Ultimate NBA Christmas Games 2019 Betting Guide, Tips & Picks
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The NBA moved to a five-game Christmas Day format in 2008, and it has provided one of the best betting days on the sports calendar. There are plenty of trends to consider when making these picks, and the league puts the best of the best on the stage each season, but if you’re simply looking for some advice on each individual game, we’ve got you covered.
From the spread in the afternoon game north of the border to the nightcap in Denver, here are complete betting guide to the five 2019 Christmas Day games. If you see a bet you like, just click on those odds and you'll go right to the sportsbook!
Celtics at Raptors, noon (ESPN)Pick Expired
No two teams in the East lost more during the offseason than the Celtics (Al Horford, Kyrie Irving) and the Raptors (Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green). Boston reloaded with Kemba Walker and the Raptors grew from within with Pascal Siakam and Fref Van Vleet, but there were still doubts about whether they could contend in an East that included the Bucks and 76ers. And yet, heading into Christmas Day, they occupy two of the top four seeds in the East and are a combined 41-16 (a 59-win pace).
But the Celtics are healthy. They’re getting Gordon Hayward back from a foot injury, and Toronto will be without Siakam, Marc Gasol and Norman Powell. That matters against a Brad Stevens-led team that will take advantage of a shallow Toronto bench. Boston is an NBA-best 17-8-2 ATS this season. They’ll add to it with an outright win.
Boston is covering, and they’re also doing so going under. In fact, their 11-16 over mark is second worst in the NBA (behind Denver). But they’ve also been hot of late scoring 107+ in 11 straight while averaging 112.6 points. Toronto is 10-6 hitting the over at home. There will be plenty of points scored here.
Bucks at 76ers, 2:30 p.m. (ABC)Pick Expired
This was billed in the offseason as an Eastern Conference Finals preview, and it very well might be right. The 76ers have been inconsistent – especially late – but still have two All-Stars in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, a rock-solid supporting cast and a solid bench. The Bucks, meanwhile, can’t lose. They’re 27-4, have won 21 of their last 22 games, and are third in offensive rating and first in defensive rating. They’re having a historically good season and Giannis Antetokounmpo is running away with the MVP.
It’s why we’re taking the Bucks in this one. They’ve yet to be underdogs this season, but they did go 9-5 ATS in such scenarios last season and they’re better this time around. The 76ers have lost two of their last three at home, and Embiid is a bit under the weather heading into Christmas day. Everything needs to be right to beat the Bucks, and Philadelphia simply has too many question marks against a rolling Bucks team.
As for the over? The Bucks are No. 1 in defensive efficiency and the 76ers are No. 6. We’re expecting a playoff-like, grind-it-out game in this one between two stellar defenses. We’re hammering the under here.
Rockets at Warriors, 5 p.m. (ABC)Pick Expired
Don’t look now but the Warriors have won two straight at home against the Pelicans and Timberwolves. OK, actually don’t look now, because the red-hot Houston Rockets are coming to town with plenty of revenge on their mind. James Harden & Co. have won five straight road games, including victories over the Magic, Clippers, Suns and Kings in that span. They’re rolling, and they’ve covered in three straight. James Harden is doing MVP things, Russell Westbrook is finally catching up and the supporting cast is playing their role perfectly.
They should have no problem rolling past a Warriors team that is playing better with a healthy Draymond Green and D’Angelo Russell but still doesn’t have enough depth to hang. The older Warriors knocked out Houston twice in the postseason, and Harden hasn’t forgotten. He’ll have his best for this one.
The Warriors are scoring lately thanks to their studs playing well. They’ve scored 106, 112, and 113 in their last three games, and that average should be plenty enough for the game to go over considering Houston is good for 120+.
Clippers at Lakers, 8 p.m. (ESPN)Pick Expired
Is this a preview of the Western Conference Finals? It sure feels like it based on how the first 10 weeks of the season have gone, with the Lakers rushing out to a West-best 24-6 record while the Clippers have shaken off a slow start by winning 15 of 20 since mid-November. They’ve dropped three of five while battling injuries, but you can bet they’ll be full-go against a Lakers team they’ve already beat this season on Opening Night.
It also doesn’t hurt the Clips’ chances that Anthony Davis (ankle) and LeBron James (shoulder) are questionable for the contest. They’re both fully expected to play, but they clearly won’t be at 100 percent. The Clippers have bided time and got healthy, meaning their entire arsenal will hit a Lakers squad that really struggles when both Davis and James aren’t on their games. The Clippers will take another one from their in-arena rival here.
The Lakers defense has slipped of late, and the Clippers are a team that will make you pay. The Lakers are still hanging on to a top-5 offense despite their three-game losing streak, and they should keep up with the Clips’ scoring attack. A game with Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Anthony Davis and LeBron James feels destined to have a ton of points.
Pelicans at Nuggets, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)Pick Expired
It’s the Nuggets – not the Clippers, Rockets or Mavericks – perched in second place behind the Lakers after winning seven straight games heading into Christmas Day. The defense is one of the league’s best, while the offense is doing its best to remain efficient while playing at the slowest pace in the league.
That grind-it-out style is exactly what will have them sitting pretty against a Pelicans team that thrives on playing fast. New Orleans has actually won two of three on the road, but those wins came against Minnesota and Portland. Denver is a different animal, and they rarely put up clunkers at home. It’s why we like Denver to cruise in this one, winning by double digits.
We also expect the Nuggets to lock down a Pelicans offense that is 29th in efficiency this month. Expect Denver to hold this New Orleans team well below 100 points, while Denver’s own pace won’t have them much past that total themselves. The Christmas nightcap should go under.