The best holiday hoops bets to pack this year

The best holiday hoops bets to pack this year

The NFL has Thanksgiving. College football has New Year’s Day. MLB has July 4th (unless they inexplicably give half the league that day off). But NBA Christmastops them all. Five qualifying matches from 12:00 PM ET until the wee hours of Boxing Day.

This year, the Association is giving us (sorry, couldn’t resist) a holly jolly slate, starting with the Philadelphia 76ers at the suddenly surging New York Knicks at 12 p.m., followed by the Los Angeles Lakers at Dallas Mavericks at 2:30 p.m. Today’s juiciest showdown comes at 5:00 p.m. when the Boston Celtics host the Milwaukee Bucks in a matchup between the two best teams in the Eastern Conference. The Steph Curry-less Golden State Warriors face the Memphis Grizzlies at 8 p.m., and the Phoenix Suns visit two-time reigning MVP Nikola Joki? and the Denver Nuggets at 10:30 p.m.

From a gambling perspective, you have options. You can play things conventionally, examine the odds for each game and pick a team or over/under total straight up. Totally affordable, totally fun. A bit tame, but who’s to judge?

Or you can get weird and make some parlays based on the principles of a classic Christmas canon.



The Grinch Bet – Take the Unders

The Grinch character is seen throwing out shirts during the first half between the Atlanta Hawks and the Orlando Magic at State Farm Arena

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Basketball is a game based on scoring. Everyone likes offense. It’s fun to watch the ball go in the hoop, sure, go crazy. Woah! Everyone also likes Christmas. Gifts, family, fun, gifts, food, etc. Except The Grinch. The Grinch hates Christmas. The Grinch also hates scoring.

Make like The Grinch and take it under in all five games. You can play them right up to -110 for each game. Or you can go for the Heart Three Sizes Too Small Parlay and lump all five together. It pays around +2400. A 100% sucker bet that absolutely will not hit, but how fun would it be to stare at a screen for 12 and a half hours willing to miss shots?

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If you’re going to pick just one game to go under, I’d lean on the Sixers-Knicks matchup. Playing at dinner is weird. Last season, the Hawks outscored the Knicks by almost 20 points. When the Knicks hosted the Bucks at noon on Christmas Day in 2018, the underdog finished with 22 points. This season, the Knicks are losing in ~55% of their games. Combination of tough defense and an odd time to shoot the basketball on a cold NYC day? Lotta bricks!

I’ll Be Home For Christmas bet – Bet on the logos on the pitch

Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors stands on the court inside the logo and looks on against the Dallas Mavericks during the first half of an NBA basketball game at the Chase Center

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Maybe you won’t be home for Christmas. Maybe you won’t be home for Christmas. Maybe you don’t celebrate Christmas! Don’t let that stop you from putting all the home teams in a money bet.

The Knicks and Warriors are both underdogs at home this Christmas. New York dropped a tough game to the Raptors on Wednesday, but is riding an 8-game winning streak and looking to cement itself as a playoff contender in a crowded Eastern Conference. Golden State is missing Steph Curry, but that’s about it no love lost between the Warriors and the Grizzlies, and you know the defending world champions will make a statement on their home court.

Throw all the home teams together and you’re looking at a parlay of around +1700. Tap that and you’ll have a good answer for your asshole Uncle Jim when he asks how you can make money doing whatever it is you’re doing.

The Stocking Stuffers – Defense Wins Championships (and Games)

Robert Williams III #44 of the Boston Celtics blocks a shot against Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors in the first half during Game Four of the 2022 NBA Finals at TD Garden

Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

RELATED: Inside the Celtics-Bucks 49-year playoff history: From Kareem’s Skyhook to Bird’s dominance

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It’s Christmas morning and you wake up to find that Santa has filled your stocking with a couple of small gifts. If you grew up in my house, it usually was a couple of scratches.

But this Christmas we have a handful of shot blockers who will be filling shots all day. (Wow, what a joke that was!)

Player props will not be listed until Christmas morning. But go ahead and for now tag Robert Williams III and Jaren Jackson Jr. like over 1.5 blocks. Both big men started the season on the injured list, but are back showing their feathers. In his first 14 games of the season, Jackson is averaging over 3 blocks per contest, an eye-popping number that would easily be number one in the NBA. Williams has just 5 blocks through three games this year, but averaged over 2 per game last season.

Also check out Brook Lopez and Mitchell Robinson, both top five in blocks per game.

The star(s) at the top of the tree – Big names and big points

LeBron James #6 of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks the ball in the fourth quarter of the game against the Washington Wizards at Capital One Arena

Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

NBA stars know the league is showing up for Christmas. They watch SportsCenter and see the little graphic about who won the most games or averaged the highest points this Christmas. Or their teams just tweet about it.

We should bet accordingly.

In the Lakers-Mavericks matchup, look for LeBron James and Luka Doncic to both go through their individual scoring streaks. Dallas’ offense is incredibly one-dimensional this season, with Luka basically doing everything on every possession. LeBron, even in his 20th season, is averaging over 27 points per game and knows how to put on a show.

Likewise, expect Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jayson Tatum to fill up the stat sheet in their first rematch of last year’s second-round playoff series. The Celtics have weakened recently. They have lost 5 of their last 6 heading into this weekend’s action, falling below Milwaukee in the Eastern Conference standings. The Bucks will be looking for revenge after Boston ended their season last spring. Wouldn’t be surprised to see double 35 point performances for The Freak and Big Deuce.

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The Alf – Santa’s Assistant Bet

Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets controls the ball against Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks in the third quarter at the American Airlines Center

Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

How can Santa Claus deliver all these presents to all the little children around the world every year? Only with the help of an underpaid, overutilized workforce of elves!

In Christmas canon and in basketball lore, elves and assistant managers are historically small. But just like Will Ferrell is an exception to the little elf rule, Nikola Joki? is third in the league in assists per game and is 6-foot-11. Remember that scene where Buddy the Alf turns his arm into a machine gun in the snowball fight with the little kid in the Wayne Chrebet jersey? It’s Jokic-level accuracy, but with passing a basketball, and even without looking.

Looks to beat the big man’s over on assists this Christmas.

The Christmas Miracle – Go Big or Go Home

    Immanuel Quickley #5 and Jalen Brunson #11 of the New York Knicks look on against the Chicago Bulls during the first half at the United Center

Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images

We all remember wanting the best of Christmas presents. Maybe it was an action figure. Or a new video game. Or the stupid bb gun if you’re the annoying kid from the most overrated movie of all time.

But just because you’re not a little kid anymore doesn’t mean you can’t still believe in the magic of Christmas. Put together a five-way parlay and get the miracle you deserve.

  • 76ers at Knicks Below 219.5
  • Lakers (+7.5) on Mavericks
  • Buck at Celtics (-165 ML)
  • Grizzlies at Warriors Over 226
  • Suns at Nuggets (-2.5)

Parlay that together we’re talking a juicy +2000ish payout.

Merry Christmas and good effort!

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