2011 NBA Regular Season: Potential Additions to NBA Christmas Games

Zac Chow@Z_NBAContributor IIIDecember 1, 2011

2011 NBA Regular Season: Potential Additions to NBA Christmas Games

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    Christmas has taken on an extra meaning to basketball fans. 

    If you haven't been following the basketball world (and I don't blame you after the lockout fiasco), basketball is set to return on Christmas Day, and several media outlets have reported that two additional games will take place alongside the three games originally scheduled (which are Bulls vs. Lakers, Heat vs. Mavericks and Knicks vs. Celtics).

    Now, to be a Christmas game, the matchup must not be out of place alongside the mouth-watering battles on the originally announced schedule while also containing reasons for fans to get excited prior to the actual game.

    In the following slides, I will be analyzing some of the potential matchups that both casual and hardcore basketball fans would enjoy. Due to the reasons mentioned above, teams such as Toronto and Charlotte are not included. I apologize in advance.

    And without further ado...

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Why should we be excited about this matchup?

    With the hiring of Rick Adelman, the Timberwolves will no doubt try to play at a quicker pace, and everyone will want to see whether Ricky Rubio is worth the wait. Alongside Rubio, rebounding machine Kevin Love and the athletic trio of Michael Beasley, Derrick Williams and Wes Johnson make the Timberwolves a very exciting team to watch in the upcoming season. 

    For the Thunder, Kevin Durant had been playing in exhibitions all across the country, and seeing him face off offensively against old friend Beasley would be very exciting. Many would also want to see whether Russell Westbrook can control the pace against Rubio and whether Westbrook is indeed the point guard that can lead the Thunder to success after trade rumours involving him and Rajon Rondo. 

    Pairing the Timberwolves against the Thunder would make for a showcase of young players, and the game would no doubt be played at a pace suitable for causal basketball fans.

Washington Wizards vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Why should we be excited about this matchup?

    Kyrie Irving may be the No. 1 pick in a weak draft, but the guy can play. Seeing him face off against the No. 1 pick in the previous draft, John Wall, would no doubt be very intriguing. Cleveland fans would also like to see whether Tristan Thompson, the No. 4 pick in the draft, is worth them passing up on Jonas Valanciunas amongst others. 

    For the Wizards, the addition of Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton to the team makes Washington one of the most athletic teams in the league. Washington fans would definitely also want to see who gets the start at shooting guard between Nick Young and Jordan Crawford and whether JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche play with a new mentality.

    In the end, though, this is all about Wall versus Irving, and the newly drafted point guard out of Duke would face his first challenge in a tough season ahead. 

New Orleans Hornets vs. Indiana Pacers

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    Why should we be excited about this matchup?

    It has been widely reported that the Boston Celtics are interested in Chris Paul. While the Hornets are not interested in doing a straight-up trade between Rajon Rondo and Paul, the Pacers have been identified as a suitor for Rondo, with the Hornets receiving someone like Danny Granger from the Pacers. This would give New Orleans fans a first hand look at Granger and any additional pieces required to make the three-team trade.

    Outside of trade rumors, it would be interesting to see whether the Hornets keep David West and if not, then who—if anybody—has been signed as a replacement for the two-time All-Star. Chris Paul would keep the team competitive, but whether or not he remains at the Big Easy is a question waiting to be answered. 

    For the Pacers, meanwhile, the addition of George Hill will bolster the young squad. It would be interesting to see whether the addition of Brian Shaw on the sidelines help second-year coach Frank Vogel and whether the addition of an experienced coach like Shaw is reflected on the team's performance. 

Houston Rockets vs. Golden State Warriors

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    Why should we be excited about this matchup?

    Two new head coaches, fresh off a stint as an analyst on a major NBA broadcasting network (Mark Jackson for ESPN/ABC, Kevin McHale for TNT), will be facing off against each other in the hopes of transforming their respective team's style.

    For the Rockets, McHale will be trying to instill an inside-first, outside-second mentality into the team, and first-round draft pick Marcus Morris will be the first to benefit, thanks to his low-post moves. There is also the possibility of a new big man in the Toyota Center, as Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is ringing many agents' phones in the hope of finding a replacement for the recently retired Yao Ming.

    On the other hand, Jackson will be preaching defense to a team that has not played defense in the past few years. The former Knicks point guard will also be trying to take the ball out of Monta Ellis' hands and into Stephen Curry's. It will be interesting to see whether Ellis remains as effective off the ball and whether he will indeed be traded as rumored. 

    It will also be amusing to see how Jeff Van Gundy responds to the strategies set by his former colleague, and the same goes for Charles Barkley and the other TNT analysts with McHale. One thing is for sure, however: The game will be the first step for both teams in transforming into potential playoff contenders. 

Orlando Magic vs. Los Angeles Clippers

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    Why should we be excited about this matchup?

    The Clippers have one of the most explosive players in the league in Blake Griffin, and it would be interesting to see whether Vinny Del Negro pairs him up with DeAndre Jordan or Chris Kaman.

    Orlando would be a team that many Los Angeles fans would follow throughout the season simply because of the potential of their team getting Dwight Howard. If the Magic continue to play like they did last season, there is no doubt that Howard would pack his bags at the end of the season and move to Los Angeles. This would be a first glimpse into what Orlando's season could be. 

    Nonetheless, this game is all about Griffin dunks, and what better way to celebrate Christmas than seeing Dwight Howard getting "Mozgoved" by Blake Griffin or Superman swatting a potential dunk out of the building? 

Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Memphis Grizzlies/New Jersey Nets vs. Orlando Magic

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    Why should we be excited about the matchups?

    Thunder vs. Grizzlies: The rematch of last season's Western Conference semifinals, only this time the Grizzlies will have the help of star scorer Rudy Gay. If the Grizzlies can fight the Thunder to seven games without Gay, one must wonder whether they can defeat the Thunder with their leading scorer.

    Magic vs. Nets: Many, including me, have already written about the possibility of Dwight Howard joining the Nets, and this match would give Howard a first-hand look at his potential new team. For the Nets, the return of a healthy Deron Williams from a stint with Besiktas will boost the team, and he will be one of the fittest players coming into opening day.