Check out a quick breakdown of every game on the NBA’s annual Christmas Day slate. We’ll take a look at the Vegas lines and totals, recent trends, and a few players you can be targeting for your rosters from the whole day’s worth of great matchups.
New Orleans Pelicans @ Miami Heat – Noon, EST
Line: Heat -6
The strong slate of games on Christmas starts off with one of the game’s biggest stars facing off against one of the strongest teams in the East so far this season. The Heat play great team defense and have the size and athleticism up front to present a challenge to Davis, and yet you somehow instinctively know that he is the best player on the court – so the upside is there.
One of the biggest storylines in this one, though, involved a reversal of fortunes at the point guard slot. For New Orleans, Jrue Holiday has added another dimension to their offense, scoring in double-digits in every game this month. But for the Heat, Dragic is dealing with a sore wrist, having missed Tuesday’s game. He’s expected to play on Friday, but will likely not be 100% (currently listed as questionable). If he misses again, Beno Udrih becomes an immediate value play (34 minutes on Tuesday).
– Anthony Davis ($10,300)
– Tyreke Evans ($7,800)
– Hassan Whiteside ($7,100)
– Beno Udrih ($4,000)
Chicago Bulls @ Oklahoma City Thunder – 2:30 pm, EST
Line: OKC -8.5
It wasn’t that long ago that Derrick Rose was the most exciting, explosive young guard in the game, with, seemingly, no ceiling to his productivity. That mantle has been passed to Russell Westbrook, who has performed admirably under it, carrying this Thunder team to competitiveness single-handedly at times. But lately, he hasn’t had to, with Durant and him playing off each other in a way that makes you think they could have a legit shot at taking down anyone in the West in a playoff series, provided they stay healthy, of course. But with apologies to other great players around the league, you just don’t have another combo like this one when they’re both playing their best. Last ten days: Westbrook – 22 points, 5 rebounds, 8 assists, 2 steals; Durant – 25-6-5, with more than a block a night.
For the Bulls, this is the type of game in which Butler tends to shine even more than usual, as he tries to will his team to keep up with a higher-scoring opponent. So far on the year he has had 32 against Phoenix, 28 against GS, and 36 against Boston, doing more on offense just because the Bulls have no other choice. Just like Rose did en route to taking the Bulls to their last finals.
– Russell Westbrook ($10,400)
– Kevin Durant ($10,000)
– Jimmy Butler ($7,500)
– Serge Ibaka ($6,500)
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Golden State Warriors – 5 pm, EST
Line: Warriors -6.5
The game of the day is actually probably more than that – game of the month? Of the half-season? But I just realized something – for years now, the game of the day/week/month/year has involved LeBron. He was a required element. And sure, it certainly helps to have him there for this one, but when I was trying to decide what other matchups I might prefer to watch, I came up with Warriors-Spurs, of course, and Warriors-Thunder… in other words, the Warriors have replaced LeBron as THE required element in any must-watch TV viewing event of the season this year.
It is a bit of an interesting matchup, with a mis-match of strengths to some extent. I expect to see Draymond on LeBron a fair amount, which should leave some room for Love to perform. But for the most part, the analysis of this game is easy – just expect to see the stars shine in this one, with the potential for a whole lot of scoring from a whole lot of different guys.
– Stephen Curry ($10,700)
– LeBron James ($10,000)
– Kevin Love ($7,900)
– Klay Thompson ($7,400)
San Antonio Spurs @ Houston Rockets – 8 pm, EST
Line: Spurs -8
We’re going to have to assume the Spurs are going to want to try to win this one. That risk – that they might not care – is always the biggest fear you have going into a Spurs game. But Christmas Day, I don’t even think Pop has the nerve to destroy a slate of marquee games for the NBA like that.
The Rockets are sitting at 15-15 coming in, and they were expecting a lot better than a .500 record this year, so I really expect them to start reeling off some wins in a row in the near future, I just don’t know if it starts with this matchup. I do think you can expect to see a good game from Harden – he can create his own shot with ease, and doesn’t need to challenge the interior defense of the Spurs to score, which is where their real strength lies.
– James Harden ($10,400)
– Kawhi Leonard ($8,400)
– Tony Parker ($5,100)
– Patrick Beverley ($4,700)
Los Angeles Clippers @ Los Angeles Lakers – 10:30 pm, EST
Line: Clippers -11.5
The Clippers are sitting in 5th place in the West right now, but have lost three straight – to the Thunder, the Rockets, and the Spurs. Suffice it to say, they should be excited to get a slightly different quality of opponent in this one. Favored by 11.5 with a total set at 207.5, Vegas is expecting them to score almost 110 points, and there is no reason to expect that it comes from anyone but the usual suspects – basically, Chris Paul and Blake are in line for big games.
For the Lakers, you are hoping Kobe can turn back the clock for another dominating performance on Christmas, or you are taking a shot on Hibbert, and that is about it.
– Blake Griffin ($9,000)
– Chris Paul ($8,600)
– DeAndre Jordan ($6,700)
– Roy Hibbert ($4,600)