The NBA Christmas schedule is packed with hotly-contested matchups this season. Although they will, unfortunately, be viewed from home by fans, there is still lots to be excited about including a top West matchup and a first look at how a strong defensive unit such as the Boston Celtics can handle Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Predicting the 2020-21 NBA Christmas Day games
The league has put together a thrilling schedule for NBA Christmas this year with five games being played one after the other. Let's have a look at how each game could end up.
New Orleans Pelicans vs Miami Heat
Opening the NBA Christmas Day schedule will be an East vs West matchup between the New Orleans Pelicans and Miami Heat. Both teams come into the season with a fully-fit roster, so we can expect a close affair. The two sides' game in November 2019 saw the Heat prevail by 15 points, though a stronger starting unit from the Pelicans saw them even the series back in March.
Miami is coming off their best postseason performance since they lost in the Finals to the Spurs in 2014. Last season, it was their former player LeBron James who led the LA Lakers to victory over the Heat, thwarting their unsuspected championship hopes.
New Orleans will come to Miami hoping that their two stars, Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram, are enough to lift them past Miami. However, playing on their home court and coming off the back of a hugely successful playoff performance, the Heat will likely take the opening NBA Christmas Day game.
Golden State Warriors vs Milwaukee Bucks
The Golden State Warriors will face the best of the East last season in their NBA Christmas game. After Giannis Antetokounmpo signed a new extension with the Bucks, they are among the favorites to retain their crown after topping the conference last year. Meanwhile, the Warriors have their own talisman, Steph Curry, fully fit to start the new season after his absence last year left the side short on offensive output.
Entering the contest, both sides will look to use their superstars as unguardable pieces on the offensive end. The Warriors will struggle against Giannis' size and athletic ability, meanwhile, Milwaukee will have to cope with Curry's prolific three-pointers off screens.
Both sides have effective defensive stoppers in Jrue Holiday and Draymond Green. However, with a more experienced roster and a home-court advantage, the Bucks could just edge this exciting NBA Christmas Day matchup.
Brooklyn Nets vs Boston Celtics
Two sides hoping to challenge the Bucks in the East are the Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics who face one another at 5PM ET in game three of the NBA Christmas slate.
The Nets are probably the most hyped-up side ahead of the 2020-21 NBA season with fans excited to see Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving link up. Most believe the two can push the franchise into championship contention especially with the supporting pieces around them.
Also see:- NBA schedule 2020-21
NBA Christmas games are known for their high intensity, and the Celtics will need to be at their defensive best if they are to thwart the Nets' All-Stars. Marcus Smart was named to the All-Defensive first team each of the past two seasons and is part of the Celtics' promising young core. Jayson Tatum signed a new contract with the franchise this offseason, and along with Jaylen Brown, they will be the side's main sources of points now that Gordon Hayward has left.
This matchup is probably the hardest to call considering Kyrie and KD have only played in preseason together. But you would expect their class to be too much for the Celtics in the third NBA Christmas game.
Dallas Mavericks vs LA Lakers
The first of the two NBA Christmas evening tip-offs is between the Dallas Mavericks and LA Lakers at 8PM ET. The Mavericks are one of the most promising sides entering the 2020-21 season.
Led by MVP candidate Luka Doncic, Dallas was unlucky to not perform better in last season's playoffs, losing to the Clippers in the first round. Their opponents on Christmas, the LA Lakers, will prove a much stiffer test after winning the NBA championship and strengthening themselves this offseason.
Dennis Schroder, Marc Gasol, Wesley Matthews, and Montrezl Harrell have all joined the franchise, meanwhile, LeBron James and Anthony Davis have been tied down to new long-term contracts. The Lakers were announced in the GM's survey as favorites to win the Finals again this year with 81 percent of the vote. With home-court advantage in this NBA Christmas game, they will prove to be too strong for the Mavericks.
LA Clippers vs Denver Nuggets
The NBA Christmas schedule ends with a matchup between last season's second and third seeds, respectively, in the West with the LA Clippers and Denver Nuggets. The Clippers breezed their way to a 3-1 series lead in the second round before lacking the focus to put away the Nuggets who came back to win in seven games.
The LA Clippers will be out for revenge this season and intent on cementing their position as the second-best, if not the best side in the West. They will have to be at their best though to stop a rising Nuggets side with a strong core of young stars.
Both teams are well-matched with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George against Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic. Before entering the bubble last season, each won a game on their home court. If history is to repeat itself, then Denver should win this game but it will undoubtedly be a close affair to wrap up the NBA Christmas slate.Published 19 Dec 2020, 04:59 IST