Breaking Down and Predicting the Slew of Christmas Day NBA Games
It’s that time of the year again!
When Toronto Raptor fans get angry and rest of the NBA world continues to look past it. Tomorrow, is Christmas day after all, which means no Raptor games and a slew of high-profile matchups that kick off at noon and continue up until the late hours of the night. The Los Angeles Lakers take on the defending champions, the Philadelphia Sixers look to take out the Celtics, while the Jazz play host to the Blazers in a game which will close out the day’s festivities.
How will each game play out? Which teams will enjoy their Christmas days? BallnRoll has you covered with all of your breakdowns and predictions!
Milwaukee Bucks at New York Knicks (12:00 PM EST)
The Christmas festivities begin with the Milwaukee Bucks visiting The Mecca, Madison Square Garden.
While the Bucks have seemed revitalized since the hiring of head coach Mike Budenholzer, the New York Knicks have considered their decline, currently occupying the second last spot in the Eastern Conference standings. The Bucks are looking to compete this year, while the Knicks, in the absence of star Kristaps Porzingis, are hoping to get younger and develop the pieces that will ideally elevate them to contention in the not too distant future.
That being said, in Tuesdays bout, one team will sure-handedly outmatch the other and the Giannis Antetokounmpo factor will prove to be too much for the Knicks to handle.
- Prediction: Bucks (-10.0)
Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets (3:00 PM EST)
As the Houston Rockets finally begin to get things rolling, they lose superstar point guard Chris Paul indefinitely to a hamstring problem.
To help buffer the injury, the team brought in Austin Rivers to provide some firepower off the bench. That being said, James Harden remains the focal point of the offence. The bearded star leads the league in scoring, averaging 32 points per game, while dishing out 8.4 assists and grabbing down 5.7 rebounds a night. As a unit, the Rockets take a lot of threes (1st in the NBA) and miss a lot of threes (19th in the NBA in 3 PT%), but if the shots fall, they are a very tough team to slow down.
Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Thunder have very quietly been witnessing an MVP-type season from none other than Paul George. Averaging a team-high 26.2 points a night, George, alongside Russell Westbrook have been pushing a 21-11 Thunder team up the Western Conference ladder.
The Thunder can play on the road, have a league-leading defensive rating, and are a team that can run – all of which doesn’t bode well with a Houston team attempting to overcome a devastating injury.
- Prediction: Thunder (+1.5)
Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics (5:30 PM EST)
As the Boston Celtics continue to soar up the standings, albeit still dealing with internal issues, they run into a team that has struggled to overmatch them, especially at TD Gardens.
For the Philadelphia 76ers, the Celtics happen to be their kryptonite and with the addition of Jimmy Butler, they will attempt to finally deliver vengeance. In a battle of two Eastern Conference powerhouses, it is fair to anticipate a back-and-forth, highly-contested game. With that in mind, the Celtics continue take advantage of matchups each time they square off with the Sixers. With their ability to slow the pace down and use their physicality to overwhelm the Sixers, look for the Celtics to continue their dominance over Philly.
- Predictions: Celtics (-4.0)
Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State Warriors (8:30 PM EST)
The Los Angeles Lakers have been playing relatively well of late and now arrive to their greatest challenge to date.
Meanwhile, the Golden State Warriors have had an up-and-down season in which they essentially show up whenever a new challenge of interest presents itself. It’s Christmas day, LeBron James is coming into their house, and in a nationally televised spectacle, the Warriors will most definitely be looking to arrive to The Oracle chomping at the bit to take care of business in front of their home crowd.
In a matchup between two high-powered offences, it will be the Warriors abundance of weapons that will overcome The King and his Lakers. It may come down to the wire, but the two-time defending NBA champions will find a way to pull it out.
- Predictions: Lakers (+9.0)
Portland Trailblazers at Utah Jazz (10:30 PM EST)
To wrap up what will surely be a very entertaining slew of games, the Portland Trailblazers visit a scuffling Utah Jazz club.
The Jazz have are attempting to very quickly right the ship that has been their disappointing start to the season, while the Portland Trailblazers will look to solve their road woes. Despite the Blazers’ lacklustre play away from home, Damian Lillard has been the star of the show, leading the Blazers averaging 27.2 points a night. Meanwhile, after an outstanding rookie season, Donovan Mitchell has been going through a bit of a sophomore slump, struggling with shooting the basketball.
In a game between to playoff aspiring teams and a matchup between elite guards, Tuesday night’s contest may come down to the defensive side of the ball. Despite their struggles, the Jazz are ranked top-five in defensive rating and as they get set to go up against a struggling road team, expect Utah to pull out a nail-biter.
- Predictions: Blazers (+6.5)