The ranking of the NBA Christmas Games

For years, the NBA show at Christmas served as a somewhat unofficial start to the season for those fans who, for one reason or another, hadn’t been willing to focus their undivided attention on the hoops before. In an unprecedented, fun-mirrored year, the quadruple header from December 25 is actually kind of is the start of the season: just the fourth day of the actual regular season and the first opportunity for many fans to take a good look at the players and teams that are likely to define this distorted, strange campaign.

Yes, Christmas is a day for celebration, for reflection, for peace on earth and mild grace. But also, you know, the ball is life. (Repent, sinners, lest you be hotly burned in the depths of Hell.)

And so: To help you prepare for the festivities and perhaps better organize your viewing schedule around when you’ll be in front of the TV and when you’ll continue to smash carefully built gingerbread houses and hit an egg or whatever, here’s a man at a relative party values ​​of the five games offered, starting with a pair of MVPs:

5. Warriors vs. Bucks (14:30 ET, ABC)

I do not know as putting this in the basement; it seems utterly ungrateful to me to go that long without Stephen Curry and then thumb up my nose to get to see him on the big stage again. But making a list requires something that will come up last, and I have some doubts about how competitive this one will be.

Draymond Green missed the season opener against Brooklyn after contracting COVID-19, missing the entire Golden State pre-season record and adjusting his foot before the final bout. The warriors are absolutely drilled without him. They will stay on the shelf against the Bucks, and I’m not sure Golden State will be much more competitive on Friday. Finding a way to stifle Giannis Antetokounmpo would have become exponentially harder without the former full-time defensive player of the year and directing traffic; breaking last season no. The 1-ranked defense, now with Jrue Holiday on top of the spear, would have been even tougher without Green’s pressure and play. (Also, as Harsh welcomes into the NBA, Kevin Durant followed by Giannis is damn unresolved for runner-up James Wiseman.)

Curry had dazzling moments during the preseason, but he looked even more dominant last preseason, and the Warriors stumbled to an ugly 1-3 start before breaking his arm. If Draymond disappears or softens him, this seems like a game where we get an idea of ​​how much the transcendent Golden State will need Steph to compete against the elite opposition – and, if planted at all, how difficult it will be for the Warriors to hang out. with the best among the best. Here I hope I’m wrong.

4. Clippers vs. Nuggets (22:30 ET, ESPN)

I’m willing to admit that this may be a personal issue, but I’m entering the season feeling somehow bored with the Clippers.

After a statistically successful but stylistically inconspicuous regular season, Kawhi Leonard and Co. they were very good i a burning cart to the top filled with rockets with bottles that a vengeful con man pushed down a mountain slope during the postseason of 2020. Replacing Montrezlo Harrell for Serge Ibaku and adding Nicolas Batum cheaply should improve the team on the field, while exchanging uneven, tiling variations for a smooth, soothing sigh of stability. Quick, tell me one fact about the icebreaker about Luke Kennard, not you I can not call a friend who went to Duke’s. This team could get 70 percent of their games, but it could also do so without your pulse ever speeding up.

Denver presents a multitude of potential antidotes: Nikola Jokić whips fast classics full of courts, Jamal Murray signs an encore for his dangerous LA dispatch in the 2nd round, Michael Porter Jr. jumps for an unimaginable 30, Facundo Campazzo whips the hook over the field. go through the bushes of weapons, etc. If the Nuggets somehow yawn and stretch through the start and lay an egg in the championship game – as they did last Christmas against New Orleans – this one may not be hard enough to keep those of us on the East Coast until the wee hours of a boxing day.

3. Pelicans vs. Heat (12:00 ET, ESPN)

Admittedly, it’s something like gambling that places any hope on a matinee tip that is a compelling and well-played thing. Luckily, the hosts are taking signs from a guy who likes to run out of caffeine.

I’m bullish on the Heat and I’m starting strong. It seems unlikely that a team led by Jimmy Butler and Erik Spoelstrom would come out of the gate sluggish and unprepared. Sprinkle the possibility of fireworks from second-year student Tyler Herro and long-range scorer Duncan Robinson, and Miami could bring out some aesthetically pleasing numbers against the New Orleans defense, which could be ongoing until new head coach Stan Van Gundy gets his youth full from the same anthem . And if the Pelicans need to rely on their offense in the beginning, so much the better.

Zion Williamson – fresh result, scoring 57 points in 67 minutes this preseason, shooting 57.1 percent off the floor and watching powerfully jumped“They should be eager to make up for lost time after missing a window in New Orleans last Christmas.” When the Pelicans celebrated that national light of attention last December, Brandon Ingram made the best use of it, scoring 31 points in a 7-for-9 shot from deep, to spark an upset victory over the Nuggets. Maybe new Pelicans center Steven Adams will catch Butler flush with the screen, prompting Jimmy Buckets to reconsider his praise for the blue kiwi from the Kiwi Wall. How the new New Orleans starting five will disperse early in the season remains a major question, but there’s enough talent and flammable elements on both sides here to start the day with a bang.

2. Nets vs. Celtics (17:00 ET, ABC)

Before we begin: Let’s clear up the bad vibes from the past, so we can start fresh for the upcoming season.

OK, now that we’ve taken care of it: It’s me extreme excited watching Brooklyn’s attack coincide with Boston’s defense. The Nets baked the Cs in their pre-season meeting, with Kevin Durant absolutely dusting any wing Brad Stevens put on him, and Kyrie Irving smoothly punching jumpers over the top of overweight defenders. I’m eager to see if things look different with the excellent two-way trio of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart who are all locked in for harder minutes. Forget non-litigation, history lessons and histrionics. Since KD and Kyrie look no worse than wear and tear after injury, and the Celtics are eternally tough with a thriving talent for scoring a supernova at Tatum, I feel more confident in the overall level of play in this game than the others. This game should provide a great reason to barely watch your loved ones during the early Christmas dinner.

1. Mavericks vs. Lakers (20:00 ET, ABC and ESPN)

Maybe the Lakers intend to ease the season that started just 73 days after winning the 2019-20 championship. Given their well-acquired status as a forbidden favorite to win the 2020-21 title. After making some significant additions during the off-season, it would be reasonable for them to slow down and set priorities to make sure they are in excellent working order. end this shortened 72-game schedule, instead of starting hot.

I guess, however, that after he took the measure of Luka Dončić in one of the best games of last season …

… and left so impressed with the 21-year-old Slovenian that he wanted to give him a damn shoe offer …

… and seeing that she seems to be the star of Dallas next in a long line of highly regarded candidates for what he understandably believes his crown…

… That LeBron James will bring his A game for the ultimate gem of the Christmas lineup. Generally speaking, over the past 18 years this has resulted in some extremely fun basketball and a damn good reason to make sure every last gift moves out in front of the TV so you don’t miss a second of what follows.