Mark Strotman for Bookies.com

By Mark Strotman | | 8 mins

NBA Christmas Games Odds, Free Picks & Betting Predictions

NBA Christmas Games Odds, Free Picks & Betting Predictions
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Though the COVID-19 pandemic continues to ravage NBA rosters, with more than 100 players in health and safety protocols, there are no plans for the league to pause the season as it did in 2020. That means we’ll still have our traditional five NBA Christmas games, though NBA betting enthusiasts should be advised that the timing of those games may change based on the availability of players. But as of now, we’re full go.

Plenty has changed since these games were announced back in August, including their NBA odds, so we’re taking another spin through all five matchups and giving our NBA picks for Christmas Day.


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NBA Christmas Games Schedule & Odds


Game 1: New York Knicks vs. Atlanta Hawks, noon

The pick: Hawks ATS

Trae Young’s return to Madison Square Garden for the first time since his Hawks knocked off the Knicks in last year’s playoffs will be a fun one. What we didn’t expect is that both these teams would be on the outside looking in of the playoff picture after they were the Nos. 4 and 5 seeds, respectively.

Still, we expect these two teams to be playing in the spring when it matters, and the good news is New York betting sites will be taking online wagers by then, including at BetMGM New York. They’re simply too talented on offense (Atlanta) and defense (New York) to go through these struggles the entire season.


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Young is averaging a career-high 27.3 points in his fourth NBA season, and he’s getting help from John Collins and Clint Capela to help Atlanta rank second in offensive efficiency. The defense is another story – 24th in efficiency – but they may simply score too many points for the Knicks to keep up. That’s because New York is an uninspiring 19th in offensive efficiency.

And where last year’s NBA-best defense could cover some of those warts, the defense is in the bottom third of the league this season. They’ve been awful in December and own one of the worst home records in the league. We’re on this at BetMGM. If you are a new bettor, the BetMGM bonus code unlocks some great offers, including for Christmas.

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Game 2: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics, 2:30 p.m.

The pick: Bucks ATS

Perhaps no team in the NBA has lost more games from its frontline stars than the Bucks, who have been without Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday at separate times for a large portion of the season. When those three are healthy, they’re still the defending champs and play like it. When one or more are out, it’s been ugly.

It’s likely that Giannis will be able to suit up on Christmas, and that’s good news for a Bucks team that currently sits within reaching distance of the top of the East standings. Despite their injury woes, Milwaukee still ranks in the top-10 of both offensive and defensive efficiency. Once they’re at full strength, they’ll be as tough an out as there is in the East.

It’s tough for sportsbooks to get a read on the Celtics. The combination of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown is among the best in basketball, yet they’re struggling to even get to .500 and are on the outside looking in of the playoff race. Still, they have wins over the Sixers, Heat, Bucks (twice) and Lakers this season. They can still hang with the best in the league on any given night, but we are taking the Bucks at DraftKings.

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CHECK OUT: NBA Christmas Games Top Parlay


Game 3: Suns vs. Warriors, 5 p.m.

The pick: Warriors ATS

We thought this matchup might be the best one on Christmas Day when the lineup was announced in the summer, and it’s exactly what we got. There should be plenty of action at betting sites. There’s no question that these are the two best teams in basketball and as it stands, they’re on a collision course to meet in the Western Conference Finals.

For now, we’ll stick with them meeting in Phoenix in a battle of the two teams atop the Western Conference standings. Stephen Curry is leading just about any MVP race and odds list you can find, and for good reason. He’s leading a talented core that’s getting it done on both ends of the floor; Golden State is fourth in offense and first in defense heading into Christmas. Though Klay Thompson won’t play in this one, he’s heading in the right direction for a January return that will only make this team more powerful on both ends.

But the Suns are right there with Golden State. They’ve already got an 18-game win streak to their name, though that streak was broken by the Warriors back in early December. Still, Phoenix is also getting it done on both ends of the floor, ranking seventh in offensive efficiency and third on defense. Chris Paul won’t age, Devin Booker is only getting better and Deandre Ayton is turning in a career year.

This will be the most hotly contested Christmas Day game as a pair of Hall of Fame point guards square off. Arizona sports betting fans can’t wait for this game, and neither can we. We’re grabbing them at Caesars Sportsbook.

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Game 4: Los Angeles Lakers vs. Brooklyn Nets, 8 p.m.

The pick: Lakers ATS

We’re not going to get a complete look at what could be an NBA Finals preview because these rosters have been rocked by injury and health and safety protocols. The biggest injury is Anthony Davis, who is out four weeks with a knee injury. That puts the onus on LeBron James and Russell Westbrook to carry a Lakers squad that has underachieved all season – but is always one good performance away from competing with any team in the league.

Christmas isn’t Christmas without LeBron James, who has averaged 25.5 points, 7.1 rebounds and 7.1 assists on 12/25 during the course of his career.

It’s anyone’s guess as to who will be playing for the Nets on Christmas, which creates some uncertainty on betting apps. We know Kyrie Irving isn’t ready to ramp up basketball activities quite yet, and he’s in H&S protocols along with seven others (including James Harden).

Bettors will need to check in on the status of Harden, Kevin Durant (ankle) and others before betting on either side of this game. It’s going to be a war of attrition, but with any luck we’ll get two fully healthy squads battling it out in June for the Larry O’Brien trophy. For now, we’re on the Lakers at FanDuel.

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Game 5: Dallas Mavericks vs. Utah Jazz, 10:30 p.m.

The pick: Mavs ATS

Two of the best international players in the game square off when Luka Doncic’s Mavs square off against Rudy Gobert’s Jazz. Both squads had high aspirations to begin the season, but it’s been Utah that’s headed toward the top of the West while Dallas’ recent injury woes to Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis have pushed them out of the playoff picture for now.

Dallas’ hopes of making this competitive will hinge on Doncic’s status. Dallas is 2-6 SU without him and 12-9 SU with him. Though they’ve gotten good production out of guys like Jalen Brunson and Maxi Kleber, while Kristaps Porzingis is having a career year, the Mavs go as Doncic goes.

The Jazz, meanwhile, have shaken off a pedestrian 8-5 start to tout one of the best records in the West. They won 12 of 14 in between November and December – including eight straight – and have done their damage on the offensive end where they tout the NBA’s most efficient group. That’s good news for a team that is always going to get it done defensively, and they’re No. 6 in that category in 2021. We’ve got the Mavs at TwinSpires.

About the Author

Mark Strotman for Bookies.com
Mark Strotman
Mark is a veteran sports journalist who has covered the Bulls and the NBA since 2012. His work has appeared on ESPN.com, FoxSports.com, The Chicago Tribune and Yahoo Sports.