Christmas is one of the most exciting days of the year, especially for basketball fans. Starting at 12 PM EST, viewers can enjoy a day-long buffet of some of the best teams and players the Association has to offer.
Want marquee franchises? The NBA has you covered with the Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks, and Boston Celtics tipping off, not to mention both teams from last summer’s NBA Finals.
Love watching superstars do their thing? Tune in to see LeBron James, Steph Curry, Jayson Tatum, James Harden, Donovan Mitchell, and more in action.
With five terrific games to unwrap this year, let’s dive in with our 2021 NBA Christmas best bets.
Christmas NBA odds and lines are current as of 10:30 a.m. ET on Friday, December 24.
NBA Christmas 2021 Best Bet Picks
Atlanta Hawks @ New York Knicks Prediction
The NBA Christmas slate kicks off with the Knicks hosting the Hawks at Madison Square Garden in a rematch of last year’s first-round postseason series, which Atlanta won in five games.
Both teams are still looking to find their footing this year, however, and currently find themselves hovering around .500. New York has struggled on offense, but more surprisingly the Knicks have taken a major step back on defense after allowing the fewest points per game in the NBA last year.
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Led by rising superstar Trae Young, Atlanta has one of the most potent offenses in the league. Their defense is their Achilles’ heel, however, costing them close games all too often.
- Read our full Hawks vs. Knicks Predictions & Bet Picks
The Hawks’ defense should have an easier time stopping the Knicks’ scuffling offense, which ranks near the bottom of the league in scoring and plays at one of the slowest paces in the NBA. Atlanta also isn’t afraid of playing at MSG, where they won 2-of-3 in last year’s playoffs, including the series clincher in Game 5.
While New York took the first meeting of the season series, 99-90, look for Atlanta to return the favor on Christmas Day.
NBA Christmas Hawks vs Knicks Pick: Hawks 104, Knicks 96
Hawks vs. Knicks Christmas Best Bet: Hawks Moneyline (+180) at Caesars
Wager: 1 Unit
While the Hawks haven’t kicked it into gear yet, we know what they’re capable of. This is a team that blew away the Knicks during last year’s playoffs en route to an Eastern Conference Finals appearance.
Atlanta will be missing stars Young and Clint Capela due to COVID-19 Health and Safety protocols, but the Knicks will also be missing some key pieces.
Lastly, the Knicks have been weirdly bad at MSG this year, so home-court advantage doesn’t seem like it will be a factor here. Take Atlanta to win this one at plus money on our NBA gameday odds.
Boston Celtics @ Milwaukee Bucks Prediction
In another Eastern Conference showdown, we get the Celtics taking on the defending NBA champions in Milwaukee.
On the surface, this looks like one of the more lopsided matchups of the day. While this would’ve been a more intriguing game a few years ago, Boston has become thoroughly mediocre since the beginning of last season.
Despite replacing Danny Ainge with Brad Stevens as president of basketball operations and bringing in first-year head coach Ime Udoka, the Celtics’ changes in leadership have yet to produce better results on the court.
While Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are terrific wing players, Boston still lacks a true point guard and the necessary size to compete with the league’s elite.
- Read our full Celtics vs. Bucks Predictions & Bet Picks
The Bucks, on the other hand, remain the team to beat in the East after winning it all last year. Giannis is a force to be reckoned with, and there’s still enough talent around him for Milwaukee to make another title run.
Boston’s defense hasn’t been up to par this season and will likely struggle to contain Giannis, who was inactive for the Celtics’ overtime win against the Bucks earlier this year. Assuming Giannis plays, he’ll be more than enough to put Milwaukee over the top this time around.
NBA Christmas Celtics vs Bucks Pick: Bucks 108, Celtics 100
Celtics vs Bucks Christmas Best Bet: Bucks -3 (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 0.5 Units
While the Celtics have already beaten the Bucks twice this season, both of those games were in Boston and the first one was without Giannis. The Celtics have been far less successful on the road, however, and just lost four out of five on a recent West Coast swing against quality opponents such as the Jazz, Lakers, and Suns.
Despite what happened in Boston, the Bucks are clearly superior to the Celtics and will be eager to prove it on their home court. They’re heavy moneyline favorites, so consider taking Milwaukee to cover the spread at better value.
Golden State Warriors @ Phoenix Suns Prediction
Speaking of teams that appeared in the 2021 NBA Finals, the Suns are also playing on Christmas Day when Steph Curry’s Warriors come to town.
This figures to be a great matchup between two teams duking it out for the top seed in the Western Conference. After a couple of years in the NBA wilderness, Golden State has re-tooled and is back to being one of the best teams in basketball under Steve Kerr.
- Read our full Warriors vs. Suns Predictions & Bet Picks
One of the teams that passed them in the interim is the Suns, who picked up right where they left off after coming within two games of winning it all last year. Led by Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and Deandre Ayton, Phoenix has a tremendous all-around team that’s hungry to return to the Finals and finish the job this time around.
In terms of offense and defense, both rank among the top teams in the league. Neither side has a clear advantage.
With how evenly matched these teams are, this game could go either way. They’ve already split their first two meetings of the season, so I’ll take the Suns in a squeaker.
NBA Christmas Suns vs Warriors Pick: Suns 107, Warriors 105
Suns vs Warriors Christmas Best Bet: Warriors +6 (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 1 Unit
With how well both teams have played this year, picking one to win outright is basically a toss-up.
In that case, you might as well take the team with the points. The Warriors could easily game this win outright, and if they lose, it will likely only be by a basket.
This is going to be a close, hard-fought game between two of the best teams in basketball. Back Golden State to cover for our NBA bet of the day.
Brooklyn Nets @ Los Angeles Lakers Prediction
On a day of star-studded contests, this might be the most star-studded game on the slate.
While Brooklyn remains without Kyrie Irving, that’s a lot more manageable when you already have Kevin Durant and James Harden. The Nets are currently at the top of the Eastern Conference standings and will likely finish there when it’s all said and done.
- Read our full Nets vs. Lakers Predictions & Bet Picks
Los Angeles boasts an impressive collection of talent as well, headed by LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, and Anthony Davis. The results have been underwhelming thus far, however, as LA’s defense has regressed badly from last year.
Both of these teams are built to win the Finals, but it hasn’t clicked yet for Los Angeles. I’m sure they’ll figure it out eventually, but for now I’m going with the team that’s playing better at the moment.
NBA Christmas Nets vs Lakers Pick: Nets 116, Lakers 110
Nets vs Lakers Christmas Best Bet: Nets Moneyline (+100) at Caesars
Wager: 0.5 Units
The Nets have been the much better team thus far, so I’m surprised to see them as underdogs. This is likely due to LA’s home-court advantage as well as LeBron’s history of playing well on Christmas.
While the Lakers have started playing better of late, it’s still hard to trust them until we see them put together a consistent stretch, especially in this brutal matchup against the best team in the Eastern Conference.
I prefer the team with the better track record but wouldn’t be surprised if Los Angeles won, which is why I’m only recommending half a unit here. Plus, with the absences of Durant and Davis, it’s hard to say who really has the edge here.
Dallas Mavericks @ Utah Jazz Prediction
After an action-packed day of hoops, we wrap things up with a Western Conference tilt between Dallas and Utah.
The Mavericks feature arguably the NBA’s most dynamic player in Luka Doncic, who makes anything feel possible whenever he’s on the court. Thanks to his string of ridiculous playoff performances, he’s one of the few players who qualify as must-watch TV.
- Read our full Mavericks vs. Jazz Predictions & Bet Picks
The Jazz might not be the most exciting team in the NBA, but they could very well be the best. They’re excellent on both ends of the court and do everything well, reminiscent of the old San Antonio Spurs. If you’re a fan of good basketball, Donovan Mitchell and co. rarely disappoint.
Kristaps Porzingis will look to keep Dallas in this game, but they won’t be enough to overcome a team with as much depth and balance as Utah.
NBA Christmas Mavericks vs Jazz Pick: Jazz 105, Mavericks 98
Mavericks vs Jazz Christmas Best Bet: Jazz -12 (-110) at Caesars
Wager: 1 Unit
The Jazz are in contention for the best team in the Western Conference, while the Mavericks are a .500 team being carried by Doncic’s exploits. The good news for Utah is that Doncic will most likely miss this game.
Dallas will hang in this game for awhile, but in the end I think Utah pulls away enough to cover the spread.