Ultimate NBA Christmas Games 2021 Betting Guide, Tips & Picks
It’s hard to believe the NBA season is just a few months away. But the NBA calendar is already being unveiled, with the league on Tuesday announcing both Opening Night games and the five-game Christmas Day lineup.
We’re previewing that slate of games on Dec. 25, which continues to be one of the best NBA betting days of the year in the United States. This year, it'll be live in Canada too, as single-game sports betting launches in the country on Aug. 27. That's great news for Canada sports betting and Raptors fans who plan to wager at Ontario sports betting sites.
|Christmas Day Schedule||Opening Lines|
|Knicks vs. Hawks||NY -1.5|
|Bucks vs. Celtics||MIL -7|
|Suns vs. Warriors||PHO -4.5|
|Lakers vs. Nets||LAL -1.5|
|Jazz vs. Mavericks||UTA -5.5|
New York Knicks vs. Atlanta Hawks
In what was perhaps the most memorable non-Giannis moment of the 2021 NBA postseason, Trae Young will get a chance to silence Madison Square Garden once again, this time on Christmas Day.
The Hawks advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals last season – knocking off these Knicks in five games along the way – and should only be better with their top nine playoff scorers returning. The Knicks added Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier to an already solid roster and brought back Derrick Rose – plus a healthy Mitchell Robinson.
It’s the smallest spread of any Christmas Day game at the sportsbooks and betting sites, and for good reason. The Knicks were an NBA-best 46-30-1 against the spread last season (60.5%), while the Hawks were seventh at 49-40-1 (55.1%). The Knicks added more this offseason, but the Hawks got better. Considering the NBA spreads on offer here in favor of Atlanta, we’ll ride with the Hawks getting the points here.
THE PICK: Hawks +1.5 at DraftKings
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Bucks vs. Celtics
The defending champions will get their second straight Christmas Day game at home – and that’s bad news for the Celtics. Milwaukee trounced Steph Curry and the Warriors a season ago, 138-99, on their eventual way to their first title since 1971.
The Bucks bring back their three-headed monster of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday, along with Brook Lopez, Bobby Portis, and Donte DiVincenzo. Milwaukee looks primed to contend for a repeat. The Celtics lost head coach Brad Stevens, Kemba Walker, and Evan Fournier in the offseason but still have All-Stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.
The largest spread of any Christmas Day game could get ugly. The Bucks are an NBA-best 72-48-2 (60.0%) ATS as a home favorite since 2018. The Celtics will need more than two months to find their footing in their new era under head coach Ime Udoka. The Bucks win this one big.
THE PICK: Bucks -7 at FanDuel
Suns vs. Warriors
The defending Western Conference champions get a home Christmas Day game for the first time since 2009. Chris Paul is back for another title chase alongside Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton, and the rest of the young Suns core.
Of Phoenix’s six leading postseason scorers last season, only Paul (36) and Jae Crowder (31) were older than 24 years old. That means this team is only getting better in 2022.
On Christmas, they’ll face one of the most experienced teams in the league. Klay Thompson should be almost all the way back by Christmas Day, and he’ll be flanked by Steph Curry and Draymond Green. Golden State also added two exciting rookies in Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody who should compete for minutes right away.
This feels like a game that could come down to the final few possessions, with Curry/Thompson and Paul/Booker trading baskets. With that in mind, we’ll play it safe and take the Warriors and the points, but Suns fans will get the chance to back their team for this one, with Arizona sports betting set to go live in the state on Sept. 9. Still, we can't look past the Warriors.
THE PICK: Warriors +4.5 at FanDuel
Lakers vs. Nets
A look at the NBA futures odds shows this is a matchup between the two teams with the top title odds (Nets +210; Lakers +380), squaring off in the marquee game of the day. The Lakers added Russell Westbrook and a host of elite shooters during the offseason, and it’s a safe bet that LeBron James and Anthony Davis will get up for one of the most hyped games of the regular season.
But standing in their way will be a Nets team that (at least for now) has a healthy Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving. It’s the best three-headed monster in the NBA and they’ll once again post historic offensive numbers. This total could reach the 250s if both teams really get going.
How much time will the 10 new Lakers need to gel with their teammates? We think it’ll take longer than two months, with the Nets shooting their way past a Lakers team that’s playing for the postseason anyway.
THE PICK: Nets +1.5 at FanDuel
Jazz vs. Mavericks
The Jazz had the NBA’s best regular season record before falling flat in a playoff series loss to the Clippers. They’ll bring back their core – including the recently signed Mike Conley – and get a home game on Christmas one season after going an NBA-best 27-15 (64.3%) ATS at home.
The Mavericks added some shooting around Luka Doncic in the form of Reggie Bullock (while also bringing back Tim Hardaway Jr.) and we are expecting a bounce-back season from Kristaps Porzingis. Still, any bet on the Mavericks is a bet on Doncic going off in otherworldly fashion.
And we think it happens. The Slovenian All-Pro has a flair for the dramatic. He scored 27 points in his Christmas debut last season against the Lakers in a blowout loss. He’ll score more than that this time around, and he’ll do so in a winning effort. We’ll take the points on our sports betting app to be safe, but we like the Mavs to win outright here.
THE PICK: Mavericks +5.5 at FanDuel