NBA: Trying to Predict the Christmas Day Schedule
Much like football has become synonymous with Thanksgiving, so too has the NBA with Christmas Day. It’s become one of the better holiday traditions of opening presents with NBA basketball in the background. This NBA offseason has had a ton of player movement, offering parity in the league the likes of which haven’t been seen in years. Here’s my prediction of which teams will be gracing the big stage on Christmas.
Brooklyn Nets vs Boston Celtics
Everyone loves return games so why not kick off the NBA Christmas Day fun with a much-anticipated return? Kyrie Irving is now a member of the Brooklyn Nets. A year ago it was thought that Kyrie would be in Boston for a long time, however, a rocky season saw Kyrie and Boston grow further and further apart. Although the new-look Nets won’t have Kevin Durant by Christmas time, Brooklyn still has a lot of buzz around them and has a pretty good roster. It’ll also be a chance for newly acquired Kemba Walker and the young Celtics core to show out on the big stage. There has been a lot that has tied these two teams together over the past few years. From the infamous trade to Kyrie trading in Bean Town for Brooklyn. A competitive game on Christmas could be the formation of a nice rivalry.
Milwaukee Bucks vs Philadelphia 76ers
The Bucks and Sixers will enter this season as the two favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference. Last season both teams had over 50 wins with Milwaukee having a league-best 60-22 record. Both teams were also defeated by the Toronto Raptors in the playoffs. Philly and Milwaukee each have some of the best young talents in the league with the Sixers having Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons while the Bucks have the reigning MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo. No matter the stereotypes and bad publicity Philly is a great sports town with passionate fans. There hasn’t been this much buzz around the team since the Iverson days. For Milwaukee, although they’ve lost a few pieces, they still have one of the better rosters top to bottom in the league. It will not be a surprise if the Bucks become a regular participant during the NBA Christmas Day games.
Los Angeles Clippers vs Los Angeles Lakers
The battle for Los Angeles will be the must-watch game of the day. Obviously, this game will be the prime time matchup on ABC as it pits the Lakers against the Clippers. Both teams have arguably the best duos in the league with the Lakers having LeBron and Anthony Davis, while the Clippers have Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. The Clippers went from playoff hopefuls to title contenders literally overnight when they signed Kawhi and traded for PG13. The Lakers traded away a plethora of their young talent to acquire AD but with LeBron on the back end of his career and the window to win another ring closing, it was a move that had to be made. This matchup will go a long way towards bragging rights in the city and should be a star-studded affair with plenty of celebrity appearances.
Utah Jazz vs Houston Rockets
Although it doesn’t seem like it at first glance, there are quite a few interesting storylines within this matchup. For starters, you have Russell Westbrook and James Harden on the same team. Trading Chris Paul to the Thunder for Westbrook not only makes them a more exciting team but also gets rid of the locker room tension that had been building between Harden and CP3. On the Utah side, they not only have a history with the Rockets but also Westbrook. Two years ago Donovan Mitchell as a rookie led Utah to an upset over the Thunder in the playoffs. Utah has also lost to the Rockets in the playoffs the last 2 years. There’s no love lost between the two franchises who’ve had some spirited battles the last few years. With all the moves they’ve made this offseason Utah sports one of the deepest rosters in the league.
Denver Nuggets vs Portland Trailblazers
For the nightcap on Christmas why not have a rematch of one of the best series from last year’s playoffs. The Trailblazers and Nuggets had an exciting 7 game series which included a 4 overtime thriller in game 3. The series ended with an exciting game 7 that came down to the wire. The two teams enter this season with much of their main cores still intact. Jusuf Nurkic most likely won’t be back in time for this game. However, the acquisition of Hassan Whiteside should help bridge the gap until he returns. Both teams boast some very good duos with the combination of Jamal Murray/Nikola Jokic in Denver and the established power duo of Damian Lillard/CJ McCollum for Portland. Even though it’ll be the last NBA game of the day it’s worth watching. With the west wide open both teams see themselves as title contenders.
You may be wondering why I left certain teams off the schedule. More specifically the Knicks, Warriors, and Raptors. My reasoning for it is simple. For years the New York Knicks have been a staple on Christmas and they usually lose. In blowout fashion too. And although there’s nothing like being at the Garden on Christmas, the NBA world shouldn’t be subjected to watching another bad Knicks game.
The past few years have usually featured a rematch of the NBA Finals on Christmas. The exception being last season when the defending champion Warriors took on LeBron’s Lakers. This year, however, both teams that were in the Finals have seen some roster transformations in the worst ways.
For Toronto, they lost Kawhi Leonard who has established himself as a top 5 player in the NBA. Although they are returning pretty much the same team that was in the Finals, the star power and fan attention just wouldn’t be there. The reasoning behind the Warriors not playing boils down to no KD and no Klay. Even though Stephen Curry is still one of the most popular players in the world the Warriors roster will be completely different next season and many see them as struggling to truly contend in a loaded west, especially with Klay hurt. Don’t be surprised if you see fewer Warriors fans next year too. If this is truly the year of parity in the league then Adam Silver and the schedule makers should consider mixing it up and showcasing some talent that usually doesn’t get the big stage of Christmas.
What NBA games would you like to see on Christmas Day? Leave a comment below.
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