NBA Christmas Day betting odds: experts agree on Bucks and Clippers, divided into Pelicans, Lakers and Nets

The 2020-21 NBA season is officially underway and, due to the late start of this year, we are jumping straight into the Christmas Day festivities. As always, there are five landmark games on the lineup, with the league offering fans an exciting day of basketball.

That being the case, CBS Sports’ NBA team of experts came together to offer fans their choices regarding the spread of each of the league’s five games on Friday. You can find our choices for each of the five games scheduled for Christmas Day, as well as the rationale behind those selections, below.

All lines via William Hill Sportsbook

This is a game of “catching the points”, not necessarily because it will be close enough for them to matter, but because of the uncertainty around both sides here. Losing Miami to Orlando is not, in itself, very worrying, but it is clearly working on a rotation that seems a little crowded. Meyers Leonard and Avery Bradley did not play in the debut, and the Heat scored just 20 points out of 3, which would have been their second lowest number of attempts last season.

The Pelicans looked great in their debut, but what do we do with a team with so little theoretical kick doing 19 3s against the Raptors, who, by the way, are playing 2,100 kilometers from home right now? The Pelicans being the team that looked good is a bonus here. In fact, this is just a dangerous game, and if you are betting, you must take the points.

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The Bucks had the NBA’s best net rating last season, with + 9.4, and as the playoffs showed, they didn’t exactly deserve it by defeating opponents. No, they gained weight with the worst teams in the NBA, making huge explosions against opponents they could not physically follow. Well, it might be blasphemous to talk about Warriors like that, but that’s where they are now. The Nets kicked them off the ground on opening night for entirely explainable reasons.

They are losing their best defender (Draymond Green), starting a rookie in the center (James Wiseman) and have no above average defenders remaining in their rotation. Of course, they will give up a lot of points. Curry is the only above average shooter in the top five. This, of course, limits spacing. There may be a version of the Warriors that brings it all together, but remember, they were defeated by 47 points in the first four games of last season too. Even with Curry, this may just be a bad team right now.

Strangely, this line is an acknowledgment that Vegas also does not value the Warriors. The Nets were great, but they’re still not getting a lot of love from the books. This is probably due to Boston’s impressive opening win against the Bucks, but just as the Celtics played in that game, the general problems remain. They will still struggle to create photos without Kemba Walker. The center rotation is still in flux. Jayson Tatum cannot be Superman every night.

This is an advantage that Nets has over almost any opponent. If Kevin Durant is off, Kyrie Irving may be on. Caris LeVert and Spencer Dinwiddie can fix both. Brooklyn’s chances of fighting to score on any given night are almost nonexistent because of how many kickers he has. Boston doesn’t have that luxury, unless Jeff Teague is really as good as he looked on opening night. With that looking unlikely, Brooklyn is the safest bet.

The Lakers at full strength should be able to beat the Mavericks without Kristaps Porzingis very comfortably. The Lakers just don’t seem to be in full swing right now, and that is by choice. LeBron James played 28 minutes of the opening night. Anthony Davis played 31. If these teams face each other in the playoffs, the two are hovering around 80 minutes combined. They didn’t even make it to 60 against the Clippers, and that should be the expectation, since the title champions make way after the short off-season.

Basically, this game can be in three ways. Maybe the Lakers will blow up the Mavericks and rest doesn’t matter. But if it’s close from start to finish, even with James and Davis more engaged, six points seem like a reasonable buffer. And then, of course, there is a chance that the Mavericks will jump to a head start and the Lakers will take the game off at halftime. From a game point of view, these scenarios favor Dallas.

Denver Nuggets vs Los Angeles Clippers: Clippers -1

We can’t talk about this game without mentioning the revenge factor, but let’s put that aside for a moment and talk only about basketball. Denver lost Jerami Grant and Torrey Craig this off season, arguably their two best defenders. The Nuggets are about to play against Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, who looked very good on their debut. When you consider the loss of Mason Plumlee, Paul Millsap’s age-related decline and an increase in Michael Porter Jr.’s minutes, Denver’s frontline general defense took a big step back. Unsurprisingly, the Kings took advantage by hitting 53 shots in the paint in the first game.

This is a weakness that the Clippers can take advantage of, and with Serge Ibaka in tow, they now have a way to at least somewhat mitigate Denver’s biggest advantage – Nikola Jokic’s bully ball. The confrontation has returned a little in the direction of the Clippers and, yes, revenge is probably on their minds as well.