The NBA’s annual holiday quintuplet of games has finally arrived and I couldn’t be more happier.
For some, Christmas is a time for giving. Well the NBA has given us a full slate of games to enjoy for most of our holiday.
The fun will tip-off at Madison Square Garden with Celtics/Knicks at 12:00 PM ET, followed by the official start of the regular season in Cleveland with the Warriors/Cavaliers at 2:30 PM ET. After “Game 8,” the excitement continues in San Antonio with Bulls/Spurs at 5:00 PM ET. Action speeds up with Timberwolves/Thunder at 8:00 PM ET and the night concludes at Staples Center with Clippers/Lakers at 10:30 PM ET.
Something to keep an eye out for is that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are looking to become members of Christmas’ 300-point club. James needs to score 30 points and Wade needs 27 points to join Kobe Bryant and Oscar Robertson as the only players to score 300 points on Christmas Day.
Here are my picks for Christmas Day.
Boston Celtics @ New York Knicks – ESPN
In a division rivalry between the Celtics and Knicks, New York received a big break when Kristaps Porzingis told the media “I’ll be ready,” in reference to Sunday’s game. He suffered a right knee contusion against the Orlando Magic on Thursday. Porzingis has surpassed Carmelo Anthony as arguably the most important player on the Knicks.
On the other hand, the Celtics will be playing again on Christmas for the first time in four years.
With Isaiah Thomas playing his best basketball of the season, Knicks point guard Derrick Rose will have his hands full. He is averaging 26.7 points, 6.1 assists and is shooting 89.5 percent from the free-throw line.
In their last matchup, the Celtics thumped the Knicks 115-87. Porzingis shot 5-of-15 from the field and Anthony was ejected in the second quarter.
Despite recent history, I believe the Knicks will get the job done with balanced scoring between Rose, Anthony, and Porzingis.
Golden State Warriors @ Cleveland Cavaliers – ABC
I referenced to this NBA Finals rematch as “Game 8” in the introduction above because after six long months, everyone’s favorite matchup returns. I’d be lying to you if I told you I wouldn’t be glued to a television come 2:30 ET. This game is significant because it will be a preview of an epic trilogy of The Finals. The difference is
the Warriors have added an additional MVP by the name of Kevin Durant.
If history serves us well, the Cleveland Cavaliers will win this game because LeBron James has a 17-4 overall record against Durant. Well, the Cavaliers are without their starting shooting guard J.R. Smith for the next 3 months due to him sustaining a broken thumb.
This game will feature seven all-stars on the court at the same time, eight if you count David West.
Even though the Cavaliers are on a 9-1 in their last 10 games, I can tell that the Warriors will come the Quicken Loans Arena ready to deliver coal in Cleveland’s stockings. It will be close but the Warriors will be victorious.
Chicago Bulls @ San Antonio Spurs – ABC
The underachieving Bulls travel to face the Spurs for the third game in the Christmas schedule. The Bulls have lost eight of their last eleven games heading into Sunday. This matchup could be a snooze fest or could go down to the wire and get really exciting. A miracle might be needed to keep up with the second best team in the Western Conference.
Chicago lost their last matchup against San Antonio 95-91 on December 8th in which Dwyane Wade scored 20 points. It would be a delight to see him score 27 to reach 300-points on Christmas. I’m sure Wade will relish the opportunity to play on the holiday once again.
The Spurs are coming off one of their best games of the season in which they defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 110-90 without Tony Parker, Marc Gasol or Manu Ginobili.
Kawhi Leonard led the team to a victory with 33 points. Even though the Bulls are one of five teams to beat the Spurs this year, I anticipate the San Antonio gaining the edge in a blowout of at least 20 points.
Minnesota Timberwolves @ OKC Thunder – ESPN
The second to last game of the night features two young and electric teams, well maybe I’m just referring to the Timberwolves and Russell Westbrook. This will be the first Christmas Day game for Minnesota, a day where budding superstars get to showcase their talent on a worldwide stage. The Thunder, on the other hand have played on the holiday before and are primed to face one of the worst teams in the league.
With a core including Zach Lavine, Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns, you would think that the Timberwolves would be a much better team than their 9-20 record shows.
On the other hand, if you haven’t been following the NBA this season, Westbrook is averaging 31.8 points, 10.5 rebounds and 10.8 assists. Averaging a triple-double before Christmas is one thing, but the way he is collecting his triple-doubles is special.
In this matchup, there should be a plethora of dunks and athletic plays. If it comes down to the final seconds, expect Westbrook to hoist up a long three and live with the results. I don’t think the Timberwolves have what it takes to stop the “walking triple-double” and the Thunder. Oklahoma City will prevail with a victory.
LA Clippers @ Los Angeles Lakers – ESPN
The nightcap and epic conclusion of the NBA’s five-game slate is a showdown between the two teams in Los Angeles. Two teams, with different aspirations. The Clippers are chasing a championship and the Lakers are chasing a playoff seed. This matchup is always exciting as it pits fans in the same city against each other. Who comes out on top at Staples Center?
For the second year in a row, these two teams face each other on Christmas. Even though the Clippers don’t have any championships, they do have an 11-game winning streak against the Lakers. This alone lets you know who the favorite to win is.
With Blake Griffin out with a knee injury, it’s up to Chris Paul once again to make sure the Clippers come out with the victory. Paul missed their last game against the Dallas Mavericks due to a strained hamstring.
The Lakers have lost 12 of their last 13 games. Luckily they have D’Angelo Russell back from injury. The purple and gold will need to have a complete game from Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle in order to make the game competitive. The Clippers, however will increase their active streak against their hometown rival to 12.