21-year olds. The future is still very bright for them, but much like the Milwaukee Bucks last season it feels like they are still a year or two away from making that jump to a playoff team.
Pick: Westbrook, all day.
Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers
Another match-up that feels more based in market size than anything else is the Lakers vs the Clippers. The battle of LA might be an intriguing match-up at some point, but this Lakers team is still pretty far away from contention.
That said, this could be a fun game as the Lakers play at an unfathomably fast pace and are a really fun team to watch. Larry Nance Jr. D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle and Brandon Ingram are an exciting young core and they can fill it up on most nights. They should put up a good fight in what will be a home game.
For the Clippers, they’ll be without Blake Griffin which puts more pressure on Chris Paul to get things done. It does open things up a bit for DeAndre Jordan, but there is still some big holes in this lineup. Paul Pierce may get thrown into the fray in this one and expect heavy minutes from Austin Rivers.
Pick: The Clippers are the far better team here, but it looks like they’ll have to play the Lakers game. That means points and lots of them, over is the play.
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