Christmas is the sooner or later that many individuals sit up for annually. There are vacation traditions, spending time with household, presents from Santa, and a lot extra. Simply as youngsters take pleasure in the entire magic that Christmas morning brings, basketball followers rejoice with a beautiful slate of NBA video games to fill the remainder of the day.
One spotlight annually is when the schedules are launched and the matchups on Christmas Day are revealed. These typically characteristic the highest groups within the league, with loads of star energy that includes the likes of LeBron James, Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, and so forth. There’ll nonetheless be loads of that on Saturday however many All-Star gamers is not going to be suiting up on Christmas.
A combination of accidents and gamers in Well being and Security Protocols will put a damper on a few of these matchups, however the video games ought to nonetheless be attention-grabbing to look at. As groups jockey for place within the convention standings, organizations are additionally conserving tabs on what gamers they wish to goal because the February 10 commerce deadline looms.
Basketball Insiders has ranked the 5 video games on the schedule and predicts a Christmas Day winner for every.
5. Hawks @ Knicks (12 PM ET on ESPN)
This primary-round playoff rematch from final season doesn’t precisely pack the identical punch, however it is going to nonetheless be enjoyable to have a Christmas sport at Madison Sq. Backyard. There was nice anticipation to see Trae Younger again in New York after his feedback final yr however that gained’t be occurring. Younger entered the Well being and Security protocols on Sunday and can probably miss this matchup between two underwhelming groups. Atlanta may even be with out Danilo Gallinari and Clint Capela on Saturday.
Atlanta Hawks heart Clint Capela has entered the league’s Covid protocols too, sources inform ESPN. The Hawks are probably with out him, Trae Younger and Gallinari on Christmas Day vs. the Knicks. https://t.co/QnBUabtFs4
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 21, 2021
The Knicks and Hawks have each regressed this season, and are on the surface wanting in in relation to the playoff image. Atlanta has handled a ton of accidents and New York has some main weaknesses on protection. They have been third in protection final yr however this season they’re twenty third within the league. Atlanta has signed Lance Stephenson however with so many key gamers out of this sport, it could have a preseason vibe to it.
Prediction: New York hangs on for an in depth victory, though it gained’t be fairly.
4. Mavericks @ Jazz (10:30 PM on ESPN)
Apart from each residing within the Western Convention, the one two issues these groups have in widespread is elite guard play. Luka Doncic and Donovan Mitchell will present loads of spotlight performs on Saturday, ought to the Mavs have their star participant out there. Dallas may have their fingers full on the street as Rudy Gobert and Mike Conley are main difference-makers, and their presence shall be felt on this one.
Rudy Gobert tonight:
He’s averaging 15.1 PPG, 14.8 RPG, 73.8 FG% — he’s on tempo to grow to be the primary participant in NBA historical past to common 15/10 on 70% taking pictures in a single season. pic.twitter.com/7BHndsf7Hb
— StatMuse (@statmuse) December 21, 2021
Doncic has admittedly been struggling along with his conditioning this season, however hopes to be again after lacking a handful of video games with an injured ankle. The Mavericks may also be with out Kristaps Porzingis, who has been coping with a sore proper toe. Tim Hardaway Jr has already been dominated out. Dallas ranks twenty first in offense and the Jazz are an awesome defensive group that additionally boasts the league’s top-ranked offense. These two groups appear to be headed in several instructions.
Prediction: Utah makes an announcement with a blowout win on their house ground.
3. Celtics @ Bucks (2:30 PM on ABC)
The defending champions shall be internet hosting Boston in one other Japanese Convention battle. All eyes shall be on Giannis Antetokounmpo, as he’s nearing a return to motion. If the star ahead is ready to return, the Celtics will attempt to sluggish him down utilizing a mix of Jayson Tatum and Jalen Brown, which shall be thrilling to look at. The Bucks ought to have Jrue Vacation and Khris Middleton within the lineup, which ought to give them the sting on this one.
No Bucks have entered or exited the well being and security protocols, Mike Budenholzer confirms.
Meaning Giannis, Portis, DiVincenzo and Matthews are nonetheless in protocol.
“We really feel like we’re about to show the nook,” Bud mentioned about their statuses.
— Stephen Watson (@WISN_Watson) December 21, 2021
Boston has been combating simply to stay within the playoff image within the East, whereas Milwaukee has dropped just a few spots taking part in with out the two-time MVP. The Celtics have been particularly poor on the street, which doesn’t bode properly for his or her possibilities of profitable on Saturday. With Al Horford in protocols, Boston will certainly want the providers of Robert Williams, if he is ready to go. Even when Giannis just isn’t in a position to play, Milwaukee ought to have sufficient at house.
Prediction: Milwaukee flexes their muscle and pulls away late on this one.
2. Nets @ Lakers (8 PM on ABC/ESPN)
Think about how exhilarating this sport could be if each groups have been utterly wholesome. That was the thought course of when the league scheduled this sport, however sadly, that won’t be the case this Christmas. Brooklyn has had its roster decimated with gamers in Well being and Security Protocols. This would come with their “massive three” of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving. The Nets have already had a number of video games postponed after not having sufficient out there gamers.
Very quietly, the Nets are again as much as #6 in defensive ranking, per Cleansing the Glass.
— Matt Brooks (@MattBrooksNBA) December 21, 2021
There was a slim likelihood of Irving taking part in this sport in Los Angeles however he has joined his teammates in protocols. Regardless of their dire scenario, the Nets stay on the prime of the Japanese Convention, due largely to Durant’s unimaginable season. Los Angeles may have LeBron James and Russell Westbrook, however the third member of their “massive three” gained’t be out there. Anthony Davis stays out along with his injured left knee and the Lakers nonetheless have a number of gamers in protocols. This could nonetheless be a aggressive contest, however nowhere close to what many individuals envisioned firstly of the season.
Prediction: LeBron dominates early and the Lakers cling on at house to defeat this battered Brooklyn group.
1. Warriors @ Suns (5 PM on ABC)
The 2 finest groups within the league may have a rubber match on Christmas, with every group getting a victory on their house ground earlier this month. Their ultimate assembly this season doesn’t come till March 30 so Phoenix will put an emphasis on getting this one in case the playoff seeding within the West comes right down to a tiebreaker. The Suns have been rolling proper alongside after their run to the Finals final season.
The Suns have 24 wins this season.
In distinction, they did not win greater than 24 video games in any of Devin Booker’s first 4 seasons.
— Bally Sports activities Arizona (@BALLYSPORTSAZ) December 20, 2021
Devin Booker has returned to motion following his hamstring harm and each Chris Paul and Steph Curry will make this must-see TV on Christmas. Each of those groups rank top-five in offense and top-three in protection. The Warriors will probably nonetheless be with out Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, and naturally Klay Thompson and James Wiseman. Be that as it could, this could nonetheless be the very best Christmas Day sport this yr.
Prediction: This may come right down to the ultimate few possessions, the place Paul tends to shine. The house group will get an enormous victory in the very best sport of the day.
When it comes to historical past, Bernard King holds the report for probably the most factors scored on Christmas when he poured in 60 within the 1984 sport between the Knicks and Nets. Wilt Chamberlain scored 59 factors in 1961 and Rick Barry holds the one different 50-point efficiency on Christmas when he hit that complete in 1966.
In that sport the place Chamberlain scored 59 factors, he additionally pulled down 36 rebounds, which is one Christmas Day report that might not be damaged. In reality, he and Invoice Russell maintain the 5 highest rebounding totals for Christmas video games. These numbers shall be troublesome to beat, however the report for many assists on Christmas Day may fall this yr. That quantity is eighteen, which is shared by Nate Archibald and Man Rodgers.