Merry Christmas (5 Times) From The NBA

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Six months seems like a long time to wait for a loved one to return. But when we saw the Christmas Day lineup of NBA games that the schedule making powers-that-be whipped up for us, it melted any lingering animosity we might have had about the 149-day lockout.

By the time you are finished opening gifts, sipping a little coffee and smacking on that cinnamon roll on Christmas morning, you’ll be able to dive into another pile of gifts from the NBA. The blockbuster, five-game lineup (the rest of the schedule comes next week) includes some of the league’s top teams and top stars on a day-long showcase that starts with a special Christmas morning episode of GameTime on NBA TV, followed by an episode of Inside The NBA on TNT that leads into the action.

Boston Celtics at New York Knicks, Noon ET, TNT

Keep An Eye On: Might this wind up being a battle between the Celtics’ Big 3+1 against the Knicks’ Gotham City remix of the Big 3, including the much-discussed Chris Paul joining Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire?

It’s hard to say which way that will go right now, what with somewhat conflicting reports that Paul’s agent is seeking a trade from New Orleans to New York and then Paul saying he has asked for nothing of the sort.  That said, the Celtics have some intrigue going on, too. Rajon Rondo‘s name has been all over the trade rumor mill, despite blanket denials from Celtics’ boss Danny Ainge that he loves his franchise point guard and has no interest in moving him.

Either way, we’re tuning in for this continuation of the playoff matchup that the Celtics won going away last season. And with all of the principles, whoever they might be, well rested and eager to kick off the season the right way, there’s no way this game is anything other than a colossal battle of wills. It’s the perfect way to kick off the big day.

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Miami Heat at Dallas Mavericks, 2:30 p.m. ET, ABC 

Keep An Eye On: One can only imagine what sort of splendid banner raising/ring/whatever-else-it-might-be ceremony Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has planned for opening day in Dallas. Having the same Heat team they vanquished in The Finals on the other side of the floor for the festivities is a brilliant move by the schedule makers, who guaranteed that this rivalry gets an immediate dose of energy by pitting these two contenders against each other from the start.

There was plenty of hostility between the two sides by the time The Finals ended. It’s been a long offseason, but surely Dirk Nowitzki hasn’t forgotten about how LeBron James and Dwyane Wade clowned him about being sick during the series. And James must remember all of the heat he took for his struggles throughout the fourth quarters in The Finals.  And you know Mavericks sharpshooter Jason Terry can’t wait to get another crack at the Heat.

We do have to wait a while to see who else is suiting up alongside those stars we already mentioned, including a reportedly bigger and bulkier Chris Bosh. Tyson Chandler is a free agent and has expressed some doubts that he will return to his post anchoring the Mavericks’ defense. Playoff hero Jose Barea is also on the free agent hit list for a number of teams and could end up elsewhere.

Rest assured, whoever suits up will understand the intensity expected when that ball goes in the air. We can’t wait.

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Chicago Bulls at Los Angeles Lakers, 5 p.m. ET, ABC

Keep An Eye On: In this era of superstars collaborating to win titles, it will be refreshing to watch the two guys who refuse to recruit their peers to come play with them square off at Staples Center. Kobe Bryant‘s Lakers, still smarting from being smashed by the Mavericks in the playoffs last season, will show us what they’ll look like in the Mike Brown era. Meanwhile, Derrick Rose still seems a bit salty with himself for his playoff performance against the Heat, struggles that no doubt influenced and inspired his offseason workouts.

Speaking of Brown, there isn’t another coach in any sport at any level under more scrutiny than the man who has to replace Phil Jackson on the Lakers’ bench. Brown’s task will be toughened by the fact that the Lakers have to figure out how to reinvent themselves without the security of the triangle offense they used to fuel their rise. Brown will have his hands full with Metta World Peace (the former Ron Artest) while also trying to rebuild Pau Gasol‘s confidence after his playoff struggles last season.

(Remember, the Lakers will play the first five games of this season without Andrew Bynum, who will serve his suspension for that elbow shot to the ribs of Barea during the playoffs last year.)

The Bulls offer their own set of intriguing subplots, having to show that Tom Thibodeau‘s first season (in which he was named Coach of the Year) was no fluke. The Bulls had plenty of skeptics last season as they went about the business of recording the best record in the league. They won’t have that luxury this season. Playing with a target on their chests every night will test their mettle.

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Orlando Magic at Oklahoma City Thunder, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

Keep An Eye On: On paper the Magic and Thunder would appear to be teams headed in opposite directions. Kevin Durant spent his summer cementing his position as, arguably, basketball’s most beloved young star and the leader of a Thunder team that ground its way to the Western Conference finals last season. The Magic, on the other hand, were bounced from the conference semifinals by the Hawks, sparking more rumors that Dwight Howard is ready to bolt.

Howard joins both Chris Paul and Deron Williams as the players most coveted by others, the ones most likely to join a superfriends group resembling what we’ve seen in Boston and Miami in recent seasons. The Knicks and Nets battled for Carmelo Anthony last season and could do the same again for the attention of Howard, who has given no indication as to what he plans to do beyond starting training camp with the Magic.

Strangely, the one story we figured to be most prominent regarding the Thunder seemed to fade during the lockout. All-Star and All-NBA point guard Russell Westbrook was under heavy fire from outsiders for his roller coaster performance during the playoffs, sparking debates about whether the Thunder should seek to replace him with someone else. It was a suggestion that sounds as preposterous to us now as it did during the Western Conference finals. We’re expecting big things from Westbrook this season. Opening night is as good a time as any to get started.

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Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Keep An Eye On: Like so many of our nights last season, Christmas will end with a heavy dose of Blake Griffin doing what he does best, making monster highlights. Unfortunately, new Warriors coach Mark Jackson will be on the wrong side of some of those calls he used to make as an ESPN analyst. Because we’re pretty sure Griffin will do a few things to make someone say, “Mama there goes that man” on Christmas night.

The Clippers sit atop the preseason HT rankings for the surprise team in the league this year. With Griffin and Eric Gordon coming into their own last season and the franchise finally showing some true signs of progress on the floor, much is expected of Vinny Del Negro‘s crew this season. How the Clippers handle these heightened expectations makes for must-see-viewing.

We’re also intrigued to see what Jackson will do as a coach. After hearing him analyze for so long, it’s going to be interesting to see what he brings on the bench. Will he make Monta Ellis and Steph Curry even more dangerous as a backcourt duo? Warriors fans have to be banking on it, as that is their only hope to climb up the food chain in the Western Conference. A lot is riding on the Jackson-Ellis-Curry dynamic to help reignite the franchise in Oakland. This will be our first taste.

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55 Comments

  1. Just1Fan says:

    I’m glad these, selfish, overpaid, cry babies finally figured it out. The lockout really rubbed me the wrong way. At the end of the day it’s not about them. It’s about us… THE FANS. What kind of champion will this season produce? The shortened schedule is going to affect the way teams are seeded in the playoffs. This just goes to show that money is the root of all evil.

  2. chandler f says:

    DWADE123

    The Clippers Warriors game stats are way off and so is your outcome
    Griffen not a shot blocker and I doubt he will get even 5 rebounds in that game

    Clippers 87 Warriors 112

  3. Bob says:

    Given the choice between spending time with my family, and watching a quintupple header NBA bonanza, I will choose very carefully. hahahahaha

  4. N.C says:

    where are serge ibaka highlight dunks?

  5. Alvin says:

    Now if Miami would trade Le Bron for Dwight Howard – that would truly make my Christmas.

  6. CalceeumC says:

    whats up with that clippers game…everytime i watch a clippers i fall asleep….they should have moved the lakers game to 9:30pm slot and put the grizzlies in the 5:30pm slot…smh no is going to watch the clippers so the simple reason late and boring game…

    • Gary says:

      I’m more anxious to see Blake posterize someone on Christmas day, than I am to see Zach Randolph’s 1980’s style fade away shot. I’m sure the vast majority of fans are too.

  7. DWADE123 says:

    Clippers beat Warriors 110-104
    Stats-
    Gordon 30pts,7asts,9rbs,2stls,2blks
    Griffin 40 pts,20rbs,7blks

    Curry 28pts,9asts,5rbs,3stls
    Ellis 46 pts,10asts,6rbs,7stls
    Wrght 24pts
    Lee 29pts,20rbs,4blks

    • chandler f says:

      DWADE123

      The Clippers Warriors game stats are way off and so is your outcome
      Griffen not a shot blocker and I doubt he will get even 5 rebounds in that game

      Clippers 87 Warriors 112

  8. DWADE123 says:

    Magic beat Thunder 130-129(in 2ot)
    Stats-
    Nelson 22pts,10asts,6stls,5rbs
    Richardson 29pts
    Turkoglu 26 pts
    Howard 46pts,22rbs,10blks

    Westbrook 33pts,13rbs,13asts,3blks,5stls
    Durant 40pts,16rbs,3blks,4stls,10asts

  9. DWADE123 says:

    Lakers beat Bulls 99-98 (in ot)
    Stats-
    Bryant 34pts,9asts,6stls,2blks,7rbs
    Gasol 26pts,16rbs

    Rose 36pts,14asts,6blks,9rbs,6stls
    Deng 24pts
    Boozer 29pts,20rbs

  10. DWADE123 says:

    Here are my other predictions for other games

    Heat beat Mavericks 119-89
    Stats-
    Wade 36 pts,8asts,9rbs,3blks,3stls
    James 33 pts,9asts,7rbs,5blks,5stls
    Bosh 19 pts,10rbs

    Kidd 20pts,3stls,13asts
    Terry 16 pts,9asts
    Nowitzki 22 pts,10rbs

  11. Kevin says:

    No one is forcing the family to watch the game. The problem with families these days are that the parents lack the conviction to instill values in their children. I don’t see anything wrong with having games on Christmas. The NBA is trying to make it a tradition, part of American culture. Like football on Thanksgiving. I think the 5 game event is a great move and I thank the NBA for the presents!!!

  12. DWADE123 says:

    YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Finally the season starts after 149 days of blood sweat and tears it is finally here.

    Here are my predictions

    Celtics beat Knicks 116-113 in triple ot(with Chris Paul)
    Stats-
    Paul 30 pts,6rbs,9asts,3stls
    Anthony 40 pts,9rbs,7asts,4stls,3blks
    Stoudemire 29pts,13rbs,6blks,
    Rondo 16 pts,12asts,3tls
    Allen 33 psts,6asts,7-7 3p%
    Pierce 32 pts
    Garnett 19pts,9rbs

  13. Rob K says:

    Eventhough no one gives them a chance now, the Magic will make one powerful push toward getting that title. They will do everything in their power to retain Howard and getting to the finals again (or at least the Eastern finals) will help convince Dwight to stay. So, whatever you do, do not underestimate them!!

  14. J.C.D.C. says:

    Finally! I was happy when I found out the season was back on! I can’t wait to see Rose play Kobe’s team. All in all, I believe it’s going to be a great day! Eating food, giving presents and watching NBA basketball with the pops!

    Go Bulls!!!!!!

  15. NBA #1 Fan says:

    To those of you boycotting or hatin on the NBA for having games on Christmas day :
    1. Why aren’t you doing the same with all sports on all holidays ? such as NFL games on Thanksgiving
    2. What else are you going to do all day ? Isn’t it kinda nice to have something fun to watch together with the family, such as NBA basketball !
    3. This year Christmas is on a Sunday… I wonder how many of you are going to church that day like you should.
    4. In this day and age, most serious sports fans have a DVR for recording games…. so if you are at church or with family, you could watch the games the next day.
    5. Finally, no one is forcing you to watch the games that day, or the next, or at all.

    • Larry says:

      I do I don’t watch any TV on Thanksgiving or Christmas. It’s family time. The Pro sports of the world should take notice and show a good example by not making the athletes play sports on the the Holidays. They have families also and should be allow to spend time with them. The season is long enough to miss two days out of the season is not a big deal.

      • Gary says:

        Everyday should be family time if your so family oriented. Anyhow why do you care if they work on holidays? That’s their decision and they aren’t the only business open on Christmas. You sound like an idiot Larry.

  16. xfactor says:

    Rajon Rondo will still be the best point guard, the double double king! the best playmaker of the celtics.!
    go celtics…
    I also hope the rockets will have a new guy to team up with Martin….:D Go rockets…!!!
    can’t wait to see and buy Metta World Peace’s jersey..hehehe:D go lakers.!

  17. miguel says:

    i think fans all over the world shouls boycott the nba on Christmas day then maybe that bastards will keeo thier house in order. hire a cga already idiots

  18. Alon says:

    let the games begin!!!!!!!!!11

  19. David says:

    one word, NBA FINALS REMATCH and this time its personal. MIAMI HEAT ALL THE WAY!

  20. Larry says:

    Merry Christmas??? I’ll give you a Merry Christmas!! I am totally disappointed in the NBA. I probably in the minority. I am one who thinks that should have cancelled the total season. It is totally irresponsible for the NBA to force these game on the fan. Especially on Christmas. It’s one time when the family can get together. The NBA decides to divide the family by putting o these game. I can see why the is generation iof families is so dysfunctional. The NBA’s fault. I am one who is going boycott the NBA this year. I will not watch any I mean any of the games this year. In my view It’s going to be a disastrous year.
    Just my two cents!!

    • That's All I Know says:

      …they don’t have to watch the games… :S

    • AB says:

      agreed, we’ve loss the sense of family along time ago, but i think ur way off base saying this is dviding the fams…lemme ask u this, did u boycott Black Friday…b/c if anything, that is a prime example of wut u said, blaming the NBA for it all, that’s reaching a little bit, wldnt u say? no disresepct, jus my 2 cents

    • T.O. says:

      Why don’t you just watch with your family?

    • Gary says:

      Your obviously not a fan. They’ve been airing games on Christmas for a long time.

  21. heat4life says:

    are you kidding me ? sorry as.s clips , warriors , magic , over powerhouse GRIZZLIES ???? wtffff

  22. christmas_splendour says:

    Possibly the best Christmas present ever???

  23. alexe says:

    why not the bobcats vs pistons?

  24. Ryan says:

    I am more than happy with these 5 games on Christmas Day. I will be watching them all, but I am really going to be paying attention to Bulls vs. Lakers and Clippers vs. Warriors. I cant wait to watch Derrick Rose and the Bulls take on Kobe and the Lakers. The game I want to see the most is Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin’s Clippers on the road vs. the Wariors. These two players are quickly becoming the leagues best inside/outside dynamic duo, and yet they are only 22 years old.

  25. beantown19 says:

    werd! BOSTON in da building yall other teams better be on ur tippy toes this season! we coming for that golden ball and wont stop at nothing to get it! we giving out free elbows to the grill – tis the season to be jolly hahaha

  26. more_or_less says:

    The Golden State choice is a head scratcher, no offense to Mark Jackson. Actually, I think his 1st game coaching is the only reason they chose it. Speaking of that, his vacancy from the mic will leave the announcing hurting. Who can replace him? Has to be someone with energy, charisma and great 1-liners. Stephen A. Smith is the 1st to come to mind.

  27. bigJOHN says:

    who d othe grizz have?? do you watch basketball?? they have rudy gay. one of the best underrated players. did you watch the playoffs?? add rudy gay to legitimate star zebo and the grizz play the mavs, not the thunder. watch out for the grizz this year, o.j., gasol, zebo, connoly, vasquez(if i spelled his name right), tony allen and of course RUDY GAY!!

  28. mike says:

    This will be fun to have an overload of games for the first day back.

  29. Mariano says:

    I want a Spurs vs. Grizzlies game for christmas too! :P

  30. Duchess says:

    I CAN’T WAIT…I’M IN AGREEMENT WITH FOXY SIMLADY…I WILL BE A SERIOUS COUCH POTATO ON CHRISTMAS DAY!!! LET THE GAMES BEGIN!!!

  31. Lol@nbaBLOGcomments says:

    Lakers Play every christmas and Memphis has Rudy Gay and I would consider Zack Randolph A star aswell.

  32. Conan says:

    It’s about time we get some b-ball going. I’ve been having withdrawals from the lack of play. I just can’t wait to see my Rockets get out thre and tear it up!

    Go Rockets! Woot :)

  33. FoxySimLady says:

    I cant wait. . .I have been going though basketball with draws. . lol. . .Christmas Day will be bum day for me since I will be on the couch with my blanket watching all the games. . .

  34. David M Helmic II says:

    It should be a rematch of Memphis Grizzlies versus the Oklahoma City Thunder instead of the Magic at 8 pm.

    • Trapp says:

      Agree

    • AmeriVet09 says:

      The night is set where the best players in the game start the season. D-12 is THE BEST player in the game, regardless of what other people think. Every other teams that are playing on that night have at least one Superstar playing. Who does the Grizzlies have?

      And why not complaining about the Bulls and Lakers match? That’s not a re-match either.

      • lakersforever says:

        Why not the Memphis Grizz. Easy Dwight Howard… People want to see Dwight play more then Zach Randolph and Rudy Gay. Don’t get me wrong I like the Grizz. but even though they are good Dwight is the best big in the game right now. and about Lakers Bulls … same thing Kobe/rose who else would you rather see play basketball?…
        To me this day sounds perfect

    • Fact Not Fiction says:

      They are putting the stars on TV. Sorry but Memphis doesn’t have any that will bring in the ratings. No offense either because I think they are a great team.