Fantasy basketball tips and NBA betting picks for Christmas Day

ESPN’s fantasy basketball and basketball betting tips cheat sheet is your pregame destination for basketball betting predictions and our best intel and data to help you make smart fantasy and wagering decisions. NBA game odds for December 25th are provided by Caesars Sportsbook, and fantasy advice is based on ESPN 10-team leagues.


Merry Melton: The Philadelphia 76ers have thrived on both sides of the floor since De’Anthony Melton joined the starting lineup several weeks back. Still a free agent in more than half of ESPN leagues, expect Melton to play well over 30 minutes in Madison Square Garden on Sunday. Only OG Anunoby has averaged more steals while Melton paces the league in steal percentage. Averaging 2.6 steals and 3.1 made 3-pointers per game in the starting lineup, Melton is a strong target for 3-point shooting (2.5 on DraftKings) and defensive props (1.5 steals on DK) for this holiday tilt.

Ho Ho Hardaway: You can always expect Tim Hardaway Jr. to shoot. So much so that his 3-point prop on DraftKings for the Christmas matchup with the Lakers is a game-high 3.5. Averaging nearly 17 points per game in December with nearly nine 3-pointers lofted per game in this sample, Hardaway is a top streaming option for Sunday given he’s a free agent in 85% of ESPN leagues and is expected to be an important spacing and scoring Threat for Dallas.

Time Lord’s Time: You can still find an elite defensive difference-maker for the price of a roster spot in 30% of ESPN leagues, as Boston’s Robert Williams proves. The “Time Lord” rested on Friday but is due to play against the Bucks on Sunday afternoon in a pivotal matchup of top defensive forces, with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez forming a formidable frontcourt. Williams just collected a season-high 12 boards in his last game and has produced at least one block and one steal in two of three outings thus far. Still ramping back to form, Williams could eventually provide league-winning production.

–Jim McCormick and Kyle Soppe


Breaking down the Christmas Day slate

Philadelphia 76ers at New York Knicks
12 p.m. ET on ESPN, Madison Square Garden, New York

lines: 76ers (-2)
Money line: 76ers (-130), Knicks (+110)
Total: 217.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 225.4 points
BPI Win%: 76ers (50.7%)

Fantasy streamer: Georges Niang (rostered in 0.5% of ESPN leagues). is on the streaming radar for fantasy managers in deeper leagues with PJ Tucker dealing with an injury. Tucker has averaged 28.5 minutes per game this season so perhaps Niang can carve out more playing time in the 76ers rotation. He has averaged 19.0 points and 4.6 rebounds per 40 minutes this season. –Eric Moody

Best bet: Julius Randle over 33.5 points + rebounds. Randle has exceeded 33.5 points and rebounds in seven of his past nine games. Randle has averaged 21.5 points and 10.0 rebounds over his past eight games against the 76ers. –Moody

Los Angeles Lakers at Dallas Mavericks
2:30 p.m. ET on ESPN, American Airlines Center, Dallas, Texas

lines: Mavericks (-8)
Money line: Mavericks (-345), Lakers (+270)
Total: 226.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 240.5 points
BPI Win%: Mavericks (64.7%)

questionable:
Ruled Out:
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assume questionable players will play

Fantasy streamer: Tim Hardaway Jr. (rostered in 14.5% of ESPN leagues). Hardaway is firmly on the streaming radar against the Lakers, especially with Reggie Bullock not expected to play. Hardaway Jr. has averaged 19.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.6 assists per 40 minutes this season. –Moody

Best bet: Luka Doncic over 10.5 first quarter total points. I expect Doncic will start fast against a Lakers team without Anthony Davis. Doncic has averaged 11.3 PPG in the first quarter this season. –Moody

Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics
5 p.m. ET on ESPN, TD Garden, Boston, Massachusetts

lines: Celtics (-4.5)
Money line: Celtics (-190), Bucks (+158)
Total: 225.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 237.3 points
BPI Win%: Celtics (74.4%)

questionable: robert williams iii
Ruled Out: Chris Middleton
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assume questionable players will play

Fantasy streamer: Al Horford (rostered in 46.7% of ESPN leagues). Horford can be viewed as a reliable streamer and has the potential to exceed expectations. He scored 55 fantasy points on Friday night against the Timberwolves and has averaged 29.2 fantasy points per game this season. –Moody

Memphis Grizzlies at Golden State Warriors
8 p.m. ET on ESPN, Chase Center, San Francisco, Calif.

lines: Grizzlies (-5)
Money line: Grizzlies (-210), Warriors (+175)
Total: 228.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 264.6 points
BPI Win%: Grizzlies (68.4%)

Ruled Out: Ja Mychal Green, Andrew Wiggins, Stephen Curry
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assume questionable players will play

Phoenix Suns at Denver Nuggets
10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN, Ball Arena, Denver, Colo.

lines: Nuggets (-4.5)
Money line: Nuggets (-195), Suns (+162)
Total: 230.5 points
BPI Projected Total: 234.9 points
BPI Win%: Nuggets (64.7%)

Ruled Out: Devin Booker, Cameron Payne
Note: BPI numbers factored in players who are ruled out but assume questionable players will play

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