Bet on NBA Christmas Day Games Online
Christmas Day games in the National Basketball Association (NBA) have been an annual tradition since 1947-48, with five NBA games played on Christmas Day each of the last 14 years.
Unlike the NFL approach on Thanksgiving, with home team anchor hosts (i.e. Detroit and Dallas), the NBA sets the Christmas day matchups prior to the start of each season and picks teams and players that draw the most interest. 2021 is no exception, with a who’s who of the NBA here and now— LeBron and AD, Giannis and Jrue, CP3 and Book, Steph and Klay, KD and the Beard, Donovan, and Luka—set to suit up.
Of most relevance to NBA fans in PA, of course, is the Philadelphia 76ers, but with all the turmoil surrounding the Sixers offseason they’ll sit out this season’s Xmas day lineup. Here’s a look at how to bet on NBA Christmas Day games in PA, plus some expert advice on what to pay attention to.
2021 NBA Christmas Day schedule
- 12 pm ET: Hawks @ Knicks
- 2:30 pm ET: Celtics @ Bucks
- 5 pm ET: Warriors @ Suns
- 8 pm ET: Nets @ Lakers
- 10:30 pm ET: Mavericks @ Jazz
The Hawks/Knicks opener represents Atlanta’s first Christmas Day appearance since 1989. It’s also a rematch of an unforgettable first-round matchup in the NBA Playoffs last season featuring rising stars Trae Young and Julius Randle – should Covid protocols allow them to hit the court.
Next up is Giannis Antetokounmpo and the defending NBA Champions against Boston Celtics stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. This is a possible Eastern Conference Finals matchup as both are considered top contenders in the East alongside Brooklyn. Antetokounmpo, however, has to make it out of protocols to play.
In the middle game, Golden State Warriors superstar Steph Curry will match up against Devin Booker, Chris Paul, and the defending Western Conference Champion Phoenix Suns. Together, these two teams represent six of the past seven Western Conference Champions.
The primetime tilt sees the Los Angeles Lakers big three (minus AD) take on the Brooklyn Nets big three (minus 2). This was the marquee matchup of the day, and a possible NBA Finals preview, but won’t see either team at their best.
Another pair of upstart stars were prepared to match up in the nightcap with Luka Doncic and the Mavs taking on Donovan Mitchell and the Utah Jazz. Mitchell helped Utah post the best regular-season record in the West last season and is putting up fantastic numbers again this year.
Doncic has proven in the past two NBA Playoffs that he’s got the makings of NBA MVP, but unfortunately has just been put into the NBA’s Health & Safety protocols along with much of the Mavs team.
Early NBA Christmas Day lines & odds
Here’s a look at the early Christmas Day NBA game lines. These are currently posted odds from PA online sportsbooks. Click on a line to jump right to the sportsbook that posted it, sign up, claim your bonus and lock in your bet.
Game #1: Hawks-Knicks Spread, Moneyline, Totals
Time: 12 p.m.
Arena: Madison Square Garden (New York)
Christmas Day records: Atlanta 9-11, New York 22-31
Last appearance on Christmas Day: Hawks (1989, W vs Cavs), Knicks (2018, L vs Bucks)
News and notes
- The last time the Hawks played on Christmas was in 1989, nine years before Trae Young was born
- The Knicks and Hawks were the 4/5 matchup in the first round of the 2020/21 Eastern Conference NBA Playoffs and the Hawks upset the Knicks in five games to advance to the Eastern Conference semifinals for the first time since 2016
- Last season, the Knicks made the NBA Playoffs for the first time since 2013 and the Hawks made it for the first time since 2017
Game #2: Celtics-Bucks Spread, Moneyline, Totals
Time: 2:30 p.m.
Arena: Fiserv Forum, Milwaukee
Christmas Day records: Boston 15-19, Milwaukee 4-3
Last appearance on Christmas Day: Celtics (2020, L vs Nets), Bucks (2020, W vs Warriors)
News and notes
- The Bucks won the 2020/21 NBA Finals, Milwaukee’s first title since 1971
- The Celtics have a new coach in Ime Udoka, Tristan Thompson is gone while bigs Al Horford and Enes Kanter have returned, and guards Josh Richardson and Dennis Schroder replace Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier
- The only major contributors not returning for the Bucks Championship team are PJ Tucker and Bryn Forbes
Game #3: Warriors-Suns Spread, Moneyline, Totals
Time: 5 p.m.
Arena: Footprint Center (Phoenix)
Christmas Day Records: Golden State 13-17, Phoenix 12-6
Last Appearance on Christmas Day: Warriors (2020, L vs Bucks), Phoenix (2009, W vs Clippers)
News and notes
- The Suns went up 2-0 in the 2020/21 NBA Finals before losing four straight and the title to Milwaukee
- Golden State Warriors All Star Klay Thompson is expected to be in the lineup after missing the past two full seasons due to injury
- The Suns only lost Jevon Carter and Torrey Craig from the 2020/21 Western Conference Champion roster, plus they added JaVale McGee, Elfrid Payton, and Landry Shamet
Game #4: Nets-Lakers Spread, Moneyline, Totals
Time: 8 p.m.
Arena: Staples Center, Los Angeles
Christmas Day Records: Brooklyn 5-5, LAL 24-23
Last Appearance on Christmas Day: Nets (2020, W vs Celtics), LAL (2020, W vs Mavericks)
News and notes
- The Nets took the Bucks to seven games in the 2020/21 Eastern Conference Finals before losing in OT in Game 7
- The Lakers won the 2019/20 NBA Finals in the bubble, but couldn’t get out of the first round of the 2020/21 NBA Playoffs partly due to an injury to Anthony Davis
- LeBron James has appeared in 15 Xmas Day games and sits second on the all-time Christmas Day scoring list. Kobe Bryant is first with 395 points in 16 games, just 12 ahead of James heading into this Christmas.
Game #5: Mavericks-Jazz Spread, Moneyline, Totals
Time: 10:30 p.m.
Arena: Vivint Arena (Salt Lake City)
Christmas Day records: Dallas 2-2, Utah 5-2
Last appearance on Christmas Day: Mavs (2020, L vs Lakers), Jazz (2018, W vs Blazers)
News and notes
- The Mavs and the Jazz both lost to the LA Clippers in the 2020/21 NBA Playoffs as it was LA over Dallas in seven in the first round and LA over Utah in six games in the Western Conference Semis
- The Jazz were the top seed in the 2020/21 Western Conference Playoffs and Center Rudy Gobert won 2021 Defensive Player of the Year, his third DPOY award
- Mavs superstar Luka Doncic signed a five-year and $207.06 million contract extension with Dallas ahead of the 2021/22 season
Best apps to bet NBA Christmas Day games
1. DraftKings Sportsbook offers alternate spreads, alternate totals, and in-game wagers on NBA games. There are also game parlays (spread or moneyline with totals) team props (total points by home team, over/under total points by home team), and player props (over/under points, assists, 3-pointers, etc).
What makes DraftKings unique for the NBA is the vast number of futures wagers to consider from team futures (win totals, “yes/no” to make playoffs, win conference/championship) and player futures (MVP, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of Year, and Most Improved Player).
2. FanDuel Sportsbook has a wide array of player, team and NBA game props as well as in game live betting. What makes FD unique is their “same game parlay” that allows you to combine point spreads, moneylines, half, and quarter winners with selected player props and totals into a single wager.
FanDuel also has several futures for consideration including division, conference and Championship winners as well as player futures for NBA MVP, 6th Man, and Defensive Player of the Year.
3. FOX Bet has alternate totals, spreads, and in game live betting. What makes FOX Bet unique is their “#CustomBet” feature that offers a series of player and team props that are unique to each specific NBA game.
Fox Bet also offers futures bets for conference finals and NBA finals. Note that you must opt-in to claim your risk-free bet within 7 days of registration, and place your first bet within a week!
3 NBA Christmas betting tips
1. Trust the home teams on Christmas Day
Over the past five seasons, home teams have the edge both straight-up and against the spread on Xmas:
- Home teams straight-up: 15-10
- Home Teams ATS: 15-10
2. The under has dominated
In the past five seasons, the game total has gone under in 15 of the 25 games.
3. Consider each team’s travel schedule leading to their Christmas Day games
A lot of what goes in to handicapping NBA games is understanding each team’s travel schedule. Christmas Day is no exception. While teams are just starting their seasons, take into account who had to travel the furthest.
How to stream NBA Christmas Day games
Thankfully for NBA fans, all five Christmas Day games will have national coverage and there’s no overlap in the game schedule (all times are in Eastern Time):
- 12 pm ET: Hawks @ Knicks (ESPN)
- 2:30 pm ET: Celtics @ Bucks (ABC)
- 5 pm ET: Warriors @ Suns (ABC)
- 8 pm ET: Nets @ Lakers ((ABC/ESPN)
- 10:30 pm ET: Mavericks @ Jazz (ESPN)
All these games will also be available for streaming via the ESPN app, NBA League Pass and of course, will be shown at all PA sportsbooks.
Brief history of NBA Christmas Day games
The NBA has played games on Christmas Day since 1947. That makes this year the 74th edition of the NBA on Christmas Day. Christmas Day is truly the NBA’s day to shine as they enjoy an exclusive position with no other NFL or NHL games scheduled.
No wonder that, in recent years, the NBA has heavily marketed the Christmas games as the “unofficial” start of the NBA season:
The NBA has used Christmas also to market the individual team brands. From 2012-16, NBA and Adidas produced special uniforms for the Christmas games. All these uniforms feature a theme, such as monochromatic designs (“Big Color”) and chrome-treated logos
Since Nike took over the uniforms in 2017, there has been less emphasis on Christmas themes. Instead, NBA teams playing on that day wore either “City” or “Statement” alternate uniforms. During the 2018–19 season, a few teams wore a fifth alternate known as “Earned” uniforms; these were given as a reward for making the 2018 NBA playoffs.
Here’s an NBA promo spot that promotes the games as well as the gear:
Several players have both played and coached on Christmas Day, most notably current Sixers coach Doc Rivers, who played with the Knicks, and Phil Jackson, also a Knicks player and legendary Bulls/Lakers coach
Christmas Day memorable moments
Some great historical Christmas Day moments include Bernard King scoring 60 points for the New York Knicks in 1984 and Patrick Ewing leading the Knicks back from a 25-point deficit to defeat the Celtics in 1985.
As a result of a lockout in 2011, Christmas Day was also the NBA season opener. To celebrate the return of the games NBA and TNT produced this incredible promo spot, which is still worthwhile viewing almost eight years later.
Plus, here’s the ‘Best NBA Christmas Day Plays of the Decade’ video from the NBA in 2019:
NBA Christmas FAQ
There are now 5 games on the schedule every year. This will mark the 14th straight year five games will be played.
The Knicks Bernard King scored 60 points in 1984. Zion Williamson was the top scorer on Xmas Day in 2020 with 32 points.
The Knicks have played 53 games (22-31) on Christmas Day. This year will mark game 54 for NY.
The Lakers have 24 Christmas day wins after another win in 2020. They’ll have a chance to make it 25 this year.
Kobe Bryant has played in 16 Christmas Day Games. LeBron James will match that this year as long as he plays for the Lakers.
The first-ever NBA Christmas Day game was played back in 1947. The Providence Steamrollers played in New York agains the Knicks. The first nationally broadcast NBA Christmas Day game was in 1967 when ABC broadcast a Lakers-San Diego Rockets game.
Every team has played at least once on Christmas Day. Teams with the fewest appearances:
- Toronto: 0-2
- Minnesota: 1-1
- New Orleans: 1-2
- Dallas 2-1
The NBA sets the Christmas Day schedule before the start of the season and tries to focus on the best teams, matchups and feature as many of the league’s best players as possible. The size of the broadcast market is also relevant, obviously, as New York, Chicago and Los Angeles are typically featured Christmas Day teams.
The NBA store at NBA.com will carry all of the Christmas Day wearables every year.