POV: You just woke up on Christmas and opened the Action Network app to see 11 bets for Sunday’s five-game NBA slate. A Merry Christmas indeed.
If you’re a regular you know we give readers our best bets for every single day of the NBA season. For Christmas, we’re upping the ante and giving you an article with nothing but props — a Prop-Mas, if you will.
Check out our experts’ 11 best bets for Christmas below.
NBA Odds & Picks
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Philadelphia 76ers vs. New York Knicks
|Pick||Over 29.5 PTS + REB + AST|
Chris Baker: Jalen Brunson has had a few off games but I like him to bounce back in this spot against the 76ers. Julius Randle and RJ Barrett have had the hot hand recently but they will draw tougher defensive assignments here as they will be saying a combination of Tobias Harris, PJ Tucker, and Matisse Thybulle.
Jalen Brunson will likely be defended by De’anthony Melton who is very solid, but behind Melton the 76ers are very lacking in terms of perimeter guard defenders. Brunson should also be asked to do more just by nature of the fact that a point of emphasis for the Knicks will be not turning the ball over.
The Knicks had 21 turnovers in their first game vs the 76ers team and I’m sure taking care of the ball will be a point of emphasis against this 76ers defense that ranks 3rd best in forcing turnovers. Jalen Brunson is in the 92nd percentile of turnover rate for point guards so handing the ball to him will be the Knicks best strategy for limiting turnovers.
Brunson had 23 points, 7 boards, and 6 assists in just 36 minutes in the first matchup between these two teams. The Knicks have shortened the rotation the past few games so I expect Brunson to play closer to 39-39 minutes this time around. Factoring in the minutes increase with the more favorable matchups this time around and I think he can clear this number up to 30.5
|Pick||Over 3.5 Turnovers|
Malik Smith: They say Christmas is all about giving and James Harden has been in the giving mood all month.
Since he returned to the Sixers’ lineup in early December, he’s been dishing like crazy, averaging 12.0 assists over the past eight games. He’s also giving the ball away a ton, too. Harden is averaging 4.8 assists over that same span, the most in the NBA, and has only gone under this number once in those eight games. It’s awesome when he gets 21 dimes like he did on Friday, but it’s clear that passing will come with some turnovers on the side.
On Christmas Day, he’ll likely be guarded on most of his possessions by Knicks 3-and-D wing Quentin Grimes, who does a great job of creating ball pressure at the point of attack. If Harden tries to put Grimes in the pick-and-roll, the Knicks guard also gets over screens well and can force Harden into bad passes.
Overall, Harden has turned the ball over 38 times since he returned and 26 of those have been steals, so I’ll also be looking at the Steals + Blocks line for Grimes (Over 1.5, +108). Since being inserted into the Knicks’ starting lineup, Grimes has notched at least two stocks in seven of his 16 games.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Dallas Mavericks
|Pick||Over 29.5 Points|
Alex Hinton: As one of the long-standing faces of the league, LeBron James has been a fixture on Christmas. James has played on Christmas Day 16 times in his career, averaging 26.4 points in those games. This season, James is averaging 27.4 points per game and is 11th in the league in scoring.
Over his last 10 games, James has scored 30 points six times and finished with 28 and 29 in two other games. However, he has really come on in the last six games with six consecutive 30-point game, averaging 32.6 points per game in that span. The last three games have come without Anthony Davis, who remains out indefinitely.
Without Davis, the burden falls more on James to score, and his volume goes up. He has taken over 20 shots in each of his last six games and in nine of 10 games this month. He has remained efficient, however, shooting 52.6% from the field on 23 attempts per game in December.
Dallas ranks 23rd in field goal percentage and is 29th defending small forwards according to props.cash. Dallas will be without forward Dorian Finney-Smith, the team’s best perimeter defender, once again, which will make it tough to slow down James.
The stage is for James to have another big performance on Christmas.
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics
|Pick||Over 26.5 PTS + Under 3.5 AST Parlay|
Matt Moore: The Bucks primarily play drop coverage in pick-and-roll, containing ball-handlers to prevent having to over-help and giving up 3-Pointers. They strayed from this last season, committing too much to help inside and leaving open shooters constantly.
They’ve peeled back on that, staying home and as a result, they allow the fourth most assists per 100 possessions to guards this season. But a consequence of that drop is space for players to shoot off the dribble.
|Pick||Under 30.5 PTS + REB + AST|
For this matchup, I’m looking to fade Jrue Holiday. The Bucks point guard is averaging 31.4 PRA this season, but there are a few factors pointing to him underperforming against the Celtics.
Firstly, Holiday has struggled with his shot efficiency on the road. The UCLA product is only shooting 41% from the field away from Milwaukee, and an ugly 30% from long-range. With his assists down a tad as well, his 29.9 PRA average in road contests has kept him under this line in six of 11 games.
Holiday has also labored to produce against good defenses this season. Against teams rating in the top 10 in opponent effective field goal percentage, Holiday has failed to clear this line in seven of eight games. The Celtics rank eighth, and were able to hold Holiday to 43% shooting in the regular season last year (and 36% in the playoffs).
Jrue will likely find himself matched up against the likes of Marcus Smart and Derrick White. The Celtics backcourt duo have held opposing point guards to the fifth fewest PRA over their last 15 games.
Offensively for the Bucks, the ball will be in the hands of Giannis Antetokounmpo plenty. I don’t see too much room for Holiday to garner the volume he’d need to eclipse this line, in what should be a slower paced game than the Bucks norm.
While it seems backwards to fade Holiday on Christmas, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing. I would play this down to under 29.5.
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Golden State
|Pick||Over 9.5 Points|
Andrew O’Connor-Watts: When we think of Brandon Clarke of the Memphis Grizzlies, we think of dominant scoring right? No? Well, I still like his points over for this year’s Prop-mas.
Minutes played will be the key to cashing this over, and with Desmond Bane’s return against the Suns on Friday, there won’t be as many minutes to go around for some of the other Grizzlies players moving forward. But someone like Clarke shouldn’t see any significant minutes drop until Bane is back to his full workload, which likely won’t be for a few more games.
Clarke averages 21.3 minutes and 10.4 points per game when he shares the court with Bane for his career, and this season he’s averaging 18.7 minutes per game and 11.3 points when Bane also plays. In those shared games where Clarke plays 18 or more minutes, he’s gone over this number in six out of the eight contests.
Even more encouraging are Clarke’s numbers against the Warriors. He averages 22 minutes and 11.9 points per game all-time versus the Warriors and has gone over 9.5 points in seven out of nine games.
In those matchups against Golden State, Clarke has scored 10+ in every game in which he’s played more than 20 minutes, which he did in Bane’s return on Friday, scoring 24 points, nine of which came in the final frame when the game was a blowout.
And there’s a good chance this game is a blowout too with a surging Memphis team out for revenge after last year’s early playoff exit at the hands of Golden State, who will be without Curry.
The cherry on top of this Prop-Mas pie, is that Clarke has scored 10 or more points in every single game in December this season. I think he’s being undervalued because of Bane’s return, but rest easy and unwrap your presents knowing Clarke will make your Christmas a little merrier.
|Pick||Over 24.5 Points|
Austin Wang: Stephen Curry is out for the Christmas Day playoff rematch between the Warriors and Grizzlies. The main beneficiary from Curry’s absence has been Jordan Poole. In the 24 games Poole has played where Curry was out since the beginning of last season, he has averaged 26.2 points per game.
To be fair, either Draymond Green and/or Klay Thompson missed a majority of those games, so that meant even additional usage for Poole. However, digging even further, Poole scored at an even higher rate with both Green and Thompson in the lineup: 28.3 points per game over 10 games. He hit over the 24 points mark in eight of those 10 games. Green’s playmaking ability and Thompson drawing additional attention from opposing defenses allows more success for Poole.
Poole’s shooting splits are better at home: In his career, he shoots 43.7% from the field at home vs. 40.2% on the road. This game will be fast-paced and I think Poole will have ample opportunities to get over this points prop.
|Pick||Over 18.5 Points|
Tyler Schmidt: In what should have been one of the best Christmas Day games on the slate, the Golden State Warriors currently rank outside of the Play-In Tournament in the Western Conference. Sitting at 15-18, the Warriors will try to add onto their stellar 12-2 home record as they welcome in the Memphis Grizzlies.
The Grizzlies are 4.5-point road favorites as they have won eight of their last 10 games. Now that Desmond Bane has returned, the Grizzlies are fully healthy, while the Warriors are playing their fifth game without Stephen Curry.
There are several great props to target in this game, especially on the Grizzlies’ side. However, there is one prop that stands out above the rest.
After missing over a month and 17 straight games, Bane finally returned Friday night in the Grizzlies’ 125-100 victory over the Suns. Bane played 24 minutes, but he came out in the fourth quarter when the Grizzlies had a 110-83 lead with 6:43 left. Expect his minutes to increase Sunday.
No player on the Grizzlies played more than 28 minutes last game, so they should be well-rested coming into Christmas Day. Despite playing 24 minutes, Bane was able to score 17 points, as he shot a poor 4-of-13 from the field and 2-of-8 from behind the arc. He did make all seven of his free-throw attempts.
Before his injury, Bane scored 19 or more points in nine straight games while averaging 28 points per game during that time.
Ja Morant also missed time this season, but he played in all nine of those games with Bane. In his third season in the league, Bane is averaging a career-high 24.1 points per game.
The Warriors’ defense is not what it used to be. It currently ranks 25th in Defensive Rating (114.1) entering today’s games. Playing at the second-fastest Pace, the Warriors are allowing 117.9 points per game, which ranks as the fourth-highest in the league.
This is a great spot for exposure to Bane’s points.
This points prop line started at 16.5 points and is currently at 18.5. I would take this up to 19.5 on FanDuel, but put this bet in before it continues to climb closer to game time.
The Grizzlies have a 116.75 implied team total as they are 4.5-point road favorites.
I love Bane and the Grizzlies in this matchup.
Phoenix Suns vs. Denver Nuggets
|Pick||Under 16.5 Points|
Matt Moore: Gordon has been phenomenal this season; he’s honestly played at an All-Star level. He’s shooting 76.4% in the restricted area, and they’re not all wide open dunks off Nikola Jokic passes; he’s finishing over and through multiple tough contests.
So why am I taking the under? Because Michael Porter Jr. is back.
With MPJ in the lineup vs. Portland, Gordon scored just 13 points even in an easier defensive matchup because he only had nine shots. Jokic has to get shots, Murray has to get shots, MPJ will get shots, and there just aren’t enough to go around.
This number is closer to Gordon’s average for the season than what it will be with a fully healthy team.
|Pick||Over 1.5 3-Pointers|
This game will be a huge showdown for both teams in terms of tiebreakers because of how close the Western Conference standings are thus far.
One area that the Nuggets have excelled at this season is shooting the 3-ball. In fact, the Nuggets are the best 3-point percentage team in the entire league. The Nuggets have three different players on their roster who are shooting it above 40% from beyond the arc.
One of those players is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. KCP leads the Nuggets in 3-point percentage (46.3%) thus far this season. Further, he is averaging two makes per game. However, over the last five games, KCP is shooting the 3-pointer at 47.3% and has knocked down at least two 3-pointers in three straight games.
Despite not giving up tons of makes from beyond the arc, the Suns do rank No. 24 in opponent 3-point percentage. In fact, that number has stayed consistent over the last five games, as they are allowing their opponents to shoot 39.7% from the 3-point line (24th).
|Pick||Under 21.5 REB + AST|
Joe Dellera: Are we really betting against the back-to-back league MVP?
Yes, yes we are.
This is a number he can honestly clear with just rebounds as we saw the other night but this is too high against the Phoenix Suns and Deandre Ayton.
In 13 career games vs Ayton, Jokic has exceeded this line in just three of 13 games and he averages 11.6 Rebounds and 6.6 Assists. Additionally, he’s only hit this in nine of 28 games and the Suns are a Pace Down spot.