Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all as you sit down to enjoy time with family and of course, NBA on Christmas day! Christmas day never disappoints with flashy passes, monster dunks, and for us fans, a good cup of egg nog with NBA basketball. Let’s take a moment and preview each matchup that ESPN and ABC will supply for us so you know what to expect as you sit down to watch your favorite players this holiday season.
New Orleans Pelicans @ Miami Heat
12:00 pm on ESPN
Let us begin with the home team, enjoying Christmas with their families at home in South Beach. This will be the 12th time the Miami Heat will play on Christmas, as they hold a 9-2 record. Franchise centerpiece, Dwyane Wade will look to have another big time Christmas day performance, as we have come to expect from him over the years. Wade will certainly need a great performance out of his partner in crime, Chris Bosh, who will have a hefty assignment on the defensive end of the floor taking on up and coming superstar, Anthony Davis. Miami has a young stud on the rise themselves, as Justice Winslow will look to play lock down defense and maybe another posterizing dunk? He has had his fair share of posters this season as a rookie, and will certainly be fun to watch as Miami looks to make their record 10-2 on this Christmas.
On the other side, the Pelicans do not have much Christmas Day experience, as they have only played one Christmas game back in 2008 when they were known as the New Orleans Hornets. Anthony Davis will look to carry much of the load this Christmas as he looks to get this Pelicans team back on track as they have underachieved out west thus far with a record of 8-19. Look for this squad to get back up and compete for a playoff spot as the season progresses, but they will look to kick start that comeback with a big W versus Eastern Conference foe, Miami.
Prediction: Miami Heat
Chicago Bulls @ Oklahoma City
2:30 pm on ABC
This matchup is filled with past and present All-Stars to go along with some holiday one-on-one matchups for the ages. We will see the likes of Derrick Rose vs. Russell Westbrook and Jimmy Butler vs. Kevin Durant.
These are the two players that Chicago will depend on as the injury bug has hit the Bulls this past week. They will be without one of their better players in Joakim Noah, who will be out a couple weeks with a shoulder injury. With that said, we will get the opportunity to see what rookie forward, Bobby Portis, has in his repertoire as he will reportedly get the minutes to fill Noah’s absence. Jimmy Butler has emerged as the star of this roster and we expect nothing less from him on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor against one of the tougher matchups he will be up against all season. Look for Butler to get his even with the likes of Kevin Durant checking him all afternoon. In the point guard matchup for the Bulls they will look for Derrick Rose to come out and have a vintage MVP Rose performance. If there is one thing we have learned this season, we never know what we will see from Rose night on and night out as injuries have really derailed his career. It appears that it could be an uphill battle for the Bulls this Christmas on the road.
Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Golden State Warriors
5:00 pm on ABC
Is there anything that I cannot mention about this matchup? This is obviously the matchup of the day, as it is the NBA Finals rematch from last June. Although both these teams look like they did in the NBA Finals by names, the Cleveland Cavaliers have two key pieces that the Warriors did not get a full taste of last time these teams met.
The Cavaliers have something to prove, now healthy, they will look to make a statement like none other this Christmas, but can they accomplish this? Honestly, we will just have to sit and watch for ourselves. King James comes in already a little grouchy, as he has never been all that thrilled of the Christmas Day game, but also being on the road away from family cannot make the situation better. The King will have the other two members of the Big Three in this one as Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving are healthy and hungry to beat a Warriors team that has been on a little bit of winning fever, to say the least. This one will certainly be chippy with high emotion.
The reigning NBA champion Warriors will look to NBA MVP, Stephen Curry, to keep cooking as he is averaging 31 points a night thus far to lead the league in scoring. The Warriors have been as hot as Steph’s jumper as they have had one of the greatest starts in NBA history with a record of 26-1. This Christmas will not see a return of Steve Kerr to the bench for this bunch, but you could say Luke Walton has done a nice job, although he is not credited with any of the wins. Look for all the Warriors key pieces, Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green to have big nights as they still have to prove they can beat the best teams in the league. They can quiet all the haters with a big time win at home vs. the very dangerous, Cleveland Cavaliers.
Prediction: Golden State Warriors
San Antonio Spurs @ Houston Rockets
8:00 pm on ESPN
The Western Conference never disappoints with loaded teams and this one is no different! Although the Spurs have been slightly less noticed with their success out west because of the Warriors outstanding start, I don’t think Spurs head coach, Gregg Popovich minds the loaded Spurs flying under the radar. The Rockets have been in the center of a lot of trade rumors and struggles with chemistry to start the season, even firing their head coach. The Rockets will look to set that all aside and have a Merry Christmas on the 25th.
San Antonio went out and got the likes of LaMarcus Aldridge and David West this offseason, and those two acquisitions have panned out great, as they have bought into what the Spurs are all about. The core of the squad is still Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili who have combined for their fair share of games with the Spurs, and on Christmas. This team some how always seems to find the fountain of youth each and every year. This Christmas as the Spurs are one of the hottest teams in the league, I would have to give the edge to them as they look to have great contributions from each member, although one player stands out the most. Kawhi Leonard is a star that focuses on team first, he has become a great scorer, but mainly a lock down defender with the best in the game. Look for James Harden to have a tough shooting night, as Leonard will for sure be on him all night.
Houston Rockets will look to ride the home crowd in this one, as they need something to get this team back on track after beginning the season 15-15. James Harden will get plenty of shots and can score at will, but this Christmas day game is going to come down to consistency on both ends of the floor. It will be important for Houston to get Dwight Howard active early and James Harden needs to get teammates involved early in the battle of Texas.
Prediction: San Antonio Spurs
Los Angeles Clippers @ Los Angeles Lakers
10:30 pm on ESPN
The nightcap does not disappoint this Christmas as we have ourselves a little L.A. Story. The Lakers will get the nod as the home team in this one, even though both teams call the Staples Center home. As we continue the Kobe going away tour, this will be his final Christmas Day game, but he has been impressive on Christmas over his career to say the least.
Kobe has made a Lakers organization proud over the years, and actually has played the most games of any player on Christmas day, his first being in 1996. Kobe has had a little flash back to the past the last 4 games as he has looked like the Kobe we have grown accustomed to over the years. We can all only hope that Kobe gives us all one last Christmas gift under the tree, with a vintage Kobe performance. The young Lakers have had their fair share of struggles so far this season, but certainly do appear as though they are moving in the right direction for the future. We are in the present though, and even with a vintage Kobe performance I am not sure the Lakers can pull this one out vs. the star powered L.A. Clippers.
The Clippers will look to do what they do best, and that’s Lob City. Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan will look to pick up another win to keep up with the powerhouses of the western conference. CP3 will look to put up great numbers on a younger backcourt for the Lakers. Expect big numbers out of Blake and CP3, with a solid Christmas day win for the experience squad. As great as it would be to see Kobe walk into the sunset of Christmas Day games, I am just not sure that Laker squad is going to have enough to defeat this Hollywood Story the L.A. Clippers have been in recent years.
Prediction: L.A. Clippers
Hope you enjoy this slate of NBA Games with your families and have a happy holiday!