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GAMBLING AGAINST GREATNESS: CHRISTMAS 2020

@TheWillBaldwin

What better way to celebrate Christmas than to bet some money on the NBA?

Pelicans vs Heat

Line: Miami -3.5

Pick: Heat -3.5

Game one for both of these teams was unexpected. For Miami, the Heat disappointed as road favourites against the Magic while the Pelicans upset the favoured Raptors. On Christmas, I see their roles reversed. The side to be on in this game is Miami. They’ve heard all offseason the bubble was a fluke so an 0-2 start hardly quells their critics, plus being at home on Christmas with some fans in the building for the first time makes me think they’ll be that much more motivated. The matchup to watch is how much Bam Adebayo guards Zion or if he just stays on Steven Adams throughout. Also expect a spirited forward battle between Brandon Ingram and Jimmy Butler. As good as Ingram and Zion looked Wednesday though, I expect the bubble kings to get back on track in a close, competitive game they pull away late in.

Warriors vs Bucks

Line: Mil -10.0

Pick: Bucks -10

So the Bucks have a ton of pressure coming into the season on them, disapointed game one against the Celtics and now find themselves at home at Christmas for the first time in 50 plus years? Also throw in the fact this team excels at blowing out teams they’re better than and Golden State has no one to guard Giannis at all and this one may get ugly early. The only saving grace for Golden State would be a classic Steph Curry game but with Jrue Holiday ready to guard him for the Bucks, that feels like a tough matchup to say the least. The Bucks get back on track in the win column and in their two year tradition of murdering teams they’re better than against the short handed Warriors.

Nets vs Celtics

Line: Brooklyn -3.0

Pick: Nets -3.0

I just do not know how you guard this Brooklyn team. A fully healthy Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving is one ridiculous thing but to have Caris LeVert coming off the bench to run the second unit is flat out unfair. Sure Joe Harris, Spencer Dinwiddie and others can’t really defend yet we seem to forget if they score 130 every night it won’t really matter. Although I like the Celtics a ton this year and Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown appear poised to be All-Star teammates, without Kemba Walker this team lacks the offensive punch to keep up with the Nets. Also of note is the fact this game means a ton more to Irving in his official return to Boston than the Celtics so I like the Nets to cover the 3 points and for Irving to go over whatever his over is for points for this game. He and Durant seem like they’re on a mission this season and the Celtics are just the next victims.

Mavericks vs Lakers

Line: Los Angeles -6.0

Pick: Lakers -6.0

Much like Miami, I don’t see the Lakers falling to 0-2. LeBron looked like he needed the preseason on night one but I think he understands as much as anyone the importance of not starting 0-2. The reality is the regular season may not matter as much as say the NFL however starting behind the eight ball in a conference as good as the west is also just as true. I expect a monstrous effort from LeBron and Anthony Davis against a team that really has no one to guard them. My only hesitation in not picking the Lakers is Dallas had a ton of Porzingis-less success against them last season and Luka is as special as they come. As great as he is though, this team still struggles to close games as evidenced by the Suns game and I just don’t see them blowing the Lakers out so even if they do keep it close throughout, don’t be surprised when the Lakers blow it open late and still cover the 6.

Clippers vs Nuggets

Line: Los Angeles -2.5

Pick: Clippers -2.5

Much like how opening night mattered more to the Clippers than the Lakers, I think this one also matters more to them than their opponent. I get Denver is a young team not wanting to start 0-2 but the Clippers and Paul George seem to quietly be on a revenge tour. George is fully healthy to start a season for the first time in years and even if Kawhi wasn’t at his best, it seems like we may just see the best of PG-13 this season. For the Nuggets, Jamal Murray sucked in game one and that’s a concern. Nikola Jokic and Michael Porter Jr were great though so there’s that. My guess is we see a Murray bounce back but a Clippers win to help start to silence some of their biggest detractors. This team’s offence is completely different this year with the ball movement and the triangle and I think it’s going to take some of their opponents some time to adjust to it early on this season. Give me another important Clipper win to open this new NBA season.

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