It’s hard to believe that the 2020-21 NBA regular season is about to tip-off. The long, winding, COVID-19 delayed 2019-20 season ended on October 11th when the Los Angeles Lakers won the championship in the Orlando bubble.
NBA Christmas Day
Now the teams are back in action just over two months later. The preseason has already gotten underway and the NJ sports betting oddsmakers have already posted betting lines on the Christmas Day games next week. Let’s take a closer look at the quintuplet of games and the odds for the five matchups.
New Orleans Pelicans at Miami Heat
Two teams with incredibly talented young rosters will start off the Christmas Day festivities.
The Heat surprised a lot of people last season by fighting their way through the Eastern Conference and representing them in the NBA Finals. While they fell short to the Los Angeles Lakers, they really gutted out some great efforts.
Jimmy Butler led the team but a lot of young players like Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson were huge contributors. Meanwhile, Bam Adebayo gives this team another All-Star to support the cast.
As for the Pelicans, they’re a team on the rise in the West. Zion Williamson has already proven himself to be a stud and the team looks like they have a great one-two punch with him and Brandon Ingram.
They also added center Steven Adams in the offseason as well as Eric Bledsoe. We’ll see how they handle the Heat and their stingy defense in this contest.
Golden State Warriors at Milwaukee Bucks
There was a time when a regular season matchup between the Golden State Warriors and Milwaukee Bucks would be a contest between the top two teams in each conference. While the Warriors eventually went on to win multiple titles, the Bucks are still trying to get over their playoff shortcomings.
This Christmas Day matchup will lose some of its luster because Klay Thompson is out for the season for the Warriors. They should still be a good team with the likes of Steph Curry, Andrew Wiggins, Draymond Green and rookie James Wiseman, but it’s obviously tough to overcome losing one of the Splash Brothers.
As for the Bucks, this will be an early test for them to see how their new roster measures up. They locked up Giannis Antetokounmpo to a supermax extension and acquired Jrue Holiday in the offseason. Is that enough to get this team over the playoff hump finally?
Brooklyn Nets at Boston Celtics
This matchup will be must-see TV. Not only do we have the return of Kevin Durant, who missed all of last season with a torn Achilles, but we’ll also have the return of Kyrie Irving, who wasn’t able to finish the season too.
The Nets were one of the most impressive teams in the bubble (even though they didn’t make the playoffs), so we’ll have to see if that carries over.
Beyond all of that, this game marks the return of Kyrie Irving to Boston, a team he left on bad terms. Irving has drawn early headlines for not talking to the media (and then changing his mind).
We’ll get a good look at hoe Irving and Durant mesh in this one in a tough test against a quality opponent. The Celtics have an incredible young roster but will have to move forward after losing Gordon Hayward in the offseason.
Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Lakers
Odds: Lakers -7
The Los Angeles Lakers will be one of the biggest draws on Christmas Day. Of course, LeBron James is the leagues prime superstar and the Lakers are the defending champs. If fans were allowed to attend, this would be a star-studded affair.
Speaking of star-studded affairs, that’s what we’ll see on the court. The Lakers retooled their roster in the offseason and might be even better than last year. Additions like Dennis Schroder and Montrezl Harrell give them much needed depth that they didn’t have.
Meanwhile, the Dallas Mavericks are a team on the rise. Luka Doncic was playing like an MVP last season before the pandemic hit. With Kristaps Porzingis, this team has a very good duo that can compete with almost anyone. The question is who else is there for support? We’ll see if new addition Josh Richardson can help give this team some much-needed balance.
Los Angeles Clippers at Denver Nuggets
Odds: Clippers -1
The Clippers are returning to the scene of the crime in this one. Their performance was downright criminal in the Western Conference semifinals last season when the blew a 3-1 series lead to the Nuggets.
That led to all sorts of offseason changes, including the firing of head coach Doc Rivers. Now Ty Lue is in charge and this will be one of the early tests to see if this Clippers team is any different.
The Nuggets deserve a lot of credit for their comeback last season and might be getting disrespected with this betting line. We’ll see if Jamal Murray carries over his performance from the bubble where he performed like an MVP.
Also, all eyes will be on Michael Porter Jr. If he’s developing as expected, the Nuggets might go from a Big Two to a Big Three, and be a serious contender for the championship.