NBA Christmas Games
AARON GASH, ASSOCIATED PRESS

I LOVE NBA CHRISTMAS GAMES. There’s no better way to spend the day after opening up presents and spending time with family than watching basketball. Here is a preview of the games as well as a little analysis on the best games and the best matchups to watch out for.

Celtics @ Raptors

First of all, it is a disgrace that this game isn’t in the TD Garden or “The Garden”. But other than that, this game is looking better than it was going to be when it was first announced. This is our first game of the NBA Christmas games schedule. The Celtics have proved they belong with the 76ers and Bucks as the Eastern Conferences best teams. Their core of Marcus Smart, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, and Kemba Walker is one of the best in the league. Although they lack a big man, they don’t seemingly need one.

However, that doesn’t mean the Raptors are nothing to sleep on ever. Pascal Siakam is earning his new shiny contract and is already putting his name for ANOTHER Most Improved Player award. He would be the first to win it back to back. Instead of fading into irrelevancy once Kawhi Leonard left, the Raptors have found a promising duo in Fred VanVleet, who deserves more respect, and Pascal Siakam. I’ve also been a big fan of OG Anuoby, if he can develop, their core is promising. This game is going to be better than when they first announced it. But the Raptors have a plethora of injuries they are dealing with at the moment. It’ll be hard to keep up with the Celtics because of that.

I’m taking the Boston Celtics to win this game.

Bucks @ 76ers

On our list of Christmas games, this one is by far the best one. Giannis has led this Bucks team to the 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. The next team closest to them is the Celtics 5 games behind. Khris Middleton has proved that he can be a reliable second scoring option and well, Giannis is still Giannis. I’m a bit surprised they are doing so well, as I had the 76ers ending up having a better record than the Bucks. However, Giannis has made improvements in his game and the team is balanced outside of him.

The 76ers are good, I just thought they would be better. They’re 5.5 games behind the Bucks for 1st place but so are 4 other teams. As expected, there are questions about spacing and shooting on this team, but their defense is top-notch. They have to size to stop ALMOST everyone. Giannis isn’t just anyone though, they will have to stop him to have a better chance to win this game. Secondly, they need to be able to score. The 76ers just play better when Tobias Harris is scoring the ball. The floor is more spaced for Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. I think they will limit Giannis the best they can, but ultimately, their offense will limit them

Bucks win this one, but it’s a close classic Christmas game.

Rockets @ Warriors

This game had so much potential to be a great Christmas game, but it will be disappointing. Ever since Steph Curry got hurt, the Warriors are horrendous. Sure, their one bad rebuild year will make them better next year. But this game is just a game on TV that shouldn’t have been televised. It’s not the NBA fault though, they didn’t know that Steph Curry would get injured. Now we get to watch Eric Paschall and D’Angelo Russell try their best against the Rockets.

The Rockets have too much talent for the Warriors. While James Harden and Russell Westbrook deserve to be on the Christmas schedule, this was just bad timing. The Rockets should smash the Warriors and James Harden might score a ton of points for a Christmas special. Add that with an electrifying Westbrook, this game will be filled with highlights despite a possible blowout. I hate blowouts for Christmas games, but that is what you’ll get here.

Rockets win this one easily.

Clippers @ Lakers

This is another game that WOULD be good…if not for the injuries to Lebron James and Anthony Davis. Both are doubtful to play, and it puts a real damper on could be one of the best Christmas games ever. It’s obvious that the Lakers aren’t good without Lebron and AD (hey it’s like I told yall that). With Kawhi and Paul George looking to play, this should be an easy game for the Clippers. They beat the Lakers at full strength at the beginning of the season. The Clippers are just too deep for the Lakers to win without at least one of their stars.

The Lakers don’t have anyone reliable after Lebron and AD. Javale McGee and Dwight Howard are stay-in-the-paint guys, whether it is on offense or defense. They provide no spacing at all and only catch alley-oops. Kyle Kuzma hasn’t had a breakout year as he was expected to have. Other than that, this team is either washed or trash. All this game does is prove how valuable Lebron and AD are to the Lakers. Then you’re wondering how did they get a good record then? Have you seen their schedule for the first 20 games? The NBA gave them an easy schedule. I’ve said it time and time again, you need a bench to win in the playoffs. The Lakers don’t have a reliable bench. This game should be treated as a playoff game because if they want a title, they’ll need to go through the Clippers eventually. This team is booty cheeks and you’ll see it on Christmas.

Clippers win this one in a blowout.

Pelicans @ Nuggets

This is the last game for the NBA Christmas games schedule. Once again, this game looks really good on paper at the beginning of the season, and now it’s just a disappointing game. 1. Zion Williamson is supposed to be playing already, and he hasn’t. He is already having knee issues. Whether it is because of his weight, I don’t know, all I do know is that he isn’t playing. 2. This team isn’t playing as well as most people thought. Outside of Jrue Holiday and Brandon Ingram, no one on this team is contributing. Now they’re a bottom 5 team in the NBA. People thought this team was a borderline playoff team and now that couldn’t be further from the truth.

The Nuggets, on the other hand, are where most people had them. They’re the second seed in the Western Conference right now. With not many changes to their roster and adding Jerami Grant to their team, this team is already better than last year. I’m a big fan of this team and Nikola Jokic. The Nuggets should absolutely blow out the Pelicans this game. With Jrue Holiday and Brandon Ingram, there are chances for some highlights, but this game is already over before it has even begun.

Nuggets win this game.

All in all, this lineup for NBA Christmas games had plenty of potential to be great but it is now disappointing. The only two games worth watching are the first two. Even then I’m not sure, with the Raptors injuries, there might not be enough players for them to win. If Lebron and/or Anthony Davis plays, that is another game that is watchable for sure. But if it was up to me and you could only watch one game, watch the 76ers and Bucks game.

Ranking the games in order with the current circumstances:

  1. Bucks @ 76ers
  2. Celtics @ Raptors
  3. Clippers @ Lakers
  4. Rockets @ Warriors
  5. Pelicans @ Nuggets

NBA SHORTS ON YOUTUBE, CHECK THEM OUT