It’s Christmas time, which means not only gifts and a great dinner, but also a full plate of amazing basketball games. While I won’t be giving a very elaborate overview of each game, I’ll provide some information about how each team has been doing as of late and some match-ups to watch out for.
Boston Celtics at Brooklyn Nets (12:00):
- How have they been?: The first game of the afternoon features two teams with proven stars, big markets, and slow starts. Entering the year, Brooklyn was supposed to wow us with their star power and Boston was supposed to grind out wins with veteran leadership and bench depth. While neither team’s season has gone as planned, both are still quality teams with at least a .500 record.
- How do they match-up?: Paul Pierce has been on a roll, scoring over 30 in his last two games. And Boston is full of quality players in their starting rotation. But despite preseason talk about Boston’s depth, I think that Brooklyn might have a better bench. And despite Deron Williams struggles, Brooklyn isn’t exactly lacking of star power either. Expect Brooklyn, a top ten rebounding team, to dominate Boston on the boards, who is bottom five. That’ll be the difference.
- Prediction: Brooklyn Nets
New York Knicks at Los Angeles Lakers (3:00):
- How have they been?: The Knicks have been one the league’s biggest surprises, running an offense based on sharing that runs against what every narrative said was possible with Carmelo Anthony as an offensive centerpiece. They are one of the league’s best teams. The Lakers were supposed to be a super team this season after acquiring Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, but have been inconsistent with Nash out with injury. However, they are coming off a big win against the Golden State Warriors. How they play the Knicks will be a big indicator of whether the Lakers are back, or still as inconsistent as ever.
- How do they match-up?: Maybe Nash puts some step back into the Lakers they didn’t have before, but I think this is a bad matchup for the Los Angeles. I don’t think Metta World Peace can guard Melo and the Lakers bench is just too thin to match up against the Knicks reserves.
- Prediction: New York Knicks
Oklahoma City Thunder at Miami Heat (5:30):
- How have they been?: Only two of the best teams in the league. The Oklahoma City Thunder was on a 12 game win streak before losing to the Minnesota Timberwolves. And Miami has won 6 of its last 7. It looks very likely that these teams might once again meet in the finals.
- How do they match-up?: Both teams look a little different from the last time they faced off against each other. The Heat have Ray Allen and Dwayne Wade isn’t playing like his usual self, while the Thunder traded James Harden for Kevin Martin. But both are still incredible teams. I basically give this game a coin toss, but I lean OKC.
- Prediction: Oklahoma City Thunder
Houston Rockets at Chicago Bulls (8:00):
- How have they been?: The Houston Rockets made moves this offseason, acquiring Jeremy Lin and James Harden. In contrast, the Bulls have been defined by their lack of a star, with Derrick Rose still out with injury. Both have ended up in the same place, slightly over .500, with the Bulls owning a slightly better record than the Rockets.
- How do they match up?: I don’t think the Bulls are going to score much, so this game is going to almost certainly come down to the Bulls, who have the second best defense in the league, and their ability to contain Harden led offense. And the relative weakness of the Bulls defense, the 3-point shot, is a very large strength for this Houston team.
- Prediction: Houston Rockets
Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Clippers (10:30):
- How have they been?: The Nuggets, with the acquisition of Andre Igudala, were primed to be one of the best teams in the West. However, lack of shooting has doomed them, relegating them to a middle of the pack playoff team. The Clippers, however, have jumped out to become one of the best teams in the league, and are currently riding a 13 game win streak.
- How do they match up?: The Nuggets biggest problem is that The Clippers are basically a better version of the Nuggets. The Nuggets have an athletic but boneheaded center in Javale McGee? The Clippers have DeAndre Jordan. A power forward that can jump out of the gym in Kenneth Faried? The Clippers have Blake Griffin. The Nuggets have bench depth? The Clippers have Jamal Crawford and Eric Bledsoe. The Nuggets have a dynamic point guard in Ty Lawson? Please. The Clippers have the one and only Chris Paul. It’s a tale of everything you can do, I can do better.
- Prediction: Los Angeles Clippers