NBA Boxing Day betting treat
Boxing Day NBA wagering gifts
By Dan Favale
While both the Memphis Grizzlies and Orlando Magic are kind of unpredictable, the Magic are clearly the inferior squad.
Both teams can lock down on defense for long stretches at a time, but the Grizzlies are far more consistent. They rank first in points allowed per 100 possessions, and though they are strained for floor spacing, they have the Magic beat at point guard, with Mike Conley healthy and back in the lineup.
Like the Grizzlies, the Magic have an anemic offense. They have had their moments, when they top 100 points with ease, but playing Aaron Gordon out of position while using three centers to cover the 4 and 5 spots is, by and large, a train wreck.
What’s more, the Magic’s strength isn’t even a given. Their defensive standing has fluctuated by the week this season, so it’s tough to imagine them keeping pace with a Grizzlies squad that is, if nothing else, continuously dominant inside its craft.
The Pick: Memphis Grizzlies (-3)
It’s not necessarily weird that the Washington Wizards are favored to win this game. They have been much better over the last two weeks or so. They also had Christmas Day off and are playing at home.
But the Milwaukee Bucks are the better team. The standings won’t always show it, but the advanced metrics will.
The Bucks have spent much of this season hovering around the top 12 of both offensive and defensive efficiency. That’s a really big deal. And while it hasn’t translated to a winning record, they appear to be right on the cusp of something.
Besides, even artificial balance poses a bad matchup for the Wizards. The offense has been okay, but the defense is a horror show—particularly when you get to their second unit.
To be honest, this doesn’t even feel like a game the Wizards will win. So you should most definitely funnel your action toward the Bucks.
The Pick: Milwaukee Bucks (+4)
After suffering a Christmas Day shellacking at the hands of the San Antonio Spurs, the Chicago Bulls will look to rebound against the wildly disappointing Indiana Pacers.
But while the Bulls have far more talent on paper, this isn’t a game they are guaranteed to win.
Yesterday’s beatdown wasn’t the good kind. Head coach Fred Hoiberg couldn’t pull his starters especially early. It helps that the Bulls didn’t need to travel overnight, but the second half of a back-to-back is dangerous territory for a team that relies on plenty of graying veterans—namely Dwyane Wade.
The Pacers, on the flip side, aren’t very good. But they have shown they can be scrappy on the defensive end. Given the Bulls’ struggles on the offensive end, this should be a low-scoring affair—and such a brand of basketball, on this night, favors the Pacers.
The Pick: Indiana Pacers (+2)
Get on this game whilst you can. The line is going to move, perhaps even starkly, with news that Damian Lillard isn’t expected to suit up for the Portland Trail Blazers.
Evan Turner is questionable for the Blazers as well, but where his absence could rank as addition by substraction, Portland’s offense figures to enter a free fall without Lillard. C.J. McCollum has seldom needed to carry the starters on his own, and some of the Blazers’ most valuable players aren’t shooting to well from beyond the arc, which will make it difficult for McCollum to attack the basket.
On top of that, the Toronto Raptors are on course to register one of the best offenses in NBA history. They should be able to feast on Portland’s league’s worst defense.
The Pick: Toronto Raptors (+6)
Blake Griffin, J.J. Redick and Chris Paul are all expected to be out tonight when the Los Angeles Clippers play host to the Denver Nuggets.
This ranks as a must-win for the Nuggets as a result.
Relying more on Nikola Jokic at the 5 has looked go on them, and Emmanuel is in the middle of the best offensive stretch of his career. That typically wouldn’t be enough to overthrow the Clippers.
But when Los Angeles will be be without three of its four best players, Denver gets the upper hand.
The Pick: Denver Nuggets (-4)