NBA Christmas Day 2021 games, odds: Nets-Lakers marquee matchup on holiday; Nets-Bucks opens overall 2021-22 regular-season schedule

The NBA has released its five-game slate for Christmas Day as well as the two games on Opening Night.
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The biggest day of the NBA's regular season each year is Christmas Day – both from a ratings and betting action standpoint. It will be interesting to see if those drop this Dec. 25 because there are also two NFL games scheduled, including a marquee Browns at Packers matchup, but the NBA has released the five-game slate and it's highlighted by a potential NBA Finals preview between the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angels Lakers from L.A. It's the 14th year in a row the NBA is playing five games on the holiday.

The first game at noon ET is Atlanta Hawks at New York Knicks, a rematch of their first-round playoff series that the Hawks won in five games – and Trae Young became Public Enemy No. 1 in NYC. FanDuel already opened the Knicks at -1.5. 

At 2:30 p.m. ET, the Boston Celtics visit the defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks, who opened at -7. Obviously these game lines can/will change dramatically. 

Because Browns-Packers kicks off at 4:30 p.m. ET, the NBA smartly didn't put Nets-Lakers in that window but instead Warriors at Suns with a 5 p.m. ET tip. Phoenix opened at -4.5 on the NBA odds.

Of course, the Nets have a Big 3 of All-Stars and future Hall of Famers in Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving and the Lakers have their own such trio in LeBron James (who used to play with Kyrie), Anthony Davis and offseason trade acquisition Russell Westbrook (who used to play with both Durant and Harden). That's an 8 p.m. ET tip, opposite Colts at Cardinals in the NFL.

Brooklyn is the +225 favorite at Caesars Sportsbook to win the 2022 NBA title and the Lakers are +400 second-favorites. The Lakers have opened as 1.5-point favorites – the Nets will be underdogs very rarely next year when fully healthy. They were rarely fully healthy this past season. The Lakers also will rarely be dogs if healthy. 

The NBA Christmas schedule concludes with Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks visiting the Utah Jazz at 10:30 p.m. ET. Doncic has opened as the +425 favorite to win NBA MVP, but Utah is a 5.5-point favorite. The Jazz, remember, finished with the NBA's best record last year but lost in the second round of the playoffs.

The Denver Nuggets were left out, which is notable because Nuggets star center Nikola Jokic is the first reigning MVP to not get a Christmas Day game since the NBA went to five games on the holiday in 2008.

The league also announced the two Opening Night games on Oct. 19: Nets at Bucks (-1.5) in a rematch of their terrific Eastern Conference semifinal series and then Warriors at Lakers (-6) in Westbrook's LA debut and presumably the return of Golden State's Klay Thompson after missing the past two seasons injured.

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