Over Under 2/2 – Oklahoma City Thunder/Houston Rockets
Historically, Christmas games have hit the under significantly more often than they hit the over, which is a major concern in this play. With that being said, these numbers are simply too low for stars in a primetime game. James Harden has seen his usage rating skyrocket without Chris Paul on the court, and he has been scoring at an elite level recently. He has scored 32+ points in six consecutive games. In those games, he’s averaging 39.7 points per game. He struggled in his first matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder, but he’ll see more scoring opportunities in this matchup. Paul George has been an elite scorer for the Thunder, and he has scored 25+ points in eight of his last 10 games. Over that span, he’s averaging 32.8 points per game. Similarly to Harden, George struggled in his first matchup against the Houston Rockets, but he has been playing far too well, while taking too many shots for the total to be set at only 24.5 points in this type of game.
Play $50 on James Harden OVER 31.5 points and Paul George OVER 24.5 points to win $123.50 (2.47x)
Scoring Champ – Oklahoma City Thunder/Houston Rockets
I’m simply doubling up on my play above, while potentially adding a bit more safety here. James Harden and Paul George have been two of the best scorers in the NBA recently, as they are averaging 39.7 and 34.3 points per game over the last 10 days, respectively. That combines for 74 points, leaving Russell Westbrook to need only 10 points. While Westbrook hasn’t been a scorer recently, he’s averaging 20.2 points per game on the season. Furthermore, he’s the most likely candidate to take over the offense if George struggles, somewhat allowing me to hedge my above play. These offenses are very top heavy, and WeStbrook’s recent scoring troubles are somewhat worrisome, but this total is set entirely too low for how well two of these players – Harden, George – have been playing.
Play $50 on James Harden, Paul George, and Russell Westbrook OVER 83.5 points to win $100 (2x)
Over Under 5/5 – Portland Blazers/Utah Jazz
As mentioned above, NBA games on Christmas have historically hit the under at a significantly high rate than the over. This game is set at only 214.5 points, and the Portland Blazers and Utah Jazz haven’t been two teams that have pushed the pace this season. Damian Lillard has been playing well recently, and he is averaging a healthy 29.3 points per game on the road. With that being said, he scored only 19 points against Utah in their only matchup this season, and I expect him to struggle again tonight. Donovan Mitchell is another player that has featured plenty of ups and downs this season, and I’m sticking with a potential defensive game here, limiting Mitchell, similarly to their first matchup. Rudy Gobert has recorded double-digit rebounds in each of his last seven games, and he’s averaging 11.1 rebounds per game at home this season. Gobert could see a few extra rebound opportunities if this game plays out as we expect, leaving him to hit the over. Joe Ingles was arguably the most difficult player to project here, but similarly to Lillard and Mitchell, I’m expecting more of a defensive battle, leaving Ingles to fall under 2.5 three pointers made, as he has only attempted more than six three pointers in two of his last 10 games. Rubio hitting over 6.5 assists is difficult to project with everyone else hitting under, but he has totaled 32 assists in his last three games, while averaging 8.6 assists per game at home this season. His total is too low, even if we expect a more defensive game.
Play $20 on Damian Lillard UNDER 26.5 points, Donovan Mitchell UNDER 20.5 points, Rudy Gobert OVER 10.5 points, Joe Ingles UNDER 2.5 three pointers made, and Ricky Rubio OVER 6.5 assists to win $400 (20x)