Forget Kobe and LeBron: Why Lakers-Heat Isn't the Most Important Christmas Game

Pat Mixon@patmixonSenior Analyst IDecember 24, 2010

Of course, the Christmas Day battle between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Miami Heat makes for must-see TV and media hype. But tomorrow’s meeting between Kobe Bryant and Co. versus the Miami Thrice of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh isn’t the most important holiday game going on.

That’s because the real matchup tomorrow that matters is the first one on ABC’s schedule—the Boston Celtics playing the Orlando Magic.

Okay, before you stop reading, hear me out. 

Don’t get me wrong. I for one will be glued to the Lakers game because it is one of the most exciting regular season games to come along in years. 

Who doesn’t want to see how the super friends of the Miami Lukewarm perform against the two-time defending NBA champion Lakers?

And, I expect it to be a solid game, not like in years past when the Lakers have, to use Kobe words, “been rocked or done the rocking.”

Sure, the Heat want to beat the champs. And the Lakers want to send a message to the upstart pretenders to the throne. Count on one of these teams getting their statement across.

But, it’s meaningless. 

It is only the regular season and there are no guarantees that these teams will meet in the NBA Finals. As a matter of fact, I’m not even picking the Heat to get there.

This is why I say tomorrow’s first game is the only one that matters. 

That’s because the Orlando Magic made a bold move and revamped their lineup with the recent trades that got them Gilbert Arenas, Jason Richardson and Hedo Turkoglu.

And, three games into this new roster, the Magic now have to go and battle the East-leading Celtics.

This is the game on Christmas that has real meaning. 

The Magic’s GM Otis Smith rolled the dice on this trade. He knew his current roster wasn’t good enough to get by Boston.

Now the Magic have added three guys who can create their own shots. This isn’t the jump-shooting team of past Orlando seasons. These three can get to the cup and open things up. 

The Magic’s offense won’t stagnate like it used to and revolve around getting the ball into Dwight Howard, who is only improving as an offensive threat, or kicking it out to jump shooters.

That formula worked for regular season wins, but not playoff glory. That’s because teams like Boston packed the paint, performed massive closeouts on shooters and made the Magic live and die by their jumpers. 

If the Magic were hot, they’d win. But more times than not, they weren’t and lost.

Now, everything changes with that trade. The Magic might not be quite the same team defensively, but it won’t matter. Now they have guys who can create and open things up.

This is why tomorrow’s battle between the Celtics and Magic is the game that truly matters. It’s a must-see regular season game with playoff implications because this is the measuring stick game for the Magic. 

Sure, they’re only four games into the new roster and it will take time for them to gel, but the Magic just rolled the red hot San Antonio Spurs last night.

That means there is a good chance the game tomorrow will be a knock-down-drag-out fight. That’s why tomorrow’s first game is all that really counts. 

Will the Celtics continue to dominate their Eastern Conference rival or will the Magic’s bold trade start paying dividends right out of the gate?

I for one will be watching and waiting to see what happens. 

Then, of course, I’ll get some snacks, grab more beer and watch the Lakers-Heat game for pure entertainment. 

Because, that is exactly what that second game is. Just for fun.

Want to learn the details of Kobe Bryant’s legendary work ethic? Or why Kobe considers himself a “talented overachiever” or an “outcast” for much of his life? Check out the new book, The Kobe Code: Eight Principles For Success- An Insider's Look into Kobe Bryant's Warrior Life & the Code He Lives By, at www.PatMixon.com.


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