NBA Christmas Day Games betting preview

NBA Christmas Day Games betting preview

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The marquee day of the NBA’s regular season each year is Christmas Day because those are usually the only live professional sports events going in the United States on the holiday (there is an NFL game Friday). Thus, the games draw huge television ratings and give the NBA the national spotlight; to make their TV partners happy, the NBA rushed the start of the 2020-21 regular season so that Christmas games would happen.

Only the league’s marquee teams and biggest stars play on the holiday, which means of course LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers will play Friday as the defending NBA champions host early MVP betting favorite Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks at 8 p.m. ET.

The Mavs will be without their second-best player, Kristaps Porzingis, as he recovers from offseason surgery. The Lakers lost their opener at home to the Clippers on Tuesday and LeBron tweaked his ankle, but he says he will be fine for this one. Dallas lost in Phoenix. Los Angeles is a 6-point favorite and 5-1 ATS in the past six meetings.

The first game at noon ET is Zion Williamson making his Christmas debut with the New Orleans Pelicans as they visit the defending Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat. Zion is already one of the five biggest stars in the NBA even though he was limited to 24 games in an otherwise stellar rookie season. The Heat are basically back intact after their surprising run to the NBA Finals in the Orlando bubble. Miami is a 5-point favorite and 16-6 ATS in its past 22 overall.

At 2:30 p.m. ET, Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors visit Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks. Both guys have won back-to-back MVP Awards: Curry in 2015 and 2016 and the Greek Freak the past two seasons. The Bucks are -9.5 but have covered just once in their past seven overall.

Giannis last week signed a supermax extension that will assure he will remain in Milwaukee for the foreseeable future. His $228 million extension is the largest contract in NBA history and takes another big name off the free-agent market next summer. Last season, the Freak became the third player to win MVP and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season, joining Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Jordan.

At 5 p.m. ET, the Brooklyn Nets visit the Boston Celtics, with the storyline being Kyrie Irving’s return to Boston. Irving is a great player and had a spectacular opener Tuesday in a blowout of the Warriors (as did Kevin Durant in his Brooklyn debut), but he tends to wear out his welcome quickly and he didn’t leave Boston on good terms after the 2018-19 season. Irving missed both visits to Beantown last year due to injury. The Nets are -2.5 and 5-2 ATS in the past seven meetings.

The holiday concludes with a 10:30 p.m. ET tip as the Los Angeles Clippers visit the Denver Nuggets. The Clips had a commanding 3-1 series lead in the 2020 Western Conference semifinals over Denver in the Orlando bubble but blew leads in each of the final three to lose. Los Angeles is a 1.5-point favorite but 1-5 ATS in the past six meetings.
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