Greetings, casual NBA fan. Commissioner Adam Silver would like to welcome you to the 2022-23 season, which begins on Christmas Day .. for some of you.
Yes, the World Cup was riveting when it ended a week ago. The NFL season has also been dramatic and promises to continue to be so right through the Super Bowl. And the Mets have certainly gotten everyone’s attention in New York and throughout Major League Baseball with owner Steve Cohen’s spending spree.
For those who have been distracted, we will bring you up to speed and give you a few things to think about to have Santa show up twice on Christmas Sunday. The five-game slate begins with the Philadelphia 76ers playing the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, followed by the Los Angeles Lakers at Dallas, Milwaukee at Boston, Memphis at Golden State, and Phoenix at Denver.
The Brooklyn Nets are the league’s hottest team at the moment, having won eight straight. But they will not be playing, because Kevin Durant had a trade request when the schedule was set. But the Sixers are right on their heels at seven straight, and those who forsake the eggnog and make it all the way to the finale can watch Nikola Jokic as he makes a push for his third straight MVP award. That would make him the first since Larry Bird in the mid-90s to win that award three times.
Why isn’t the national media talking about Jokic more as an MVP candidate?!
He’s gonna possibly average a triple double this season and may be playing his best ball of the past three seasons. pic.twitter.com/hnTFh92VGl
— George Karl (@CoachKarl22) December 22, 2022
Is Coach Karl Right About Jokic for MVP?
Yes, he is. The big Serbian has been pouring it on lately with triple-doubles in three of his last six games, and he had a career-high 27 rebounds Wednesday against Charlotte. He joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only players with at least 40 points, 27 rebounds and 10 assists in an NBA game.
Jokic’s scoring is down 2.2 points from last season, and his rebounds have dropped from 13.8 to 10.9. But his field goal percentage is a career-high 61.5%, and he has gone from +3500 a couple weeks ago to +600 in the MVP race, trailing only cofavorites Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jayson Tatum (+300) and Dallas’ Luka Dončić (+480). Durant is lurking at +1000, along with the Sixers’ Joel Embiid, and all but Dončić will be on the national TV slate televised by ABC and ESPN.
The favorites for Defensive Player of the Year (Brook Lopez, +150) and Sixth Man (Russell Westbrook, +160) also are on display, and the main men missing will be Golden State’s Steph Curry (shoulder injury) and the Lakers’ Anthony Davis (right foot injury). But that should not deter folks from catching as many of these five games as they can, even with the NFL putting three games on national TV as well. That will be making those of us shivering jealous as we watch the Packers play in Miami, the Broncos play the Rams in El Lay and Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Bucs play in Arizona.
People who follow the sports industry will be watching closely on Monday when the overnight ratings come out and we learn what people watched. The NBA is in a league-wide youth movement, and is putting a ton of focus on the NBA App, while the NFL has always been king and is sticking with what has worked: TV.
On the eve of #NBAXmas… we count down the TOP 10 PLAYS OF THE SEASON so far! pic.twitter.com/vjUgHl0iRB
— NBA (@NBA) December 24, 2022
What About that Gift From Santa?
We are going to try to give that to you by picking a five-way parlay and wagering it along with you.
In the Sixers-Knicks game, James Harden is coming off a 21-assist triple-double on Friday night against the Clippers, and he is +1000 to have his second of the season on Sunday afternoon. Since Pete Davidson is expected to attend with yet another supermodel, Harden may try to date-steal that woman by impressing her with his repertoire. So, yeah, we like that triple-double to start a five-way parlay.
joining legendary company in Mo Cheeks & Wilt Chamberlain. pic.twitter.com/OlPeoniiD8
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) December 24, 2022
In the second game, the 13-19 Lakers play the 17-16 Mavericks, with Los Angeles having lost six in a row. But LeBron James has scored at least 30 in five straight. James has played on Christmas Day 16 times, and he has 12 20-point games and four 30-point games. He’s had seven double-doubles and one triple-double. Because that line is +1400 and because he is overdue, that is leg two (and we are making this wager on DraftKings, which is offering a free Christmas Day wager. You must opt-in first).
In Game 3, we have a Greek Freak overdue for his second triple-double of the season, and the East’s top two teams face off for the first time this season. Last season, Giannis never came close to a triple-double in three appearances against the Celtics, so we aren’t going to push it there. We like Bobby Portis to have a double-double for the 19th time, so leg three is Portis to double-double at +255.
In Game 4, the Grizzlies have a hugely confident superstar in Ja Morant, who relishes the spotlight of playing on national TV. The Warriors are a mess and are coming off losses by 30 against the Nets and 30 against the Knicks, so we are taking Grizzlies -12 1/2 on the alternate spread line at +275.
Leg 5 is “yes” on a Jokic triple-double at +180.
That five-way wager offers odds of +670850, so a $10 wager would pay $67, 095. Not a bad Christmas present if it hits, and we played it. Good luck to you if you do, too.
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