The NBA takes center stage on Christmas Day with five marquee games featuring the game’s biggest stars. We have your best picks for Christmas. The Knicks haven’t stopped the Bucks yet this season, can they do it on Christmas? The Sixers are taking their show down to South Beach, while we get another chapter in the NBA’s biggest rivalry: Celtics-Lakers.
NBA Expert Picks and Best Bets | December 25
Milwaukee Bucks at New York Knicks Best Bet
Weird scheduling by the NBA here. The Bucks played the Knicks Saturday night and thumped them 130-111 with Giannis Antekokounmpo scoring 28 and Bobby Portis scoring 23.The Bucks also killed the Knicks in the quarterfinals of the In-Season Tournament.
They’ve now won seven games in a row.
New York is not bad. They’re 16-12 overall and 14-12-2 against the spread. Jalen Brunson has played real well. He had 36 points in the loss Saturday, but if you’re doing tiers of teams in the NBA, the Bucks are a tier above the Knicks. Lock in this spread while you can, because it’s probably only going to go up.
The spread was 2.5-points Saturday and the Bucks blew that out of the water. Let's believe what we can see on Christmas.
Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat Best Bet
The Heat opened as favorites when the original line was posted on this back in October at Michigan sportsbooks. Since then it has swung to the Sixers. We feel confident just riding the moneyline.
No one is playing better basketball than the Sixers right now. They’re 20-8 overall and 20-8 against the spread. The Heat are 13-16 against the spread. Philly has won eight of their last nine. Joel Embiid is scoring 35 a game and five different Sixers are now averaging in double figures.
The Heat are defending Eastern Conference champs and are 17-12 after beating Atlanta Saturday night without Jimmy Butler. He’s day-to-day with a calf injury. I bet he plays in this one, which is really the best game of the five, but I like the Sixers on the road to dominate down the stretch. When Embiid is in a good head space, he’s impossible to stop.
Boston Celtics at LA Lakers Best Bet
The Lakers shuffled their starting lineup Saturday night and recorded a surprising win over the red-hot Thunder. They put in Jarred Vanderbilt, sort of moved LeBron to the point and rolled to a 129-120 win. Vanderbilt gives them a better defensive presence, but is not a big offensive contributor.
But this is another ‘tier’ kind of game. The Celtics are 22-6, unbeaten at home and have won seven of last eight. They’ve also have won seven games in a row against teams with winning records. When Boston shoots well, they crush teams. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are the best 1-2 tandem in the NBA. They play off each other so well.
The Lakers are 16-14 and sitting ninth in the West. We know what they can do when they feel like it. LeBron James is still good for 25 a night, Anthony Davis has been good lately, but the Celtics are just a better team top to bottom.
Born and raised in Louisiana, Darren Cooper has a fond appreciation for bayous, Mardi Gras beads and the sports betting industry. Darren has worked for multiple print and online publications since 1998, primarily as a sports columnist in the Northeast. He’s covered a Super Bowl (it was a blowout), the World Series (same) and the NBA Draft (man, those guys are tall). For the last few years he’s dug deep into the sports gambling industry as it exploded across America, learning how the legal sausage is made and how while all the sportsbooks look the same, they all have different identities and styles. He’s learned to always bet within his means -- and take the under. When not in front of his computer creating, Darren spends time with his three boys. He runs, reads and is always looking for the next big thing to write about.