Basketball bettors are just like little kids the week before Christmas: they can’t wait for December 25. The annual NBA showcase on the holiday has five games on tap, headlined by a NBA Finals rematch between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors.
While these games are a week away, sportsbooks have had them on the board for a while – some since the NBA schedule was announced in the summer. We take a sneak peek into those five matchups, the lookahead lines and the best handicapping tips to bet on these marquee games on Xmas Day.
Philadelphia 76ers at New York Knicks (-1.5)
Not every Xmas gift is a winner, and the same can be said for NBA Christmas Day games. This Eastern Conference battled between Atlantic Division rivals gets everyone warmed up before the Cavs-Dubs game. The Sixers have picked up a bit of a following with their success this season, and therefor a lot of the betting value is gone from this team. The Knicks have been improved and are a stellar bet inside Madison Square Garden, currently posting a 14-5 ATS mark as hosts.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors (-7.5)
Cleveland is out for revenge on Christmas Day and is playing some of the best basketball in the NBA heading into the holiday. The Cavaliers have only one loss in their past 19 games but that hasn’t translated into ATS success, however. They’re only 8-11 against the spread during this streak and 1-7 ATS against Western Conference foes this season. Golden State is nearly as hot with 10 wins in its last 11 games. But unlike the Cavs, the Warriors have turned a profit with a 7-4 ATS count in that stretch. The Dubs lost by one point to Cleveland last Xmas, and will be out to set the tone for another possible finals showdown on Xmas Day.
Washington Wizards at Boston Celtics (-4.5)
Boston remains the elite in the East, even with the Cavaliers pulling neck-and-neck. The big difference between these powers is that the Celtics continue to cash in for NBA bettors, owning a 21-9-2 ATS mark. However, with every win, Boston’s pointspreads climb and this number will go up with public plays on the home side Xmas Day. Washington has been a much better bet on the road, going 10-6 against the spread and is hoping small forward Otto Porter (14.6 ppg) is good to go for the holiday showcase despite a hip injury.
Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder (+4)
The Thunder were favorites for this game at many sportsbooks when lookahead lines popped up. However, OKC has failed to live up to expectations, despite adding Paul George and Carmelo Anthony, and now sit as 4-point pup on December 25. Houston is just rolling through the West, winning 13 straight and 19 of its last 20 outings, boasting a 11-9-1 ATS count during this run. This game will be Oklahoma City’s third game in four days when Xmas rolls around while the Rockets will enjoy two days off before this clash.
Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles Lakers (+4)
Two of the young and exciting NBA teams cap the Christmas slate, with the Lakers pegged as 4-point home underdogs. Los Angeles has had a rough December and will also be finishing a three-in-four situation on December 25. Minnesota hasn’t had any issues filling the scoreboard, with top talents in Andrew Wiggins, Jimmy Butler, and Karl Anthony Towns. However, the T-Wolves are giving up 106.4 points against per night and run into a L.A. squad that loves to push the tempo, ranked No. 1 in the NBA in pace. Minnesota, on the other hand, runs a much more methodical attack but could get sucked into up-and-down basketball in this game. Keep and eye on the total when it hits the board Xmas Eve.