Golden State Warriors guard Gary Payton II
Golden State Warriors guard Gary Payton II (0) defends Phoenix Suns guard Cameron Payne (15) during an NBA basketball game in San Francisco, Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)


Patrick Werkmeister

Finally, this NBA season has arrived at the most action-packed day of the season, Christmas Day. While most teams will not be playing in this slate, these games are the most competitive that feature the top teams around the league. With strong competition in both the Eastern and Western conference, there isn’t a clear favorite for the title, so it’s still pretty much anyone’s shot. However, there are only a select amount of teams that you can bank on getting a W night in and night out. With all of this in mind, here is what I love for these holiday hoops.   

Hawks @ Knicks (-7)
From the iconic Madison Square Garden, Julius Randle and the New York Knicks host Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks. However, Atlanta will be without their star point guard and many other starting and role players. The difference in available personnel between these two squads is reflected by this relatively large 7 point spread in the Knicks favor. Last game out, the Hawks were able to squeak by the Philadelphia 76ers by two whereas New York lost at home against the Washington Wizards, 124-117.  Currently, New York and Atlanta are near the bottom of the Eastern Conference with records of 14-18 and 15-16, respectively. However, they both had similar starts to the season last year and it’s too early in the season for any team to panic. Although the Knicks are 1-6 ATS in their last seven games at home, Atlanta has struggled mightily where they are 2-6 ATS in their previous eight matches. Atlanta will be running on fumes with very few offensive threats whereas the Knicks are fully healthy and need this victory. While they have good young pieces on their roster, the Hawks look vastly different without their star floor general. Take the Knicks to cover at home and handle this depleted Hawks team.  

Warriors @ Suns (-6.5)
For this Western Conference matchup, Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors travel to the desert to face off against Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns. With the best record in the NBA at 26-5, Phoenix comes into the match as six and a half-point home favorites. While the Suns are an efficient 4-1 ATS in their past five contests, Golden State is 9-5 SU in their last 14 as an underdog. Following their 20 point demolition over the LA Lakers on Tuesday, the Suns look like they haven’t missed a beat from their championship run in 2021. The backcourt tandem of Booker and CP3 looked as strong as ever, with Paul’s 11 assists and Booker putting up 24 points in the W. Although they lost the first meeting of the year vs the Warriors, Golden State will be without their breakout shooting guard, Jordan Poole. Losses should be few and far between since the Suns are extremely well coached by their third year man, Monty Williams. While Steph is arguably the league’s best player, they will be out manned against this fully healthy Suns team. Take Phoenix minus the points against the Warriors.  

Nets @ Lakers (+1)
In this interconference matchup, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers take on James Harden and the Brooklyn Nets. According to oddsmakers, this is somewhat of an evenly matched game, without the Nets superstar Kevin Durant, and they are just one point road favorites. While LA is a shoddy 2-6 ATS in their last eight played at home, Brooklyn is 8-1 SU in their past nine road games. Nonetheless, the Lakers have had a less than ideal start to the season with their record at 16-17. However, the Nets are coming off an ugly loss to the worst team in the league, the Orlando Magic. Although they will have their superstar James Harden back, last game’s loss was quite alarming given that was Orlando’s 7th win in 33 tries. Brooklyn will be tested against this fully healthy LA team. I like the Lakers to bounce back and cover in this one at home.

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