5 issues to look at throughout NBA Christmas Day slate


It was nearly “The 12 months With out a Santa Claus the NBA on Christmas Day.”

After the bubble bumped into October, the gamers and groups had been targeted on a January begin to this season, if not later. That’s when the NBA’s tv companions stepped in like Warmth Miser and Snow Miser and altered every part — they needed video games on Christmas Day (and for the season to finish earlier than the Olympics began in July). When the homeowners and gamers noticed how a lot cash could be left on the desk with a January begin, out of the blue they had been on board with video games on Christmas.

Issues could have come collectively quick, but it surely’s nonetheless a powerful slate of video games. Listed below are 5 issues to look at on Christmas Day across the NBA.

1) LeBron James vs. Luka Doncic

The current vs. the way forward for the NBA.

LeBron James is the current. He’s the most effective basketball participant strolling the face of the earth immediately (even at age 35). Giannis Antetokounmpo desires the crown however hasn’t confirmed himself deep within the playoffs. Kevin Durant had the title however misplaced it when he tore his Achilles, then watched LeBron rebound and lead the Lakers to a hoop whereas choosing up one other Finals MVP.

Luka Doncic believes he has subsequent — and LeBron is a giant fan. The third-year Mavericks level ahead is the favourite to win NBA MVP this season in response to NBC Sports activities betting companion PointsBet (he’s +400), and he has talked about main the Mavericks deep into the playoffs this season. (They are going to want a wholesome Kristaps Porzingis for that, he’s nonetheless out to start out the season recovering from his newest knee surgical procedure.)

Luka isn’t knocking LeBron off the mountaintop simply but, but it surely’s showcase moments like this the place his legend can develop. The Laker protection will deal with Doncic, however will Los Angeles play with extra power and deal with the defensive finish than towards the Clippers within the opener.

Take a look at extra on LeBron and the Lakers

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2) Can Boston gradual Kevin Durant and Brooklyn’s offense?

Kevin Durant want to remind you what the smoothest scorer within the recreation seems like.

Rattling, Brooklyn has regarded good. It could be simply one blowout win towards a questionable Warriors protection, plus a few meaningless preseason video games, however the Nets are eye-popping once they have the ball.
Durant seems like his classic self and is taking pictures excessive of defenders or hitting fadeaways, whereas Kyrie Irving’s handles are the most effective within the league, permitting him to get to the rim or step again for a 3 — Durant and Irving mixed for 48 factors on 32 photographs within the opener. Caris LeVert would begin for almost each different group. New coach Steve Nash received the Nets to purchase into ball motion — the ball is flying all around the courtroom, gamers are shifting, and Brooklyn seems prefer it has the most effective offense within the NBA.

Boston has had an elite protection since Brad Stevens received to city (the Celtics had been fourth final season in defensive score, as soon as rubbish time is eliminated), they usually enter this recreation with two of the higher wing defenders within the league: Marcus Sensible and Jaylen Brown. Behind them, the Celtics have carried out a superb job defending the rim, however can they do it towards a formidable Brooklyn assault?

The distinction on this recreation would be the bench — Brooklyn has an elite one with LeVert and Jarrett Allen, whereas Boston misplaced depth throughout the offseason.

3) Clippers visited by the ghost of Christmas previous blown-leads previous.

The NBA schedule makers trolled the Clippers with the beginning of the season. First, they needed to watch their cross-town rivals choose up their rings; then they needed to face the supply of their newest humiliation — blowing a 3-1 lead within the playoffs.

The Clippers regarded good of their opener, behind a giant evening from Paul George, and knocked off the Lakers. Kawhi Leonard regarded robust in that recreation as effectively, and it was evident how a lot Serge Ibaka brings as a flooring spacer in sure matchups. The Christmas matchup, towards Nikola Jokic, was why the Clippers received Ibaka — Montrezl Harrell received performed off the ground by Jokic within the playoffs (and Doc Rivers caught with him too lengthy). No one is taking part in Ibaka off the ground. We’ll see if Patrick Beverley and Leonard can comprise Jamal Murray, who struggled within the opener.

Denver could wish to exorcise their very own ghosts of blown leads after opening evening towards Sacramento.

4) Has Stan Van Gundy actually received the Pelicans taking part in protection?

Stan Van Gundy has a well-earned status as a superb defensive coach — his groups drill the basics and apply it always. J.J. Redick half-jokingly mentioned he was dreading it.

Within the season opener, the Pelicans held a superb Toronto group to underneath some extent per possession. Was {that a} one-off recreation, or are the Pelicans actually a superb defensive group now? Miami will present an actual take a look at — Jimmy Butler will muscle his method to the rim, Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson will drain threes, and Bam Adebayo was the most effective Warmth participant of their opener.

That’s the different factor value watching on this one: Adebayo vs. Zion Williamson. Two of the most effective younger massive males within the recreation. You may be positive Adebayo will get time guarding Williamson, but when that pulls Bam away from his rim-protecting duties Brandon Ingram or Eric Bledsoe will make them pay. Miami additionally wants to trace Redick, who was 6-of-11 from three within the opener.

5) With Draymond Inexperienced out, who guards Giannis Antetokounmpo for Warriors?

At the least we get to see Stephen Curry.

There is probably not a lot else to see on this one. Golden State’s two finest perimeter defenders are Klay Thompson and Draymond Inexperienced, and each are sidelined by accidents, which simply means extra space for Antetokounmpo to do his factor. Within the opener, Jrue Vacation made a couple of performs that remind everybody how tough he may be to protect, and Khris Middleton was the man with the ball in his fingers initiating the offense late. It’d tough to see how the Warriors gradual that trio down.

On high of that, the Bucks are available motivated after having misplaced a heartbreaker within the opener. They want a win.

Curry regarded like Curry within the Warriors opener, however everybody round him missed photographs (Andrew Wiggins and Kelly Oubre had been a mixed 7-of-30). Extra importantly, the present crop of Warriors had no thought easy methods to make the most of the spacing Curry offers on offense together with his gravity (they missed Shaun Livingston type gamers. As ugly because the Warriors’ offense was that recreation, the protection was worse.

It might be a protracted day for the Warriors, until Wiggins or another person surprises and has a monster recreation to assist Curry.

Take a look at the most recent on the Golden State Warriors

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5 issues to look at throughout NBA Christmas Day slate initially appeared on NBCSports.com



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