Christmas Day, the time of a giving and of course NBA basketball. Rookies will be lacing up for the first time under a big spotlight with the whole world watching. This is a time for rookies to show what they can do on a big stage.
For the teams not chosen, it’s obviously disappointing because they cannot play on such a special day and in front of the whole world. This year, the matchups should not disappoint as we have five games to celebrate the holiday.
76ers vs Knicks
Time: 12 pm ET
The Knicks come into this game 17-15 while the 76ers come in struggling with a 14-18 record, winning just 1 of their last 10 games. Michael Beasley put up career numbers 2 games ago when he dropped 32 points in an impressive Knicks win over the Celtics.
Porzingis aka ‘Porzingod’ looks to bounce back after a 1 point outing 2 games ago against the Celtics and go back to his form from earlier in the season. The 76ers have been struggling without Embiid, but with Embiid in their lineup, they are a significantly better team. Simmons and Embiid provide a big mismatch against the opposing team’s frontcourt because of their versatility and ability to shoot or drive and finish at the backup.
I expect this match to be decided on how each teams front court plays.
Player Matchup to Watch: Porzingis and Kanter vs. Simmons and Embiid
Prediction: Knicks 98 – 104 76ers
Cavaliers vs Warriors
Time: 3 PM ET
A Finals rematch. The Cavaliers have won 18 of their last 20 games while the Warriors have won 12 of their last 14 games. I cannot wait to watch Tristan Thompson vs. Zaza Pachulia and Patrick McCaw vs. Jose Calderon. No, but in all seriousness, I cannot wait to watch two of the best players in the world go at it: LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant.
James is looking to get revenge after Durant essentially ended the Finals when he nailed a three-pointer in LeBron’s eye. James has been on a tear this season while Durant has been struggling shooting recently. Both teams are suffering injuries at the point guard position, leaving this matchup relatively even. This matchup will come down to the bench play.
Player Matchup to Watch: LeBron James vs Kevin Durant
Prediction: Cavaliers 110 -105 Warriors
Wizards vs Celtics
Time: 5:30 PM ET
A rivalry that has always ignited fights, trash talk and wearing all black to the games. The Wizards are looking to get revenge after losing in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during last year’s playoffs.
The Celtics have won 22 of their last 24 games and are on top of the East and NBA as they have the best record. The Wizards have been very disappointing as they sit in 7th place in the East. A great backcourt matchup to watch will be Bradley Beal and John Wall vs. Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown.
Wall and Beal look to get back to their original form after being in a slump the last couple games, while Irving continues his MVP caliber season and Brown continues making his case for Most Improved Player with a strong sophomore season. This matchup will come down to their frontcourt play.
Player Matchup to Watch: John Wall vs. Kyrie Irving
Prediction: Wizards 95 – 109 Celtics
Rockets vs Thunder
Time: 8 PM ET
The Thunder look to get revenge after losing 4-2 against the Rockets in the playoffs. James Harden has been on fire lately putting up 51 points in back-to-back games. The Rockets will need to find a way to get it done without CP3 as they have struggled without him.
On the Thunder’s side of things, the Thunder look to continue to build up momentum after winning 5 of their last seven games (The Thunder have been very inconsistent this season so seeing this is a good sign for Thunder fans). Carmelo Anthony should be looking to finally have a breakout game in a Thunder uniform. This matchup comes down to bench play.
Player Matchup to Watch: Paul George vs. James Harden
Prediction: Rockets 108 – 116 Thunder
Timberwolves vs Lakers
Time: 10:30 PM ET
This is a great test for a young Lakers team. Kyle Kuzma continues to make a case for Rookie Of the Year after putting 20 points in 5 of their last 6 games. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope looks to finally have a big breakout game in a Lakers uniform after being very disappointing the last couple games.
Jimmy Butler has even unstoppable the last three games putting up 37, 25, and 37 points, respectively. Andrew Wiggins looks to get back to his original form from earlier in the season after scoring less than 20 points in their last 4 games. Karl-Anthony Towns will look to have a field day with Andrew Bogut guarding him. This matchup comes down to whether the Lakers can stop KAT.
Player Matchup to Watch: KCP vs. Jimmy Butler
Prediction: Timberwolves 110 – 115 Lakers UPSETTTTT