Wall-to-wall NBA basketball is really the best gift a bettor could ask for and considering how the past two weeks of the season have played out, it’s a Christmas miracle that we’ll get all five games on Saturday.
Of the five games on today’s slate, our NBA analysts are making four bets across two matchup.
NBA Odds & Picks
|Click on a game to skip ahead|
|Warriors vs. Suns Game Prop||5 p.m. ET|
|Warriors vs. Suns Total||5 p.m. ET|
|Mavericks vs. Jazz Team Total||10:30 p.m. ET|
|Mavericks vs. Jazz First Half||10:30 p.m. ET|
Golden State Warriors vs. Phoenix Suns
|Pick||Suns to win by 1-10 (+170)|
|Tipoff||5 p.m. ET|
Brandon Anderson: It physically pains me to bet against the Warriors on Christmas Day, but I have to do it.
The Phoenix Suns are on a mission. They’re taking this regular season seriously, and they’re trying to show everyone last year’s Finals run was no fluke. Phoenix ripped off an 18-game win streak, and the Suns also showed up in a big way the first time these teams played. It was really the one time all season the full-strength Warriors have been straight up outplayed by an opponent.
Phoenix knows this is a big national TV moment at home with everyone watching. The Suns will want to make a statement and win this game.
And they’re in good position to do so, not necessarily because the matchup skews their way or anything I’ll worry about in May, but more because the Warriors just don’t have the bodies on the wing.
Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins are both in COVID protocols, and whatever you think about those guys, that is a huge amount of loss on the wing in a game against a top opponent. It’s effectively 65 or 70 minutes and close to 40 points that have to be redistributed among everyone else, and while the Warriors depth has been strong, that’s a steep ask for any team.
No Poole or Wiggins, plus no Klay Thompson yet either, means the Warriors just don’t have a ton of options left on offense. It means the Suns can really throw everything at Steph Curry, and everything starts with Mikal Bridges.
Remember, he really stymied Steph in that first meeting with a performance that got him some DPOY buzz. The Suns have a bunch of options to throw at Curry, especially since they don’t have to worry about slowing Poole or Wiggins, and Phoenix also has its big Deandre Ayton advantage in the middle.
This game just means more to the Suns, and I expect them to take care of business. But rather than playing the spread, I’ll play this winning band margin at FanDuel. The Warriors have lost by double digits only once all season, and that was a game without Steph Curry in the lineup. Curry hasn’t lost by double digits since mid April.
I’ll ride with the Suns getting the W, but I still expect Steph and Draymond to keep this relatively close. I’ll play the Suns to win by 1 to 10 points at FanDuel at +170. A little plus juice action should give us a very Merry Christmas.
Golden State Warriors vs. Phoenix Suns
Austin Wang: The Lakers and Nets were originally thought to be the main event of this Christmas Day slate, but the Warriors (26-6) and Suns (26-5) matchup will be the real gift.
This will be the rubber match between these two teams. Each team protected their homecourt in their respective wins and this game will decide which team has the best record in the NBA. Both of those games went under the total.
The Warriors’ Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins and Damion Lee will be out as they are in the league’s health and safety protocols. With those players out, expect more minutes from Gary Payton II, Otto Porter and potentially Andre Iguodala (currently listed as questionable), which would bode well for the Warriors’ defense that is already ranked first in Defensive Rating (101.4). The Suns are right behind them, ranking second in Defensive Rating (102.8).
Since the 2015-2016 season, games two elite teams (defined as teams with a 60%+ winning percentage) from the same conference have gone under 60% of the time.
These teams tend to play more defense against conference rivals when they are fighting for seeding. This should hold especially true for these two strong defensive teams as this rematch should have a more playoff feel to it.
The start time of this game is 5 p.m. ET, which is 2 p.m. local time for the Warriors. Games with early start times (6 p.m. ET or earlier) for teams in the Pacific Division have gone 151-107-1 (58.5%) to the under in the history of the Bet Labs database dating back to the 2005-2006 season. These teams’ offenses typically struggle when playing at start times outside of their normal routine.
Dallas Mavericks vs. Utah Jazz
|Pick||Mavericks Under 100.5|
|Tipoff||10:30 p.m. ET|
Malik Smith: Luka Doncic is out. Kristaps Porzingis is questionable with a toe injury and hasn’t played a game in six days. And six of the Dallas Mavericks’ other rotation players are in health and safety protocols.
I love Jalen Brunson but the Mavs already struggle to score when they have a full roster. They play at the slowest Pace in the NBA, and the Utah Jazz rank sixth in the NBA in points allowed per 100 possessions.
Our NBA contributor Austin Wang points out in his weekly over/under trends article that the Mavericks are among the lowest scoring teams in the league. No team in the NBA has been more profitable to bet the under than the Mavs (21-10, 67.7%) per Bet Labs, which makes the under tempting. Instead of betting both teams to keep this game under with an efficient Jazz on the other side, I think the value is on fading the Mavericks.
I think there’s a good chance Dallas doesn’t crack 100 here, something they’ve done 10 times this season (11 if you count their 93 points in regulation against the Lakers before their back-and-forth OT thriller).
Dallas Mavericks vs. Utah Jazz
|Pick||Mavs +5.5 1H|
Brandon Anderson: The Jazz are a regular season juggernaut. We know that by now. Utah has all the tools to take care of bad teams in the regular season.
That Rudy Gobert drop defense works like a charm, and the Jazz are still at the top of the NBA offensively. Utah leads the league in Offensive Rating — heck, the Jazz lead the league in Net Rating overall at Basketball Reference. We’ve seen this. We know this.
When the Jazz are a short or middle favorite, we should take them. That’s been true all of 2021. But when Utah is a big favorite, something goes awry. Maybe the Jazz get overconfident. Maybe they’re screwing around with lineups and trying things out. Whatever the reason, when Utah is a double digit favorite this season, it’s not working out that well.
The Jazz are only 5-7 as a double digit favorite this year. And that’s not ATS — it’s straight up. Five times this year a moneyline dog of +400 or longer has hit against Utah, giving double-digit ML dogs against the Jazz a ridiculous 140% ROI on the season.
You can get the Mavs as high as +575 at BetRivers if you want to just blindly follow the trend and get wild. Of course this is not the usual Mavericks. It doesn’t look like we’ll get Luka Doncic or Kristaps Porzingis, or even Tim Hardaway Jr. or Maxi Kleber for that matter. Instead it looks like another night of the Jalen Brunson show.
So you’re forgiven if you don’t want to follow the trend and bet the Christmas night long shot. But you should know that Brunson’s Mavs have more than held their own. They only lost by seven to the defending champ Bucks. They split a pair with the Wolves and were competitive in both.
They lost by a bucket to LeBron James and the Lakers. And yes, there were other players coming and going in those games too, but these Mavs have remained competitive even with Brunson and mostly spare parts.
I’m going to keep things easier and just look to play the first half. When Utah is at least a 3-point favorite in the first half this season, the Jazz are an ugly 8-16-1 ATS, covering only 33% of the time. Over the past month in that spot, they’ve covered only three of 13 such times in the first half.
I’ll think about playing the long shot moneyline for the game — after all, if we’re close at the half, we’ll have a shot. I do think the Jazz make sure to get the home Christmas win, but that doesn’t mean they’ll go wire to wire. I expect the Mavs to keep things close enough early to cover our first half line. I’ll play to +4.5.