Perhaps the best day on the NBA calendar is Christmas. It gives us five straight nationally televised games without any competition from any other contests. It’s a great time to take stock of the state of the league, which makes the day after Christmas a great time for our latest power rankings.
If you’re looking for a little more insight into some of the best and worst teams in the league before placing a bet online, then read on.
Let’s check the latest NBA picks, stats, injury reports, and NBA predictions. We’ve plenty of NBA expert picks for you to consider.
1. Boston Celtics
They suffered three straight home losses – two to Orlando – last week, but have rebounded with two straight wins while getting that high-powered offense going again.
In a Christmas matchup with Milwaukee that essentially decided our top spot, the Celtics piled up 77 second-half points to overwhelm the Bucks. Milwaukee entered the holiday ranked second in the NBA in opponents’ field-goal percentage, but allowed Boston to shoot 59% from the floor.
The Celtics, who have been on pace to shatter NBA records in several offensive categories, had hit a little bit of a funk from long range even before the three-game slide, shooting 29% from the arc over a seven-game stretch prior to Christmas. They made 19 of 39 triples against the Bucks.
Boston is about as healthy as it has been all season, as big man Robert Williams III is back in the fold and contributing. They could be scary-good as he rounds into form. Each NBA betting expert seems to know this, giving the Celtics the best odds to win it all.
- +375 NBA Championship Odds
2. Brooklyn Nets
They’ve won eight in a row, including a lopsided victory over the Bucks on Friday, and they’re barely being challenged en route to what figures to be a collision course with the Celtics for the Eastern Conference crown.
Brooklyn’s average margin of victory in the eight-game run is about 10 points per game. It is getting great production from the two superstars in Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving and the squad is doing good things on both sides of the floor.
Evidence lies in the fact that the Nets scored a franchise-record 91 points in the first half of their recent win over Golden State before turning around and stifling Milwaukee on the defensive end in a 118-100 victory.
“That shows us a locked-in team right there,” Durant told reporters after the win over the Bucks.
- +1000 NBA Championship Odds
3. Denver Nuggets
The top record in the West belongs to the Nuggets after they outlasted Phoenix in an overtime thriller on Christmas. It capped a perfect 4-0 homestand and was Denver’s seventh win in the last eight games.
Nikola Jokic is rocketing up the MVP odds sheets amid a remarkable run. The two-time defending MVP had another triple-double Sunday – his third in the last six games – and is averaging 29.3 points, 12.3 rebounds and 9.9 assists in a 16-game stretch since returning from health & safety protocols in November.
It’s perhaps the best stretch of basketball in the career of perhaps the best player in the league. And it has Denver sitting as perhaps the best team in the West.
- +1400 NBA Championship Odds
4. Milwaukee Bucks
The Christmas loss was their third straight – all to teams on the Who’s Hot list – and it left the Bucks at 13-11 since their 9-0 start. The Las Vegas odds haven’t caught on to their long run of relative mediocrity, planting them just behind the Celtics on championship odds lists. But their hold on a Who’s Hot spot is tenuous.
As long as Giannis Antetokounmpo is healthy, Milwaukee is a factor. Without Khris Middleton, whose return from a knee injury has not gone well, there might not be enough weapons to keep up with teams such as the Celtics and Nets on most nights.
- +550 NBA Championship Odds
5. Cleveland Cavaliers
Monday night’s matchup with Brooklyn at home is a great test for a Cavaliers team that had won five in a row before falling to Toronto on Friday. This has been perhaps the most consistent team on the board with the exception of a five-game skid in early November.
Cleveland had two late collapses against Milwaukee earlier in the season but held on to top the Bucks on Wednesday despite 45 points from Giannis. They’ll leapfrog Milwaukee in the Central Division (in case that matters to anyone interested in divisional races) if both teams continue their current trajectories, and they’ll be a tough out for Boston or Brooklyn once spring rolls around.
- +1800 NBA Championship Odds
26. Los Angeles Lakers
There are a few teams with worse records but the eyeball test shows quite clearly that this team is not much without Anthony Davis on the lineup. The Lakers were able to win their first game after Davis suffered a foot injury, but they’ve since lost four in a row and were carved up by Dallas on Christmas day.
Without Davis, Los Angeles had no ability to match the Mavericks size and spacing and LeBron James just doesn’t have enough help to keep up if it turns into a track meet. That’s been the case during the team’s four-game slide, as the Lakers have given up an average of 130.5 points.
LeBron summed it up well on Christmas, saying life without Davis is “very difficult.” Davis will be reassessed in the coming days and any bad news could spell doom for Los Angeles’ chances at making a playoff run.
- +5000 NBA Championship Odds
27. San Antonio Spurs
The streaky Spurs followed up their 11-game slide with three consecutive wins earlier this month, but they’ve since piled up four losses in their last five games. It’s the same old issue – they simply can’t get enough stops to stay with most teams most nights.
San Antonio ranks last in the league in terms of opponents’ scoring (120.2, nearly two points worse than 29th-ranked Detroit).
- +100000 NBA Championship Odds
28. Charlotte Hornets
The Hornets have crawled out of our bottom spot by virtue of winning two of their last three games to pull even at 2-2 on their current road trip.
Gordon Hayward and LaMelo Ball are back after long injury absences and the Hornets should climb up these rankings in the coming weeks. Six Charlotte players scored in double figures and three had at least 23 in Friday’s 134-130 win at the Los Angeles Lakers.
- +50000 NBA Championship Odds
29. Houston Rockets
The Rockets opened up their recent six-game homestand with an impressive victory over the Phoenix Suns, Houston’s second straight win and its second over the Suns in December. They followed up that triumph with five straight losses to close the homestand, although all were somewhat close.
The young talent on this team shows great potential on the defensive end. Unfortunately, not enough of them have refined their offensive game. Houston ranks last in the NBA in shooting (44.3%)
- +100000 NBA Championship Odds
30. Detroit Pistons
They’ve lost five in a row and have three more losses (27) than anyone else in the NBA. After a 130-105 defeat at Atlanta their last time out, the Pistons were giving up an average of 118.3 points, the highest figure in the Eastern Conference.
The Hawks outscored Detroit 70-42 in the second half on Friday. It left the Pistons on pace for about 19 wins, which would be the second-fewest in team history.
- +100000 NBA Championship Odds