NBA betting market report: Picks, advice for Christmas Day

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Welcome to the daily NBA betting market report, your source for analysis on the betting lines for the day in professional hoops. For updates throughout the day follow me on Twitter, or check out The Edge daily at 4 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. PT.

All game lines via VSiN NBA Odds page.

Market Report for Christmas Day

Good morning everyone and Merry Christmas! I hope you’re all having an incredible holiday, and hopefully this column can make it better with some insight that leads you toward some winners. Sadly, a couple of these games have been ruined by COVID, and that is reflected in the change in these numbers. It should still be a great slate, and we have NFL action today too!

*Indicates team is on the second leg of a back-to-back

**Lines are opening numbers

Atlanta Hawks at New York Knicks (-1.5, 219.5)

Ten players, including Trae Young, are in COVID protocol for Atlanta, and for that reason New York is a considerable favorite here. Along with Young on the sideline are Clint Capela, Danilo Gallinari, Kevin Huerter and Lou Williams. Delon Wright figures to start at point guard alongside Bogdan Bogdanovic at shooting guard which is a lineup configuration that has a -1.1 net rating, but over an infinitesimal sample size. John Collins will be available and with those two in his backcourt the Hawks have a + 9.2 net rating, so not all is lost for Atlanta tonight. New York will be without Nerlens Noel and Derrick Rose, but the Knicks will be able to roll out most of its regular rotation which should be a massive advantage here. However, there is not much positive data to back that up. When Alec Burks and Julius Randle are on the floor together the Knicks are outscored by 8.5 points per 100 possessions. Should Kemba Walker start at point guard beside those two the net rating drops to -9.9 and their defense gives up 115.3 points per 100 possessions. Replace Walker with RJ Barrett, who is available this morning, and that net rating is -16.5 per 100 possessions! In short, the Knicks are a flawed team I would rather stay away from laying a number with. They are 3-8 SU and ATS for a reason in December, and should this number get to -7 or higher I will be sweating out an ugly underdog on Christmas morning.

Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks (-6, 232.5)

One has to wonder who is going to be playing in the frontcourt for Boston today. Eight players are out in COVID protocol and six others are questionable to play for a variety of reasons. Robert Williams is going to be available, but three other members of the frontcourt, Al Horford, Enes Kanter and Grant Williams, are either questionable or out. Jabari Parker and Juancho Hernangomez are questionable to play as well and Bruno Fernando is among those who will not play. This is going to be a potentially tiny Boston team taking the floor today in Milwaukee. That could be a problem against the ninth-best overall rebounding team in the league (50.6% rebounding rate) that is getting healthier. Giannis Antetokounmpo is expected to make his return to the floor, and Donte DiVincenzo is set to make his season debut as well making this quite the lopsided affair when it comes to player availability. With Antetokounmpo on the floor the Bucks are outscoring opponents by 11.3 points per 100 possessions and limiting opponents to just 103.8 points per 100 possessions. His availability, along with the personnel issues for the Celtics, is why we saw this total initially drop to 219.5 yesterday. Personally, I agree with the initial market move. Some might believe the presence of Antetokounmpo might help the scoring here, but it is the opposite. He makes Milwaukee a much better team on defense, and should the Bucks be able to control the glass like it seems they will it means limited opportunities for Boston. Let’s go in that direction then and play Under the total in the early afternoon game.

Play: UN 221

Golden State Warriors at Phoenix Suns (-3.5, 228.5)

COVID has sunk its claws into Golden State’s roster and the Warriors’ depth has taken a massive hit as a result. Jordan Poole, Damion Lee and Andrew Wiggins are set to miss this contest against Phoenix which gives the Suns a massive advantage when the reserves hit the floor. As I have pointed out many times, Golden State is very reliant on Stephen Curry to create offense, and next in that pecking order are Poole and Wiggins. With those two sidelined the bench minutes for the Warriors are going to be a slog against this Suns defense. Golden State owns a 98.4 offensive rating in those few possessions without Curry, Wiggins and Poole on the floor. Those possessions include Lee as well, which means this offense could be even worse in those minutes without Curry on the floor. Then there is the issue of the Warriors’ size, or lack thereof. In the two games these two played Deandre Ayton put up 47 total points on 18-of-35 shooting from the floor while grabbing 18 rebounds with 4 blocks. The Warriors do not have a true center on their roster without Wiseman, and this will continue to be an issue for them in a matchup against Phoenix until he returns. This might seem like a large number, but given the roster issues the Warriors are facing and the inherent advantages the Suns have, including having Devin Booker who was not available in either game, this is a fair number for Phoenix to lay.

Brooklyn Nets at Los Angeles Lakers (-1.5, 235.5)

There will be no Kevin Durant for Brooklyn today, but James Harden makes his triumphant return to give Brooklyn a shot at the upset at what is now Crypto.com Arena. LaMarcus Aldridge and Joe Harris are unavailable as well, but these lineups with Harden running the show can still be effective. When Harden and Patty Mills share the floor without Durant the Nets outscore opponents by 10.4 points per 100 possessions, and they do so with an underrated defense. Brooklyn enters today sixth in non-garbage time defensive efficiency, allowing 107.1 points per 100 possessions. In those Harden/Mills lineups they have a 100.5 defensive rating due to the efforts of the role players around them, and that aspect of their game has been a very unheralded part of this team’s rise to the top spot in the Eastern Conference. That defense will be a problem for a Lakers team that is dealing with multiple absences and poor offensive play. Over the last six games Los Angeles is averaging only 99.2 points per 100 possessions, the worst offensive rating in the league over that span. They already rank 27th in non-garbage time offensive efficiency, and it is hard to make a case they will figure out the offense today against the Nets. Los Angeles is favored tonight, but only by 1.5 which tells us the betting market believes this version of Brooklyn to be the better team and I agree. The Lakers are 0-4 SU/1-3 ATS in its last four games and I expect that slide to continue tonight.

Play: Nets (+ 1.5)

Dallas Mavericks at Utah Jazz (-4.5, 226.5)

There is not much to say about this game given the personnel issues Dallas is dealing with right now. Eight players are listed as out, seven of which are in COVID protocol, and one of them is Luka Doncic. On top of that, Kristaps Porzingis is questionable to play with a toe injury. Utah’s injury report is clean, and thus they are -13.5 at every shop on the screen. The number is apt given the state of this team, so I do not see any edge here, but I will focus on a player. Jalen Brunson has been incredible while playing the role of creator for Dallas, and his numbers are astounding. As a starter he is putting up 20.7 points, 7.2 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game on 49.5% shooting from the floor. The market has come around on him and his player props are starting to reflect his statistical output, as his points, rebounds, assists prop is listed at 30.5 tonight over at DraftKings. Other than that, it is hard to make a case for Dallas, other than to say wait until the fourth quarter to jump on an inflated in-game line if they’re getting runout as the Jazz could call off the dogs in a laugher.

Best Bets Summary

Celtics/Bucks UN 221

Nets (+ 1.5)

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