Happy Holidays to all the BSR staff and readers and thank you for everything over the last year. One of my favorite Christmas traditions is watching the NBA games that come on the slate for the day and this year we get five games. For me, it was an early Christmas present to hear the NBA was coming back from the lockout even if it was in a shortened season. So let’s rank the 5 games in terms of watchability and possible drama.
5) Oklahoma City @ Orlando 8 PM
When my favorite player and back to back scoring champion, Kevin Durant, and the Thunder are in the fifth game, you have a rock solid lineup. The Thunder will have to deal with expectations this year as they are the front runner to win the West and compete for the championship. It will be interesting how the duo of Russell Westbrook and Durant evolves as the media tries to create tension between the two. On the other side of the coin, there is the Magic. Dwight Howard and his constant will he or won’t he mentality in terms of staying with the Magic long term drama will be a distraction this year. How much is yet to be determined? If Howard is no worse than the second best player in the league, the Magic will do well. If not, there is not much there to carry the team. The Thunder have bodies to throw at Howard with Kendrick Perkins and Nazr Mohammad so with that, the Thunder will get a valuable road win as James Harden emerges as the X factor for the Thunder.
4) Los Angeles Clippers @ Golden State 10:30 PM
Lob City will be a must see attraction with the best point guard in the league, Chris Paul, joining the Clippers and teaming with Blake Griffin. With Griffin’s high flying ability and CP3’s passing, it truly will be Lob City. As for the Warriors, they introduce a new coach in Mark Jackson and hope to continue the electric offense with Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis and company but add some defense as well. I think the new look Clippers will emerge victorious over their Pacific division foe as their team will be too much for Golden State.
3) Boston @ New York 12 PM
Boston and New York have been rivals in everything sports it seems whether Jets-Pats (who cares as a Ravens fan) or the Yankees-Red Sox (barf as an O’s fan). Knicks-Celtics claims to be a rivalry but neither have been good at the same time since the 80s. With the signing of Amare Stoudemire last summer and trade of Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks have become a respectable establishment as opposed to the laughingstock they were. This offseason they signed Tyson Chandler to help anchor their defense. Knickerbockers hold serve at home to open the Christmas day slate.
2) Chicago @ Los Angeles Lakers 5 PM
Chicago has the reigning MVP in Derrick Rose and the Lakers are the Lakers. The Bulls finished with the best regular season record last year and lost in the conference finals to the Heat and the Lakers were swept out of the playoffs by the Mavericks in the second round. It should be an entertaining game although Andrew Bynum is suspended for this game and the next 4 due to his actions in the playoffs last year and Kobe Bryant is hobbled. However, that has never stopped him before and the Lakers will emerge victorious.
1) Miami @ Dallas 2:30 PM
The main event is the NBA Finals rematch from last year as the Heat will watch the Mavericks raise the banner and get their rings. I think every champion should face their Finals opponent on Ring Night. It just adds to the subtext and drama. The Mavericks lost Tyson Chandler and JJ Barea in the offseason but added Lamar Odom and preserved cap flexibility for this offseason. The Heat return with the Big 3 of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh as they try to vanquish last year’s memories and hoist the title this year. It should be an interesting year 2 for the Heat. Mavs emerge with home victory on Ring Night on Christmas Day.
Check out the season preview for the NBA season tomorrow.