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  • David Troy

NBA Christmas Plays from FuturePrez

Updated: Dec 24, 2023

The NBA season has been a successful one to this point with a solid return from the daily plays and some monstrous hits on BTB's contribution of parlays. Many people consider today to be the point where people start to really start paying attention to the NBA. If you haven't, here is what you might have missed to this point: LeBron and the Lakers won something called the In-Season Tournament. It means nothing, but it did seem like players cared about the games a bit more, which was part of the purpose. There haven't been as many random nights off for players which helps make the games a little more predictable. Giannis and Damian Lillard are just now starting to figure it out in Milwaukee. The Bulls are playing better without Zach Lavine. The Pacers are one of the most fun teams to watch because they play essentially no defense and Tyrese Haliburton is a legitimate superstar. Jalen Brunson has been the focus of conversation, mostly based on if he can actually lead a team to a championship. Boston looks amazing once again, and Joel Embiid is playing better than last season when he won an MVP. Over in the West, the Clippers traded for James Harden and are starting to look as scary as everyone thought they would be three years ago. Luka continues to dominate and be the only reason the Mavs win games. The Nuggets are playing good basketball, but look a little hungover from the championship last season. Draymond Green has been suspended twice this season, the current length indefinite, and we've only played about 25 games. The Warriors are once again struggling to find a rhythm. The Minnesota Timberwolves are playing inspired basketball most nights and have one of the best young stars in the game, Anthony Edwards, along with a great defense. That about catches you up, so let's get to why you're really here: NBA Free Plays!

Bucks vs. Knicks

I said on a podcast the other day, that if the Bucks lost to the Knicks on the 23rd, I would take them on Christmas. Well, they beat the Knicks by almost 20 points. The Bucks are a better team than the Knicks, but a lot of times in these same team back-to-back games, there ends up being a split. If I'm picking a coach to make a defensive adjustment that helps, it will be the Knicks head coach, Tom Thibodeau. It has taken a little longer for him to warm up than I expected, but Damian Lillard is finally shooting the ball well. This is his second time playing on Christmas. In the first game, he was 9-21 from the field and finished with just 20 points as his team was blown out. Things have changed, obviously, and his team is significantly better. He has played New York three times this season and has scored 30, 28, and 19 in the last contest. Giannis is playing in his sixth straight Christmas Day game. Last year he was blown out in Boston as the Bucks lost by 21. He poured in 27. The Bucks are 3-2 so far on Christmas with Giannis and he has had a mixed bag of results. I kind of lean toward him scoring under 32.5 points in the game. Even without Mitchell Robinson to be the primary defender on him, he doesn't typically explode on Christmas or against the Knicks. Overall, I think this game also probably goes under. The first Christmas Day game the Bucks played with Giannis was against the Knicks in New York. It was a low scoring game that the Bucks won. Overall, I have no official play, but do lean toward Giannis under 32.5 points and the game to go under 240.5.

Warriors vs. Nuggets

Official Play: Nuggets -6.5 -110 (1u)

This is a terrible spot for the Warriors. It isn't a great spot for the Nuggets, but this is a bad spot for the Warriors. They've been playing in California for four of their past five games. They've had two back-to-back games in this situation, and this will be their third game in four days. In addition, this is a strange travel situation where they had three home games, go on the road for one game, and then head back home for seven straight. To make matters worse, this game starts at 2:30 ET. I imagine the Warriors are celebrating Christmas with their families today, Christmas Eve. Then head to Denver tonight. A 2:30 ET game for the Warriors is a body clock tip-off of 11:30 AM. There is no change their normal routines will be in effect. To a certain extent, the Nuggets have to deal with the same thing, but they were just on an East Coast trip and have the luxury of coming home. They are also 11-2 at home. The Warriors played them well earlier in the season, but I don't see it happening here. Given all the reasons I mentioned, I also think this is an under as well, but that is just a lean.

Celtics vs. Lakers

This is a bit harder of a game to call. The Celtics are easily the better team, and they've been in Los Angeles for days. I'm guessing they won't head home to be with family and then come back. I think their families would meet them in LA or something. But, either way, I don't think they are traveling. The Lakers are coming home from a road trip. Overall, they are just 16-14, but they are 10-3 at home. The Celtics are 22-6, but all six losses have come on the road, and they are just two games above .500 on the road. This is their last game before they go home. I think they will play hard because it is a national game and on Christmas, but this usually isn't a great spot for a team. I think this one is probably going to go over the total. LeBron will likely play his best. I don't think the Celtics have a great option for neutralizing Anthony Davis. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum should both play in this game, and Tatum put up 30 last game after injuring his ankle and missing a game against the Kings. I lean toward the over, and the Lakers in this one.

76ers vs. Heat

Official Play: 76ers ML -120 (1u) UPDATE: Embiid is out. Check notes at bottom.

From West Coast, we head back to the East Coast. Joel Embiid is playing great this season and Tyrese Maxey has exploded this season. The 76ers are 20-8 and 8-4 away from home. They also have been resting since the 22nd after they beat the Raptors (to be fair, the Heat have been as well, and won't have to travel for this game). Jimmy Butler is likely to play after missing a few games, but if he is out, I don't think I'd add any additional units. The Heat have a way of winning games no matter who they throw on the floor. They also do a very good job against Embiid defensively. For his career, Embiid has averaged just 23.6 points per game against Miami and hasn't scored over 30 points in six of his last seven games against them. I like his rebound prop in this at 11.5. He's averaging 11.7 per game now and has gone over this total in six of his last nine games. He also hits this slightly more than 50% of the time on the season and in four of the past five against the Heat. No reason to double down on this game, but if you're looking for a prop. It is one I like. He is averaging 40 points per game this month, but I also lean toward the under on his points. I already mentioned his stats against them, but the Heat also are the best defense against centers in the NBA in terms of points allowed. Play that at your own risk though, Embiid is not the average NBA center. So why the 76ers if Embiid might not have a great game? Well, he impacts it in many other ways. I think Tyrese Maxey is going to kill anyone that guards him in this one unless it is Jimmy Butler. I don't really like taking road favorites, but in a coinflip line, I'll take the better team and that is the 76ers. Just so you're aware, Embiid is also 7-10 against the Heat in his career so it might not be an ideal game to tail, but I like it. If there is a first half moneyline of the Heat and full game of the 76ers, that is worth a sprinkle.

Mavs vs. Suns

I've written a lot already, and you've been dogging your family for long enough, so I'll try to keep this one a bit short. I don't think Derek Lively plays, so I'll probably take the Suns. He's a good interior presence and while the Suns take a lot of mid range shots, Lively not being their for rebounds should bode well for Phoenix. In addition, my guess is that Kyrie Irving will still be out. I like the Suns -5 if both are out. If they are both in, the Mavs could win, but I just won't play it. Why? Luka owns the Suns and he gets into Devin Booker's head, but this is the travel from the Mavs since the 16th: Portland, Denver, Dallas, Houston, Dallas, and Phoenix. Six different trips in 9 days and this is their fourth game in six days. It just isn't ideal for them. Then again, Luka is Luka and isn't ideal for anyone to have to deal with. To be fair, the Suns also kind of suck and have dealt with injuries all year. They just lost games to the Trail Blazers and Kings and have lost eight of their past 11 games. Starting center, Jusuf Nurkic, should be back for this game. The Suns, since November 29th, have lost two games and then won one. They just lost two games, maybe they are ready to win one. The Suns and Bucks as a ML parlay might be the right approach because even the Suns wins have been close games. Don't do anything until you find out the lineups. If the line goes more than -5.5 I'll probably sit the game out.

Here are the official plays:

Nuggets -6.5

76ers ML -120 --- UPDATE: Embiid has been ruled out since this article was written. If you didn't bet it, don't. If you did, you can bet the Heat and just lose the juice, but you can let it ride.

Leans (feel free to sprinkle or play how you'd like):

Under 240.5 in Bucks/Knicks

Giannis under 32.5 points

Under 233.5 in Warriors/Nuggets

Over 234.5 in Celtics/Lakers

Embiid under 32.5 points

Embiid over 11.5 rebounds

Suns -5

For Fun Parlays:

Bucks/Suns ML +145

Heat halftime ML/76ers full game ML (unavailable currently)

Bucks ML/Nuggets -6.5/Over BOSvLAL/76ers ML/Suns ML +1513

I hope you all have a safe and Merry Christmas, and remember, just because these are free doesn't mean they are a guaranteed winner or you have to bet them. Enjoy your day!

- David

For NBA news, free plays, and general sports betting information, follow David at @futureprez2024

Follow the entire BTB team - @BeatinTheBookie and @BTBJesse


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