NBA Best Bets Today: Odds, predictions and picks for Christmas Day

By Jonathan Von Tobel  (Senior NBA Analyst) 

December 25, 2022 09:54 AM

Welcome to the daily NBA best bets page, your source for analysis on the betting lines for the day in professional hoops. For updates throughout the day follow me on Twitter, and make sure to subscribe to the Hardwood Handicappers podcast!

All game lines via the VSiN NBA odds page

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

**Lines are opening numbers

Best Bets

Record: 31-39 | Units: -9.02 | ROI: -11.95%

Philadelphia 76ers (-3.5, 219.5) at New York Knicks

Philadelphia enters this Christmas Day game on a 7-0 SU/6-1 ATS tear. On Friday it seemed that the run was coming to an end when the 76ers trailed the Clippers by 20 points, but a monster second half in which Philadelphia shredded Los Angeles’ defense for 1.417 points per possession kept the winning streak intact. That second half offensive explosion is a microcosm of this winning streak as a whole for the 76ers, as they have averaged 118.8 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time over this run. New York had its own run snuffed out a few nights ago, and now its resurgent offense must try to contain one of the most dynamic scoring duos this morning in Joel Embiid and James Harden.

The Knicks were allowing less than a point per possession during their own 8-0 SU and ATS run that ended on Wednesday, but over the last two games they have allowed 126.8 points per 100 possessions. With James Harden and Joel Embiid on the floor the 76ers are averaging 117.6 points per 100 possessions overall, and putting up a staggering 104.4 points per 100 halfcourt plays. New York will need to find a way to contain that attack, something easier said than done considering the lack of a true defensive stopper on the Knicks’ roster.

There is also another end of the floor to consider here, but Philadelphia might have that covered as well. Tyrese Maxey has been out for some time with this foot injury, and in his place De’Anthony Melton has been tremendous. With Embiid, Harden and Melton on the floor the 76ers are limiting opponents to 101.5 points per 100 possessions, and outscoring them 21.6 points. Melton is a great defensive piece in the backcourt that allows Harden to hide on lesser offensive weapons, and paired with both Embiid and P.J. Tucker, who are plus defenders in their own right, the 76ers have found an incredibly efficient lineup that gets it done on both ends of the floor. 

The openers you see on the game matchups stem from the offseason. New York deserves to have its rating adjusted due to the better play it has put forth lately, and that is why we see this number now at -2 consensus. Having said that, Philadelphia has become the team many expected they could be at the beginning of the season. They have a lineup which can be elite on both ends of the floor, and two stars which have found their game with one another. This will be an excellent game to find in-game opportunities given the tight preflop number, and I will be looking for cheap numbers on the 76ers this morning.

Los Angeles Lakers at Dallas Mavericks (-4, 218.5)

The injuries that Dallas is dealing with are staggering, and yet the market does not seem phased by them at all. The Mavericks will take the floor this afternoon without Dorian Finney-Smith, Maxi Kleber and Josh Green, all of whom are good defensive players. Finney-Smith figured to be one of the primary defenders for LeBron James, and Kleber was often put on the floor with Christian Wood to protect him and give Dallas a defensive presence down low next to the less than stellar defender that Wood is. As we know, Los Angeles will not have Anthony Davis on the floor either, so the market has really driven this total up as of this morning with 232 being the current consensus number. 

Since losing Davis to injury the Lakers’ defense, already a below average unit, has dropped off a cliff. Opponents have put up 126.9 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage against Los Angeles in the four games since his injury, and the Lakers are 1-3 SU/0-4 ATS in those contests. It is likely that the poor defensive play continues for Los Angeles, which makes this game quite the conundrum.

Dallas is one of the most overvalued teams in the market this season. The Mavericks are 11-20-2 ATS (35.5%) this season, the second worst cover rate in the NBA, with a spread differential of -1.9 which is fifth worst. This team has been consistently overvalued in situations like this against lesser teams, and it is dealing with a multitude of injuries. Is the market getting this right in making this 7.5 in favor of Dallas, or is this another instance of bettors overvaluing Luka Doncic and the Mavericks?

Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics (-3.5, 219.5)

Khris Middleton will not play tonight, and it seems the market cannot stop betting on the Boston Celtics. This number is now 5.5 consensus with no signs of slowing down, and that seems to be somewhat strong at this point. Boston just barely snapped a 1-5 SU/0-5-1 ATS slide with a win and cover over Minnesota on Friday, and the betting market seems to believe that, along with Middleton’s absence is enough. Milwaukee comes into this game third in non-garbage time defensive efficiency (109.2) and without Middleton on the floor the team is still +4.4 with a 108.0 defensive rating. The Celtics only true physical match for Giannis Antetokounmpo is Al Horford, which the Greek Freak is certainly capable of handling when facing him in those possessions. The action seems pretty lopsided in favor of Boston here, and it is surprising given the diminish of homecourt this month and the recent play of the Celtics. I believe the Bucks might be pretty live here tonight, but want to see how far the market goes with this number.

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