Game of the Week: Christmas Extravaganza
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. I’m a glutton.
But on Thanksgiving, I had to watch the New England Patriots hold the heads of their alleged rivals, the New York Jets, in a toilet bowl for three hours. It was a nightmare.
That’s why Christmas is a close, close second, and it easily beats out Thanksgiving when it comes to viewing pleasure. The NBA has lovingly provided us with 12 hours of great matchups to occupy us after we tire of our new gifts.
And they are great matchups. For my, and to a lesser extent, your amusement, I have ranked them, so you know which ones to skip to spend time with your dumb family.
But the real heroes will spend all 12 hours on the couch, wondering whether the numbness in our legs is atrophy or alcohol poisoning.
Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Clippers, ESPN, 10:30 p.m. eastern time
Yes, I think the game involving arguably the best team in the league is the least worth your time. As much as I love Danilo Gallinari, I think it would be a big upset if the Nuggets won this game, especially in Los Angeles. The Clippers are top five in offensive and defensive efficiency and force turnovers at a league-high rate, giving Chris Paul more opportunity to show why he’s the best point guard in the league. One way the Nuggets can get those opportunites back is through their edge in rebounding. They’ll need a big game from Kenneth Faried.
Boston Celtics at Brooklyn Nets, ESPN, 12 p.m. eastern time
It’s sad how mediocre the Boston Celtics have been. This is a veteran squad kept together out of a real belief that it can challenge for a title, but there hasn’t been much evidence of that. Paul Pierce is having a solid year, but Jason Terry and Courtney Lee have not come close to replacing the production of Ray Allen. The Brooklyn Nets have also been a mixed bag. Brook Lopez has been excellent, but has missed time due to injury, while Joe Johnson, Deron Williams and Gerald Wallace, who also received big new contracts this summer, have been mediocre. Williams has complained about the play-calling, which is rich coming from the guy who begged his way off a Jerry Sloan squad, but perhaps he’s right that different tactics would get more out of what is a talented lineup on paper.
Houston Rockets at Chicago Bulls, ESPN, 8 p.m. eastern time
The Chicago Bulls don’t shoot well and they turn it over a ton. But they have throttled teams on defense in their quest to stay afloat while awaiting the return of Derrick Rose. If you like ugly basketball, watch the Bulls. Joakim Noah has been the key, crashing the boards, showing a deft passing touch and anchoring one of the best defenses in the league with nimble feet and shot blocking. He’ll be called on to help often on James Harden, who is getting to the line 10 times a game. That ties him with Dwight Howard for most in the league, and Harden makes a lot more of them. Being ‘the man’ suits Harden well, and he has led the Rockets to a surprisingly strong start.
New York Knicks at Los Angeles Lakers, ABC, 3 p.m. eastern time
The last time these teams met, the Knicks won handily over the Lakers. They’re sort of similar. Both have highly efficient, pick-and-roll-heavy offenses carrying mediocre defenses. Both feature high-volume scorers and fearsome paint defenders. Both are old as hell. Both have misfit power forwards they don’t quite know what to do with. With Steve Nash back, I think this will be a more even matchup.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Miami Heat, ABC, 5:30 p.m. eastern time
There’s no topping this Finals rematch, though. Nobody, except maybe Chris Paul, is playing as well as Kevin Durant and LeBron James. Basically, it doesn’t matter how good the dinner conversation is, you have to watch this game. Merry Christmas and stuff.