NBA Christmas Predictions & Picks

Pat Pickens
Last Updated: Dec 22, 2023

The NBA on Christmas is as American an institution as there is, and as usual, the 2023 slate of games should be exceptional.

The five-game schedule features the past four NBA champions, including the 2023 In-Season Tournament champion Lakers. It also includes some of the sport’s biggest stars, with six of the past eight NBA MVPs suiting up on the holiday.

Here’s a look at our best predictions for the 2023 NBA slate.

NBA Christmas Predictions

All NBA betting odds used for these Christmas predictions are current as of Thursday, Dec. 21, and courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.

Bucks vs Knicks Prediction

Best Bet: Bucks -3.5 (-110)

The Knicks are 1-5 in their past six games on Christmas and haven’t been within three points in any of them.

For all its early worts, Milwaukee has been superb over the past month, winning 15 of 18. Plus, the Bucks have already dominated the Knicks with a pair of victories against them this season.

Two-time MVP forward Giannis Antetokounmpo has scored 28.5 points per game, and guard Damian Lillard has put up 29 per game against the Knicks.

Warriors vs Nuggets Prediction

Best Bet: Nuggets -5.5 (-110)

There has been no championship hangover for the Nuggets, who are again running roughshod over the NBA, led by two-time MVP Nikola Jokić.

Jokić is averaging nearly a triple-double per game, and Denver lost just two of its first 13 home games to start the season with a 13.3-point average margin of victory.

One of those wins was a three-point victory over Golden State on Nov. 8. But the Nuggets shouldn’t have trouble covering this 5.5-point spread against the Warriors, who have been in disarray for much of the season.

Celtics vs Lakers Prediction

Best Bet: Lakers Moneyline (+105)

The Celtics have been dominant at home but won only seven of their first 13 games away from TD Garden.

The Lakers boast a 10-3 record at Arena and have won three of their past four at home.

The fact that the reigning In-Season Tournament champs are underdogs at home against Boston is well worth the plus-money value, especially since the Celtics will be closing a long West Coast road trip on Christmas Day.

76ers vs Heat Prediction

Best Bet: 76ers Moneyline (+105)

Reigning MVP Joel Embiid has played like the NBA’s most valuable player again so far this season. He’s running away with the scoring title and is top five in rebounds and top 25 in the league in assists per game.

Philadelphia has shown no ill effects of dealing 2019 MVP James Harden to the Clippers. The Sixers won eight of their first 12 road games and are within range of the top seed in the East.

The reigning Eastern Conference champion Heat have once again middled, especially at home. After reaching the Finals as the No. 7 seed in the East last spring, Miami again sits in danger of the NBA Play-In Tournament after going through a 3-5 home stretch.

Mavericks vs Suns Prediction

Best Bet: Mavericks +4 (-110)

Despite a superstar-laden roster, the Suns have had a wildly uneven start. Phoenix will enter play on Christmas with about a .500 record and will not have guard Bradley Beal (ankle) for its holiday showdown against the Dallas Mavericks.

Dallas, which fell short of the Western Conference Play-In Tournament last season, is off to a great start in 2023-24. The Mavs won nine of their first 14 road games, and star guard Luka Dončić is averaging almost a triple-double per game.

I think Dallas will win outright. But taking the Mavs to cover as four-point underdogs is a solid hedge in case Kevin Durant wills Phoenix to a narrow victory.


Pat Pickens

Pat Pickens is a seasoned sportswriter who has covered the NHL since 2013 for various websites, including The New York Times,,, USA Today, the Associated Press and many others. His debut book, titled "The Whalers" about the history of the NHL's Hartford Whalers, was released in October 2021.

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