It’s almost Christmas! The greatest gift of all is the fact that there are five NBA games in a row on national television. Er, I mean, it’s spending the day with loved ones, duh. And hopefully watching basketball all day. One year, I drank White Russians with my family all day and watched every game. It was awesome. Let me break down what we have to look forward to…
GAME #1: 76ers at Knicks
When: 12 PM EST
Where to watch: ESPN
What to expect: Honestly, I’m super excited for this game. Two young teams with crazy talented players going at it, yes please. The Knicks currently occupy the 8th spot in the Eastern Conference, while the 76ers aren’t far behind in the 10th spot. The Knicks haven’t been looking half bad lately, getting W’s over both Boston and Oklahoma City. Michael Beasley has been going nuts, and Porzingis’ knee soreness seems to have subsided so he should be completely healthy. Philadelphia, on the other hand, has been struggling quite a bit lately, losing 9 of their last 10 games. This includes losses to the Suns and the Bulls so, yeah, not great. That being said, they have been without Joel Embiid. He returned Saturday in the loss against Toronto. Hopefully, his back will be feeling better by Monday and we’ll see a great show put on by The Unicorn and The Process. That sounds like the title of the best children’s book ever.
Who I think will win: Knicks
GAME #2: Cavaliers at Warriors
When: 3 PM EST
Where to watch: ABC
What to expect: This is the third straight year we’ve seen this matchup and Christmas Day, and I’m not complaining. This game will be quite different from the two previous years – no Irving, and most likely, no Curry. The Cavaliers have won 18 of their last 20 games, after a questionable start (I was never worried). They’ll also be rested, as they won’t have played a game since Thursday. Unfortunately, Isaiah Thomas will not be making his season debut Christmas Day, but he has been warming up with the team. The Warriors were looking ugly in their last game against the Denver Nuggets, shooting only 39% (11.1% from 3) in the 96-81 loss. They’ll be without Steph, yes, but they’re still the Warriors. The home team has won the past two Christmas Day matchups between these two teams – we’ll see if the tradition continues (I hope not).
Who I think will win: Cavaliers
GAME #3: Wizards at Celtics
When: 5:30 PM EST
Where to watch: ABC
What to expect: The Celtics are still number one in the Eastern Conference, but they have certainly been struggling as of late. Marcus Morris has been out with a knee injury but it’s hopeful he’ll return against the Wizards. My boy, Jaylen Brown, just returned in Saturday’s game against the Bulls from an Achilles’ injury. His return should certainly open rotation options for Stevens. I have no idea what to expect from the Wizards, honestly. They’ve been all over the place. I’ve watched them tank in completely absurd blowout losses against the Brooklyn Nets and the Utah Jazz – that shouldn’t be happening with this Wizards team. John Wall hasn’t been 100%, which is certainly the biggest part of it. He missed two weeks, and simply hasn’t been as efficient on offense as we know him to be. There was no restriction on minutes for Wall on Saturday against the Magic, which is a great sign. This game has the potential to be super fun to watch, or a complete blowout. I’m not sure which it’ll be yet.
Who I think will win: Celtics
GAME #4: Rockets at Thunder
When: 8 PM EST
Where to watch: ABC
What to expect: Expect James Harden and Russell Westbrook to out-MVP each other. Okay, but seriously, James Harden is coming off two consecutive 50+ point games. He means business. Those two games both ended up being losses for the Rockets (to the Lakers and the Clippers…yikes), so there’s certainly a chance for the Thunder to steal a W against the red-hot Rockets. I haven’t read anything about whether or not Chris Paul will be returning for this matchup, which will also play a huge factor in how the game plays out. I think Westbrook is going to bring his A+ game and show Harden why he won MVP over him last year.
Who I think will win: Thunder
GAME #5: Timberwolves at Lakers
When: 10:30 EST
Where to watch: TNT
What to expect: Another battle of two teams with super talented, young players. The Timberwolves are boasting their best record at this point in the season since 2003. They also haven’t made a postseason appearance since that season, but I have a feeling that’s going to change. The youngsters on the team have been stepping it up, and trading for Jimmy Butler has proven to be a brilliant move. At the start of the season, he was contributing a ton on defense (claaaaassic Jimmy) but was rather quiet on the offensive end. But not now, uh-uh. In the past 10 games, Butler has averaged 25.7 points and 5.1 assists. There he is. The Lakers have been showing more promise lately, as well. They lost in a valiant, overtime effort against the Golden State Warriors and beat the Houston Rockets in the same week! You guys already know how I feel about Kyle Kuzma. Before Saturday’s game against Portland, Kuzma had scored 27, 38, and 25 points in the previous three games. Lonzo Ball has been the butt of lots of jokes this season, but he’s shown great improvement recently. His shots have been falling, and he’s been showing us the player the Lakers drafted second overall. More importantly, did you guys see that he’s on an episode of Fuller House? WTF?
Who I think will win: Timberwolves
HAPPY HOLIDAYS, ya filthy animals!