One of the biggest days in the NBA since the 1983-84 season is finally upon us. Christmas is here, which means a full-day slate of games consisting of some of the top talent in the league. You got the defending champions, Miami Heat, going up against the Western Conference winners, Oklahoma City Thunder. You have the new-look Brooklyn Nets, red-hot Los Angeles Clippers and surging New York Knicks.
To get you ready for the games, here are the time slots and stations on which you can watch the games tomorrow. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Right Down Euclid crew:
Boston Celtics (13-13) vs. Brooklyn Nets (14-12) @ 12:00 p.m. on ESPN:
PG – Rajon Rondo vs. Deron Williams
SG – Jason Terry vs. Joe Johnson
SF – Paul Pierce vs. Gerald Wallace
PF – Kevin Garnett vs. Kris Humphries
C – Jason Collins vs. Brook Lopez
This game should be a fun way to start things off, especially since what happened when these teams met up on November 28. After Humphries fouled Garnett, Rondo went completely crazy on the Brooklyn power forward and left him with some battle scratches. We all know that Rondo has a temper problem, but the Boston point guard will most likely be on his best behavior due to his team’s recent losing ways. Besides a win against the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers (L), the Celtics have dropped four of their last five games. Paul Pierce has been the only source of offense lately, so they’ll have to win with their 18th ranked defense.
Prediction: Nets get their first of many Christmas wins at Barclays Center
New York Knicks (20-7) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (13-14) @ 3:00 p.m. on ABC:
PG – Raymond Felton vs. Steve Nash
SG – Jason Kidd vs. Kobe Bryant
SF – Ronnie Brewer vs. Metta World Peace
PF – Carmelo Anthony vs. Pau Gasol
C – Tyson Chandler vs. Dwight Howard
With Nash back in the lineup, the Lakers are hoping that their fortune changes. Through one game, he has delivered. If he feeds the ball to Howard a lot, we could see a really heated matchup brewing with former Eastern Conference rivals when the former Orlando Magic big man goes up against Chandler. The Knicks have had their age questioned all season long, but they have delivered thanks to the performance of MVP hopeful Anthony. The Lakers are an aging group as well, so both teams are looking to make a statement on national television.
Prediction: Knicks, Anthony prove to national audience that they are a legitimate title contender
Oklahoma City Thunder (21-5) vs. Miami Heat (18-6) @ 5:30 p.m. on ABC:
PG – Russell Westbrook vs. Mario Chalmers
SG – Thabo Sefolosha vs. Dwyane Wade
SF – Kevin Durant vs. LeBron James
PF – Serge Ibaka vs. Udonis Haslem
C – Kendrick Perkins vs. Chris Bosh
Even though the Thunder just saw their 12-game winning streak come to an end, I still would put them atop the Western Conference. Even though there are teams that make a strong case, such as the Memphis Grizzlies and Clippers, the Thunder are still at the top of the perch. What’s interesting is that both of these teams (Heat and Thunder) are distributing the ball much better this season compared to last year. Miami ranks fourth (25th in 2011-12) and OKC ranks 12th (29th in 2011-12) in the NBA going into the game. Ray Allen off the bench gives the Heat better movement and the Thunder have found a way in Durant and Westbrook to effectively move the ball. And LeBron is still making a mockery out of box scores.
Prediction: I’ve flip-flopped on my earlier prediction and am now picking the Thunder to win against a meager Heat crowd
Houston Rockets (14-12) vs. Chicago Bulls (15-11) @ 8:00 p.m. on ESPN:
PG – Jeremy Lin vs. Kirk Hinrich
SG – James Harden vs. Marco Belinelli
SF – Chandler Parsons vs. Luol Deng
PF – Marcus Morris vs. Carlos Boozer
C – Omer Asik vs. Joakim Noah
It looks like Harden gets to play on Christmas after all! Actually, the reason I’m excited for this game is due to the fact that I get the chance to watch Parsons on ESPN. When talking about the Wine and Gold needs, the former Florida Gator is the first name that comes to mind regarding filling the starting small forward issue. Alonzo Gee is a valuable bench player at best, but what the young three has done for Houston thus far is exactly the type of production that I would want coming from the Cavaliers in that same position. Also, you can’t fault the job that the Bulls have done without Derrick Rose. Hopefully we’ll see him come 2013.
Prediction: Although the Bulls have a big frontcourt advantage when matched up against the Rockets, I think the backcourt duo of Lin and Harden will be the determining factor
Denver Nuggets (15-13) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (21-6) @ 10:30 p.m. on ESPN
PG – Ty Lawson vs. Chris Paul
SG – Andre Iguodala vs. Willie Green
SF – Danilo Gallinari vs. Caron Butler
PF – Kenneth Faried vs. Blake Griffin
C – Kosta Koufos vs. DeAndre Jordan
When I watched the Nuggets for the first time this season, it was the most exciting basketball that I have watched in a while. Even JaVale McGee was making my head spin, it was that crazy. This team is quick, and there’s a reason why they’re leading the league in fastbreak points (18.2 points per game). They’re always looking up the court, but they will be facing a very tough challenge in the Clippers. Currently riding a 13-game winning streak, the Clips are second in the league to the Nuggets in points in the paint (47.6 points per game), so this should be a fun one to watch down low. The other Los Angeles team has an advantage, however, as they rank first in the NBA in opponent points in the paint per game (36.7 points per game allowed).
Prediction: The better defensive unit will win, so the Clippers will extend their mark to 14 games