The holidays are here and that means food, drugstore family and football. No wait, this is Christmas and that means food, family and BASKETBALL. It’s easy to get confused because Christmas is to the NBA what Thanksgiving is the NFL. An annual tradition that dates back to 1947 of all day basketball folly. In 2011, the slate of games grew to 5, tipping off at 11am, and has stayed as large and as long ever since.
This year we’re looking at anything and everything from coast to coast match ups, a Finals rematch (or preview), East vs. West face-offs, and a Staples Center showdown, all complete with the requisite NBA Christmas uniforms, which I am not mad about this year.
If you’re looking to pick and choose when to watch vs. when to eat, sleep or spend time with the fam, here’s the game by game rundown.
11am CT New Orleans at Miami
A match up of the somewhat surprisingly intriguing Heat vs. the under performing Pelicans. The Brow is always a fun watch and seeing him take on Hassan Whiteside in the paint shouldn’t disappoint. But New Orleans is ravaged by injuries and an inability to adjust to the new coaching staff. While I’m much more partial to New Orleans for eating, drinking and dancing, I’d pick Miami in this one.
1:30pm CT Chicago at OKC
The NBA so wanted Derrick Rose vs. Russell Westbrook to mean what it used to. Unfortunately three knee surgeries has taken its toll on one much more than the other. Despite this, the Bulls beat the Thunder earlier in the season behind a great game from Rose, who has since lost his facemask, the height of his hair, and his shot. Both teams are playing under new head coaches who made the jump from college ball, but OKC is surging, while the Bulls count their lucky playoffs stars that they’re in the East. I want to take the Bulls to turn it around and bring this one home because they always seem to surprise me on Christmas but without Joakim Noah, I have little faith this holiday season.
4pm CT Cleveland at Golden State
Get out the eggnog early because this is going to be good. You can call it a Finals rematch or a Finals preview, but the top teams in each conference are at full strength with Cleveland seeing the return of Kyrie Irving this week, and they’re about to go at it. Golden State boasts one of the best crowds in the NBA, who have been getting to games an hour early just see Steph Curry warm up. And Lebron, well he’s mad. Golden State makes history with every win so I’m picking the Warriors, if only to hope for a Riley Curry sighting at the post game press conference.
7:00pm CT San Antonio at Houston
Eat dinner quickly so you can be on the couch for an in-state battle of two completely opposite teams. The Spurs quietly have the second best record in the NBA with only two less wins than the Warriors. Pop is still sitting during games since it’s not April, and Kawhi Leonard shows us nightly how much bigger, stronger and faster he is than other top shooting guards in the league. He’ll face another one in James Harden on Friday, but Harden’s Rockets have not done anything quietly this season. Already working with an interim head coach and Dwight Howard trade rumors, the Rockets have been incredibly mediorcre so far, and outright bad at times. They are however coming off of a 3 game win streak and have the talent to put on a show at home. But if NBA fans know one thing, it’s to never bet against the Spurs.
9:00pm CT Los Angeles at Los Angeles
Many family Christmas gatherings may be able to relate to this match up – two passive aggressive siblings, living under the same roof, cut from the same cloth, with so little in common on any level. On one end of the floor, the Lakers are a mess. In the midst of the Kobe retirement tour, they boast two young stars in the making in Randle and Russell, who go in and out of the lineup for no apparent reason. Kobe may score 34 points, or he may have 3 or 4 air balls. Meanwhile, the Clippers are as good as they’ve ever been, but it doesn’t look to be good enough. Their team is filled with controversial players who have never made it quite as far as they should have, and it doesn’t look like they ever will after the first few months of the season. Kobe will be looking to go out with a bang in his 16th Christmas game, but I’d still take the Clippers to use the holiday to get their season back on track, as they continue to chase the shadow of the Warriors.
And that’s a wrap on Santa’s gift to all NBA fans this year. Wishing you a very merry NBA Christmas, from our SDI family to yours!