Merry Christmas to all and to all an awesome NBA holiday offering. With five games on tap for today starting at noon, many basketball nerds like myself will be fixated on televisions for nearly 12 hours with some family time sprinkled in between (I kid, somewhat). Stop by occasionally throughout the day to offer your thoughts on the day’s proceedings whether it be a potential Rondo or LeBron triple double, Carmelo/KD/Kobe going for 40+ or Blake Griffin putting an innocent Nugget on a poster.
Each game comes with a preview, betting line for those participating in the always entertaining Christmas Day wagers with a drunk uncle and/or cousin and a must-see individual matchup with a predicted stat line. Those numbers will more than likely prove to be anything but accurate, but they’re icebreakers nonetheless. Again, Merry Christmas to everyone out there. Enjoy this day with your loved ones and be sure to tell the family Tins says hello.
Boston Celtics (13-13) @ Brooklyn Nets (14-12)
Time: 12:00 p.m. EST
Line: Brooklyn (-3.5)
Both teams enter Christmas Day on a downward spirals. Boston finds itself still in the process of establishing a consistent rotation and 1-4 in their last five games. Meanwhile, the Nets are the owners of a 3-8 record in December. That said, the leadoff game of a quintuple header is star player-laden. The last time these two teams squared off in Beantown Rajon Rondo’s double-digit assist streak came to a halt after after confronting Kris Humphries for what he perceived to be a bush league foul on Kevin Garnett. And Paul Pierce did a face dive all thanks to Smokin’ Joe Johnson. Expect no love to be lost, especially with the entire country having one eye on gifts and the other on halfcourt.
Must-See TV: Deron Williams (23 pts, 10 asts, 6 rebs, 3 stls) vs. Rajon Rondo (16 pts, 19 asts, 12 rebounds, 3 stls). And, of course, the obligatory Jay-Z and Beyonce sighting with the outside possibility of them even bringing Blue Ivy. I’ll have to check Vegas and see what the line is on that.
New York Knicks (20-7) @ Los Angeles Lakers (13-14)
Time: 3:00 p.m. EST
Line: Los Angeles (-3.5)
The last time Kobe Bryant took the floor Saturday night at Golden State, he hoisted the rock 41 times. Who knows what he has planned for a nationally televised game when he knows all eyes are fixated on Hollywood. In case you don’t know by now, this game features the NBA’s top two scorers in Bean and Carmelo Anthony, making it only the third time in NBA history the feat will occur on Christmas Day. Today also presents the first true litmus test for this slowly, but surely healing Lakers squad with Steve Nash back at the point.
One thing to monitor is if the Lakers allows the two-time MVP to operate the offense out of his hands, or if Kobe stays in gunner mode somehow convincing himself it’s 2006 all over again. Another dynamic to pay attention to is Tyson Chandler vs. Dwight Howard. Remember, Dwight not too long ago suggested Tyson only won Defensive Player of the Year last year off the strength everyone hated him for the Orlando fiasco. He was right about half of that.
On a real life note, however, much, much respect to Amar’e Stoudemire for playing Santa this year to a New York family in need. All jokes aside, 2012 has been one hell of a roller coast for Stat, both on and off the court. No word yet on his status.
Must-See TV: Kobe Bryant (31 pts, 7 rebs, 6 asts) vs. Carmelo Anthony (34 pts, 8 rebs, 5 asts); J.R. Smith in L.A. in front of America has “awesome” written all over it, too.
Oklahoma City Thunder (21-5) @ Miami Heat (18-6)
Time: 5:30 p.m. EST
Line: Miami (-2.5)
A rematch of the 2012 Finals, the Thunder return to the scene of the crime arguably a better team than when they left. There’s not much hype required for a game featuring six players arguably in the top 25 and the two best in LeBron James and Kevin Durant. The Heat’s defense has appeared to turn the corner taking more of an identity of last year’s squad by not allowing an opponent over 100 points since the Knicks kicked their teeth in December 6. Both teams respect the magnitude of what’s seen as a statement game some month-and-a-half before the All Star break. Oklahoma City is out for blood proving last June is just that, in the past. Miami, on the other hand, understands exactly what OKC is out to confirm in front of a national audience. After all, they were in this exact same scenario this time 365 days ago in Dallas.
Must-See TV: LeBron James (33 pts, 12 rebs, 9 asts, 4 stls, 2 blks) Vs. Kevin Durant (38 pts, 10 rebs, 5 asts, 2 blks)
Houston Rockets (14-12) @ Chicago Bulls (15-11)
Time: 8:00 p.m. EST
Line: Chicago (-4.5)
With Houston being a personal favorite to watch this season for a variety of reasons – the arrival and spectacular play of James Harden and me being America’s biggest Chandler Parsons fan – I can’t help but shake the feeling this game would be a lot more anticipated if a certain point guard was suiting up. Regardless, the Bulls have been playing damn good basketball as of late now finding themselves at first in the Central Division. Friday’s fourth game features the NBA highest scoring offense in Houston (105.4/game) against the third best defense (91.0/game). Something has to give, and if we’re lucky Carlos Boozer will don the head paint again.
Also, this would’ve been a joke maybe six months ago, but I’m actually interested to see how Omer Asik fairs in his return to the United Center.
Must-See TV: Omer Asik (16 pts, 16 rebs)* vs. Joakim Noah (20 pts, 12 rebounds, 7 asts, 2 blks); Harden, the league’s fourth leading scorer, ends up with 24-7-4.
* – All dependent on if he’s gotten over the flu bug which is apparently sweeping the entire NBA these days.
Denver Nuggets (15-13) @ Los Angeles Clippers (21-6)
Time: 10:30 p.m. EST
Line: Los Angeles (-7.0)
Times have really changed when the Clippers are not only the hottest team in Los Angeles, but the hottest team in the league period. Riding a 13 game winning streak and 9-3 home record on the season, CP3, Blake and the crew seem to have all the advantages heading to the tail-end game of a five game slate. Denver’s 7-12 mark on the road, and that pesky issue of never having a legitimate primary scorer always seems to be the Nuggets Achilles Heel. It’s the sole reason why believing in Denver comes with its own set of limitations. At they’re best, the Nuggets are fun as hell to watch though.
Then again, when JaVale McGee’s on your squad, anything is possible. Anything. I’m only halfway joking on that.
Must-See TV: Blake Griffin (22 pts, 13 rebs, 4 asts) Vs. Kenneth Faried (14 pts, 13 rebs, 2 blks)