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NBA on Christmas odds, picks, betting guide: Warriors at Suns highlights five-game schedule that includes Nets at Lakers, Mavericks at Jazz – The Athletic

The NBA on Christmas has become one of the biggest American sports traditions on the calendar. This year, there are five games on Christmas day and they feature the teams with the four best records in the league. The marquee game is in the middle of the schedule with the Golden State Warriors and Phoenix Suns meeting with best record in the NBA on the line.

We’ve gathered the matchups, schedule, TV listings, odds and straight up picks from NBA writers Zach Harper, Sam Vecenie and Cole Huff. Cole has his own preview of the NBA Christmas games that has a Christmas wishlist, highlights the best matchups of the day and more. Zach has a Christmas drinking guide if you’re looking to have fun in a different way.

Atlanta Hawks at New York Knicks

Noon ET, ESPN

Team Spread Total Moneyline

Picks

Pick
Zach Harper
Sam Vecenie

Both the Hawks and Knicks have taken a step back from where they were a season ago. Both teams enter with losing records.

Sunday’s Hawks-Cavaliers game was postponed due to a number of players being put in the league’s COVID-19 health and safety protocol, including Trae Young. The Hawks have played two games since, even beating the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday without Young. Young is second in the league in scoring (27.3 PPG), but is not expected to be available

The Knicks also had a number of players put in health and safety protocol, including R.J. Barrett and Obi Toppin, but have cleared protocol and New York hasn’t had a game postponed yet. On top of that, Derrick Rose is out several weeks after undergoing ankle surgery on Wednesday.

Whoever is on the court, get ready to hear “bing bong” a whole bunch in Madison Square Garden.

Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks

2:30 p.m. ET, ABC

Team Spread Total Moneyline

Picks

Pick
Zach Harper
Sam Vecenie

The Bucks haven’t been a dominant regular season force this season, but are just two games behind the Brooklyn Nets for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics are right where they finished last season, .500.

Giannis Antetokounmpo hasn’t played since Dec. 13 while in COVID-19 protocols, but has cleared protocols. Teammate Khris Middleton returned Wednesday after missing three games with a knee injury and played both games of a back-to-back. On the Celtics side, Jayson Tatum has been playing through a left ankle sprain and has shot below 40% from the field in each of the last three games.

Golden State Warriors at Phoenix Suns

5 p.m. ET, ABC

Team Spread Total Moneyline

Picks

Pick
Zach Harper
Sam Vecenie

The Warriors and Suns have the best two records in the NBA, which has made this a bit of a surprise marquee game on this slate. The Suns made the NBA Finals last year, but the Warriors’ resurgence before Klay Thompson’s return has been one of the surprises of the season so far. Thompson won’t play in this game, but it’s still a good barometer for both teams and a potential playoff preview.

Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole and Damion Lee are in COVID-19 health and safety protocols, which is a blow for the Warriors. Wiggins and Poole are the second and third-leading scorers on the team behind Steph Curry.

Brooklyn Nets at Los Angeles Lakers

8 p.m. ET, ABC and ESPN

Team Spread Total Moneyline

Picks

Pick
Zach Harper
Sam Vecenie

Do we know what the Lakers are yet? The record is far from special, but injuries continue to be a problem. LeBron James has only played 21 games and Anthony Davis has a knee injury that will have him out for at least a few more weeks. The rotating cast of characters behind that hasn’t helped continuity either.

Meanwhile, the Nets look like the best team in the Eastern Conference, even without Kyrie Irving. However, Brooklyn had games on Dec. 19, 21 and 23 postponed due to several players being in COVID-19 protocols. It wasn’t clear if this game would happen, but the Nets will have enough players to play, including James Harden. Kevin Durant will not play.

Dallas Mavericks at Utah Jazz

10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Team Spread Total Moneyline

Picks

Pick
Zach Harper
Sam Vecenie

The Mavericks are a solid 12-9 when Luka Doncic plays, but have struggled in the games he has missed. Doncic is out with an ankle injury and is on COVID-19 protocols, which takes the shine off this game a bit.

On the other side, Utah isn’t far behind the Warriors and Suns at the top of the Western Conference. Donovan Mitchell is averaging more than 25 points per game and Mike Conley is putting up career numbers from 3-point range. The Jazz are the highest-scoring team in the NBA, coming in at 115.8 points per game. The Mavs are on the other end of the spectrum, at 27th.

(Photo of Steph Curry: Tim Nwachukwu / Getty Images; The Athletic may receive an affiliate commission if you open an account with BetMGM through links contained in the above article.)

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