Happy Holidays, my friends! This article is dedicated to the biggest day in the NBA regular season, Christmas Day. NBA on Christmas is a tradition that is a holiday staple, similar to the NFL on Thanksgiving. Let us take a look at these five games!
First Game: Celtics vs. Raptors at Noon ET
This game will play a significant part in the Eastern Conference standings. These two have not met since October 25th which ended in a close victory for Boston 112-106. The Raptors are sitting at 20-8 after a close victory against the Mavericks, however it came at a huge price. In that game, both Pascal Siakam, who is their leading scorer and Marc Gasol both went down with injuries and will be unable to play on Christmas. The team was already dealing with injuries to their bench players Stanley Johnson and Norman Powell. They will also be unable to play. The Celtics got off to a wicked hot start at 10-1 and have some what cooled off a little bit at 19-7. The three-headed monster of Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, and Jaylen Brown are all averaging 20 points a game or over, making up for Gordon Hayward’s absence. As impressive as their scoring has been, their defense has been steller thus far season and are 2nd in the league in opponent’s points allowed. It should be interesting to see how Toronto can keep up with Boston’s scoring and figure out a way to score on Boston’s amazing defense without their rising star Pascal Siakam.
My prediction: Boston wins convincingly 114-98.
Second Game: Bucks @ 76ers at 2:30 PM ET
The Bucks have been red hot this season sitting at 26-4. Giannis Antetokounmpo has been looking dominant averaging 31.4 points per game to go along with 12.7 rebounds per game. He has spearheaded an explosive Milwaukee team that is certainly a contender to go to the NBA finals this season. They have been on fire offensively averaging 120.7 points per game, which is currently leading the league. Not only are they first in points per game, but they are first in defensive rating and pace. However, the 76ers are a very formidable opponent. They have only lost on their home court once this season, which did not happen until last week. The 76ers are sitting 6th in the conference with their offense spearhead by Ben Simmons quarterbacking the offense with their premier scorers being Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris who are averaging 23.1 and 19.2 points per game respectively. These two teams have yet to play against each other this season and this should prove to be a very compelling match-up that will have implications down the road.
My prediction: Milwaukee 110-106.
Third Game: Rockets at Warriors 5:00 PM ET
This game would have been amazing, last year or even 3 months ago. But now, this game is kind of a snoozer in the middle of the day. This rematch of last year’s Western Conference Finals is looking a whole lot different now. The Warriors have had an abysmal season with Steph Curry’s season ending injury, Klay Thompson sitting out this season recovering from his ACL injury from last year’s postseason, and of course the departure of Kevin Durant, who is also injured for this season. The now D’Angelo Russell and Eric Paschall led Warriors are a whopping 6-24 and are last in the league in offensive rating. On the other hand, the duo of James Harden and Russell Westbrook have led the Rockets to be 4th in the West. James Harden has been an absolute cheat code this season averaging almost 40 points a game. Yes, you read that correctly. These teams have yet to play this season and will serve as good background to your Christmas dinners.
My Prediction: 126-106 Houston.
Fourth Game: Clippers vs. Lakers 8:00 PM ET
That Christmas dinner that you probably enjoyed during the 5:00 game, better be wrapped up by the tip-off of this one. The Battle of LA part 2 will take place between the NBA’s newest most exciting rivalry. Both teams are title contenders this season and have featured star-studded duos with Lebron and Anthony Davis on the LAkers swuaring off against defending NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and Paul George on each side. The Lakers have thrived with Lebron and AD meshing well together and are sitting atop the Western Conference with a record of 24-5. However, the Clippers beat them down in their season opener and are not too far behind in the standings. I would also have the point the fact that the Lakers have notoriously struggled in big games this season. This battle of the league’s 3rd best defense, the Lakers and the league’s 5th best offense, the Clippers should prove to be an exciting one and the game I am looking forward to the most.
My Prediction: Clippers 109-108.
Fifth Game: Pelicans vs. Nuggets 10:30 PM ET
This late night matchup between the Nuggets and Pelicans is reminiscent of the snoozer game that is played at 5:00 to the naked eye. Although the Pelicans are sitting ner the bottom of the conference, they actually won the previous matchup between the two handily 122-107. Both young teams should be looking to make a statement in this nationally televised game. Now, I have been awfully critical of the New Orleans Pelicans as you can read here. The Nuggets have built off of last season’s success with their total team effort. Nikola Jokic, Will Barton, and Jamal Murray have slid under the radar a bit, but are 19-8 and 3rd in the West. Although, Brandon Ingram has emerged as a star for the Pelicans averaging over 25 points per game and with still no sign of Zion returning, is going to have to carry this team to victory on Christmas night if that is going to happen for them.
My prediction: Nuggets 130-114.