The NBA has a five-game slate on Christmas Day that will give you your hoops fix from morning to night. I went ahead and ranked every matchup in terms of intrigue and watchability.
5. Memphis Grizzlies (19-11, 14-15-1 ATS) vs. Golden State Warriors (15-18, 14-19 ATS)
No Steph Curry (shoulder) and a struggling Warriors team that has lost six-of-seven both straight up and ATS? Yeah, I’m good on this one. Golden State is allowing the third-best effective field goal percentage to opponents over its last 10 games (L10), which is a big reason why the last seven Warriors games have all gone over.
Memphis ranks first in opponents effective field goal percentage L10 and could conceivably route the Warriors on Christmas. To make matters worse for Golden State, Desmond Bane (toe) could be back in the lineup for the Grizzlies.
The main reason to watch this game is due to Ja Morant’s greatness as he’s in the midst of another incredible season averaging 27 points, 6.4 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game.
4. Phoenix Suns (19-13, 17-15 ATS) vs. Denver Nuggets (19-11, 13-17 ATS)
This is the second-best game on the slate when factoring in the quality of both teams, and I’m very aware of the disrespect that comes with putting this matchup No. 4 on my intrigue rankings. I should be more eager to watch Devin Booker and Nikola Jokic square off in what could be a preview of this year’s Western Conference Finals. The issue is that Booker is dealing with a groin injury and might not play.
The pair of division leaders will enter red hot as Denver is 4-1 straight up L5 and Phoenix is 3-1 L4.
3. Dallas Mavericks (16-16, 11-19-2 ATS) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (13-18, 12-18-1 ATS)
Both teams continue to underwhelm this season but LeBron James vs. Luka Doncic is all the convincing I need to watch this one.
2. Philadelphia 76ers (18-12, 18-12 ATS) vs. New York Knicks (18-14, 17-13-2 ATS)
I’m a sucker for great environments, and a rocking Madison Square Garden is as good as it gets in the NBA. It’ll be raucous on Saturday as the Knicks welcome the Sixers to town. These are both teams with intriguing rosters who continue to struggle to get over the hump against the rest of the powerhouses in the Eastern Conference.
The 76ers have been one of the hottest teams in the league of late, riding a 6-0 winning streak straight up (5-1 ATS). They’re doing so without Tyrese Maxey, who remains out with a foot injury.
The Knicks to be in the middle of another “good but not good enough” campaign, though New York has been red hot recently having just had an eight-game winning streak snapped by the Raptors on Wednesday. The Knicks are 8-2 ATS L10.
Jalen Brunson has been everything the Knicks could have hoped for as the prized free agent addition is averaging 20.4 points, 3.2 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game.
1. Milwaukee Bucks (22-9, 17-12-2 ATS) vs. Boston Celtics (22-10, 17-14-1 ATS)
This was an easy choice. The matchup of the two most recent Eastern Conference champions is also the expected pairing in this year’s ECF. The Celtics (+280) and Bucks (+480) own the two shortest odds on WynnBET to hoist this season’s Larry O’Brien Trophy.
These two teams met in the Eastern Conference semis last year with Boston winning in seven games. The Celtics have been struggling of late having lost five-of-six straight up and going 0-5-1 ATS in that stretch. The Bucks are 3-2 straight up and 3-2 ATS L5.
The good news is that these teams will be close to full strength on Christmas so long as Robert Williams (illness) and Marcus Smart (illness) are good to go. Khris Middleton (knee) will be the game’s biggest question mark.