NBA Schedule: Miami Heat - Los Angeles Lakers Tops Christmas Games
Like every year, the NBA has wrapped up some presents and stuck them under the tree for Christmas Day 2010.
The league selects the most intriguing games possible for NBA fans to enjoy after scarfing down on Christmas ham and drinking too much egg nog.
Arguably the best matchup ever was the Shaquille O'Neal vs. Kobe Bryant showdown in 2005 when O'Neal was in his first year with the Heat.
The Lebron - Kobe matchup highlighted this year's lineup, but the Cavaliers thrashed the Lakers 102-87. Other notable matchups were the Eastern Confrence Finals preview with Boston vs. Orlando, and a Texas rivalry featuring Dallas and San Antonio.
This year is no different. The NBA came out with the schedule for its premiere games Tuesday night with five notable ones slated for December 25.
Here are the rankings for the best games on Christmas and a prediction of how the game will go.
5. Portland vs. Golden State
The West Coast Christmas finale offers the least intriguing of the bunch, but should be an exciting, up-tempo game.
With David Lee on the Warriors, Golden State will try to make some noise in the Western Conference this season. He's teaming up with two of the top young guards in the NBA in Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis.
Christmas Day could be interesting to Portland. If the team can remain healthy, the Blazers could be a sleeper in the West. They were limping around Christmas last year. Hopefully they won't fall on such hard times now.
With hopefully healthy players like Greg Oden (a huge stretch) and Brandon Roy, Portland should easily take this one.
Prediction: Portland 112, Golden State 95
4. Chicago vs. New York Knicks
The Chicago - New York matchup gives viewers a chance to see two of the league's top power forwards in their new uniforms.
Amar'e Stoudemire vs. Carlos Boozer will easily be the most talked about matchup behind this game and should prove to be an exciting battle to watch.
Both are top scorers but offer different styles of play. Stoudemire brings a more up-tempo game, while Boozer is more effective downlow. Watching their contrasting styles should make for great TV.
Chicago will get the chance to show how much they've improved since last season as it tries to vault itself into the top of the Eastern Conference.
New York will show how much they've improved with Amar'e and another year of Mike D'Antoni running the team.
On top of that, there's nothing like watching a big game at Madison Square Gardens. No matter how good or bad the teams are, the venue always has a special feel to it.
On paper, however, Chicago should win this one pretty easily.
Prediction: Chicago 101, New York 89
3. Denver vs. Oklahoma City
The 8 p.m. game offers a team that's rising and a team that's possibly falling in the West.
Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and their other young Thunder teammates will get to showcase their talents to the world with this matchup. While all NBA fans know how good they can be, many casual fans aren't too familiar with the Thunder.
By Christmas, the team could be progressing towards a deep run in the playoffs. Many have said they could possibly be the second best team in the West and they can prove it with a top performance.
If George Karl is on the sidelines for the Nuggets, they are a much different team that what was seen at the end of last season. Hopefully, Karl will have recovered from his cancer by this point to guide Denver.
Denver looks much like they did last season with Carmelo Anthony leading the way. Depending on how the role players contribute behind him, the team could be near the top of the West or towards the middle of the pack.
The teams appear to be about even right now. Things could be different come Christmas.
Prediction: Oklahoma City 95, Denver 91
2. Boston vs. Orlando
The Miami Heat are being regarded as the top team in the East, but not if these two teams have anything to say about it.
The rematch of last year's Eastern Conference Final has turned into a rivalry of two the East's top squads in recent years.
With that said, the game should be a tough, hard-fought matchup where each try to prove their dominance. Neither want to fall back as favorites in the conference.
Orlando will try to prove it is the team in the East, while Boston will try to prove that its not over the hill.
Whatever the outcome, this one will have a playoff atmosphere and a very close final score.
Prediction: Orlando 89, Boston 86
1. Miami vs. Los Angeles
Even the most casual NBA fan can get amped up over this matchup.
The wannabe champions take on the defending ones in the 2010-11 season's most anticipated game.
The game has many implications for both teams. Miami wants to prove they are the kings of the league with LeBron James and Chris Bosh. Los Angeles will try to show its still the best.
Look for Kobe Bryant to play like a man possessed as he tries to take down the Big Three. It's not crazy to say that Bryant will finish with over 40 points in this primetime matchup.
The Big Three have a few months to develop chemistry before the game. Christmas is a chance to show how the three have gelled.
With so much star-power and so much anticipation, watching this showdown will be the perfect way for any basketball fan to spend Christmas Day.
Prediction: Los Angeles 102, Miami 97