NBA Best Bets - Boxing Day
Your Boxing Day is sorted! Five NBA games back to back to back to back to back on a thrilling day of hoops.
Milwaukee Bucks @ New York Knicks
It’s an early rise for the basketball diehards here in Australia on Boxing Day as the Christmas Day spectacular in the NBA features five games back-to-back beginning with the Knicks hosting the Bucks at Madison Square Garden.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks are looking to bounce back after a disappoint 94-87 loss to the Miami Heat, snapping a four-game win streak. Antetokounmpo was held to a season-low 9 points on 3-12 shooting while the team was held to 87 points, another season low.
The Knicks slumped to their fourth straight loss on Friday, losing to fellow Eastern Conference cellar-dwellers Atlanta Hawks. It’s the fourth time this season the Knicks have lost at least four straight. The season series is currently split at 1-1 with the Knicks winning their last matchup at the Garden 136-134 when they started as -8 underdogs. They will go into this one in a similar position but it will be hard to replicate that performance.
Tip: Bucks -10
The Bucks will be eager to bounce back off their poor shooting display against the Heat and will look to make amends for their loss to the Knicks at the start of the month. It’s hard to see the Knicks making it competitive.
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Houston Rockets
The next match on the slate for Boxing Day is a Western Conference showdown between the Thunder and rejuvenated Rockets. The Rockets have won six of their past seven to jump back into playoff calculations and find the form that led them to a season-high 65 wins last season.
While they’re still a long way off those lofty heights, the improved defence and form of reigning MVP James Harden has seen the W column start to gain momentum. Harden scored 39 points in their last outing against the Spurs which was his sixth straight with 30+ and their first victory of the season without Chris Paul who’s expected to miss a long period.
The Thunder had their four-game win streak snapped against the Timberwolves and missed a chance to move to outright top of the Western Conference. Paul George scored a game-high 31 points but missed a three-pointer at the buzzer to win the game. It was his seventh in his last 11 outings.
The Thunder have won three of their past four outings against the Rockets including a 98-80 win earlier in the season but go into this one as slight underdogs at Toyota Center where the Rockets are 10-5 this season.
Tip : Thunder H2H
The loss of Chris Paul is significant and could be difficult for the Rockets to overcome. The Thunder have been in brilliant form and can continue that run on Boxing Day.
Philadelphia 76ers @ Boston Celtics
Traditional rivals headline arguably the match of the day on Boxing Day as the Celtics host the 76ers for Eastern Conference bragging rights. The Celtics currently hold those rights having won eight of their past 10 fixtures and having beaten them 4-1 in last year’s playoffs.
Boston snapped their three-game skid against the Hornets on Monday, their first win at the Garden in their four-game home stand which concludes on Boxing Day. The Sixers took advantage of a short-handed Raptors team at home on Sunday, winning 126-101 with more star performances from Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and will be primed for a tilt at what many believe are still the class of the east.
The Sixers have traditionally struggled in Boston, having won just five of their past 21 matches at the venue and have a 6-9 record away from home this season.
Tip: Celtics -4.5
The Celtics are always strong at home and despite a few recent hiccups, they will be primed to take down one of their oldest foes on the big stage.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Golden State Warriors
LeBron James meets the Warriors for the first time this season in his new colours as the Lakers travel to Oracle Arena to take on the Warriors. The Last time James faced the Warriors, they were routing the Cavs in Cleveland on their way to a clean sweep and second consecutive NBA Championship.
It was a bitter end to James’ second stint for his hometown Cavs who improbably reached the NBA Finals for a fourth consecutive year. A new chapter now begins as he finds himself in the same conference as the all-conquering Warriors.
It’s been a great start for the Lakers who sit 4th in the Western Conference with a 19-14 record but have lost three of their last four. LeBron James’ scoring has cooled off since Brandon Ingram’s return from injury and the Lakers will rely heavily on a big outing by the 4 x MVP.
The Warriors have beaten the Lakers in seven consecutive games, their last loss coming way back on November 4, 2016. However, this is a vastly different looking Lakers team with LeBron James leading the charge and will no doubt put it to the Warriors who have gone 15-3 at home this season.
Tip: Lakers +8.5
No doubt LeBron James will come out fired up and look to make a statement against his greatest foes. The line looks healthy enough for the Lakers to keep it close and maybe surprise.
Portland Trail Blazers @ Utah Jazz
The fifth and final game on Boxing Day in the NBA is the Jazz hosting the Blazers as both teams look to return to the playoffs again this season.
It will be the team’s second meeting in the last four days with the Jazz blowing out the Blazers on their home court 120-90 on Saturday. That loss for the Blazers is their only loss in their past five games who have turned their form around since slumping at the end of November.
The Jazz remain two games below .500 (16-18) with inconsistency crippling them. They’ve had more games decided by 10+ than 1-10 highlighting their up and down season but have hit a mini purple patch with a win over the Warriors and a one-point loss to the Thunder bookending their rout of the Blazers.
Tip: Trail Blazers +6.5
The start for the Blazers looks tempting for a team who will be looking to make amends after their big loss only a few days ago. The Jazz haven’t had the same success on their home floor this season and in a flip of the coin match we’re keen to take the plus.