NBA Schedule: Predicting the Christmas Day Games
Many fans believe the NBA season doesn't really start until tipoff on Christmas Day.
Sure, by then, there will have been almost two months of basketball played, but the games on Dec. 25 are always a spectacle. There are five marquee matchups for the NBA to display its best talent to a national audience.
While kids unwrap gifts and parents enjoy the holiday cheer, NBA games will be on in the background. So who will it be next season?
The defending champion Miami Heat are certainly a shoo-in, but what about the other nine teams who will round out the holiday schedule?
In the following slideshow, I'll tell you who they should be.
Noon: Chicago Bulls at New York Knicks
During the 90s, this was a staple.
The Chicago Bulls and New York Knicks faced off on Christmas in 2010, with the Knicks winning 103-95. The two teams also played on Dec. 21 this past season when a mini-brawl ensued between Tyson Chandler and Joakim Noah.
The Bulls went on to win that game, and actually won all four meetings between the two last season.
Both teams are threats to dethrone the Miami Heat as Eastern Conference champions, and will surely want to measure themselves against the other elite teams in the conference.
3 p.m.: Brooklyn Nets at Los Angeles Clippers
An era ending in Boston started a new one for the Los Angeles Clippers, and opened a championship window for the Brooklyn Nets.
Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce won one title together as Boston Celtics while led by head coach Doc Rivers. That was in 2008. Since then, they've made just one NBA Finals appearance. So, this past offseason the gang split up—Rivers bolted to become coach of the Clippers and Pierce and Garnett were dealt to the Nets.
While it is sad seeing an era end in Boston, it is thrilling to see more teams become title contenders while creating storylines.
This should be the first matchup between the two teams since their new acquisitions. Will it be strange for Rivers, Garnett and Pierce to be in the same arena, but not the same sideline? Perhaps, or maybe both would be focused on the task at hand: gaining another championship.
5:30 p.m.: San Antonio Spurs at Miami Heat
In what should be the first meeting between the two teams since June, I consider this game a no-brainer.
Whoever the defending champion is from a season ago always gets the prime-time game on Christmas. I think it's safe to say that an NBA Finals rematch is not something the fans would complain about. The classic seven-game series between the Heat and San Antonio Spurs left fans (especially me) aching to see them face off again.
Emotions will be running high as LeBron James and the Heat will be on a quest for their third consecutive championship. Meanwhile, the Spurs will be bringing the band back together, yet again, to compete for a fifth title in the Tim Duncan-Gregg Popovich era.
I bet San Antonio fans still feel the grief when they watch Ray Allen hit that three at the end of regulation in Game 6 to force overtime. I bet Heat fans are still giddy after a second championship-rewarding campaign.
This one would be a classic.
I think it's safe to say that nobody would leave the arena early no matter what the score is.
8 p.m.: Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder
This game is just brewing with storylines.
James Harden has solidified himself as one of the best players in the league since the Oklahoma City Thunder traded him days before the start of last season. Harden willed his team to the eighth seed in the playoffs before falling to his former team, and the Houston Rockets ended up with Dwight Howard via free agency.
Now a legitimate threat to win the Western Conference, Harden will likely have to go through old friends if he wants to make it to the NBA Finals. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will have something to say about that.
Despite making the Finals just two seasons ago, the Thunder are now being overlooked. The offseason acquisitions made by the Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers, along with the Spurs' recent showdown with the Heat, has people forgetting just how good the Thunder can be.
Sure, Westbrook got hurt early in the postseason and the team suffered a second-round exit, but OKC still has two All-NBA players leading the way.
Nothing like old friends meeting back up again.
10:30 p.m.: Denver Nuggets at Golden State Warriors
This postseason, the NBA world was introduced to the Baby-Faced Assassin.
Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors put on a show against the Denver Nuggets and San Antonio Spurs before eventually falling to the Spurs in six games.
Curry is amazing to watch. Perhaps next season his team will be even better. Despite losing Jarrett Jack and Carl Landry to free agency, the Warriors nabbed Andre Iguodala. Now with weapons galore, Curry is set to have another solid campaign.
What a perfect way to end the Christmas holiday.