NBA & NCAAB Christmas Day Preview Podcast - 24 December 2020
On Christmas Day, our podcasters Bob and Ben Dunkel enjoy nothing more than to watch wall-to-wall basketball. And this year, the team gets an extra bonus as the college ranks join the NBA for Christmas Day action. Listen to Bob and Ben as they analyze each of the contests.
The day starts with the New Orleans Pelicans facing the defending Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat. The Pels are led by new head coach, Stan Van Gundy, who has added veterans Eric Bledsoe and Steven Adams to the exciting young mix of Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram. That combination worked to perfection in the opener as New Orleans overcame an 11-point deficit in the second half to knock off the Toronto Raptors, 113-99.
The Heat showed some signs of fatigue following last year’s run to the NBA Finals as they were outscored 19-12 down the stretch in a 113-107 loss to Orlando. Facing a young and rising Pels team that is 17-8-1 ATS in its last 26 games following a win does not look like a great bounceback opportunity. Dunkel is taking New Orleans and the points in this one.
The marquee matchup looks to be later in the day as the revamped Brooklyn Nets take on the Boston Celtics. The Nets couldn’t have looked better in their opener and coach Steve Nash’s debut as they got 48 points from Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in a 125-99 rout of Golden State.
The Celtics are dealing with the loss of Gordon Hayward to free agency and Kemba Walker’s knee injury that will keep him out of the lineup for the early part of the season. But they showed they still have plenty left as Jaylen Brown (33 points) and Jayson Tatum (30 points) led the Celts to a 122-121 win over the Bucks in their opener. While Vegas has made the popular Nets a 2.5-point favorite, Dunkel is backing the Celts and their 17-4 ATS record as a home underdog in this contest.
The colleges have four games – all in the Big Ten – on the schedule starting with Wisconsin playing at Michigan State. It’s been a long time since the Badgers won at East Lansing (2004), but Dunkel likes Greg Gard’s team to snap the 12-game skid behind a defense that is holding teams to just 57.5 points on 36.2 percent shooting.
Later in the day, the Iowa Hawkeyes will take the court against the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Iowa did a nice job bouncing back from a loss to Gonzaga with a 70-55 win over Purdue earlier in the week. Luka Garza (28.4 points, 9.1 rebounds) has dominated opponents and the Gophers look ripe to continue that trend. Minnesota comes in just 2-7-2 ATS in its last 9 games against teams with a winning percentage above .600 and that includes a 92-65 blowout loss to Illinois in their only conference game thus far.
To get all of Dunkel’s NBA and NCAA basketball picks, visit our picks pages.