Because of Christmas Day falling on Thursday this year, TNT will get to have a doubleheader of NBA games at 8:00 & 10:30, their normal times, along with the amazing Inside the NBA postgame. The holiday games are as scheduled –
Washington Wizards @ New York Knicks – 12:00, ESPN
The Washington Wizards are a very trendy pick to make some noise in the NBA Eastern Conference this year, especially because of the potential fall of the Indiana Pacers after the Paul George injury. The Wizards are building their team around John Wall & Bradley Beal, possibly the best guard combination in the entire league. The Wizards pushed the Pacers to the brink last year & showed the league that this is a team that is on the rise & will look to move into the NBA elite.
With Kevin Durant able to be a free agent after the 2015-16 season, this is the season that the Wizards begin to move into that next level where Durant can feel as though if he went to Washington D.C., (his hometown) after next season, he could be the single piece to get the Wizards to a potential NBA championship.
The NBA is showing that the Wizards are going to be a team to look at by putting them on national TV against the Knicks on Christmas Day at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks, in the first full season under President Phil Jackson & a newly-resigned Carmelo Anthony, will be looking to go into a more youth-based movement this coming season, with the additions of Shane Larkin, Sam Dalembert & Jose Calderon.
With the youth all around the Knicks organization, it will be up to Anthony to show on the biggest stage early on in the season that the Knicks were right in putting the franchise in his hands.
Oklahoma City Thunder @ San Antonio Spurs, 2:30, ABC
This is a rematch of the 2014 NBA Western Conference Finals, where the Spurs took out the Thunder on their way to an NBA Championship.
Both teams will be coming in with essentially the same time in tact, with the big 3 of Durant, Russell Westbrook & Serge Ibaka vs the ageless wonders in Tim Duncan, Tony Parker & Manu Ginobili.
Barring some unforseen circumstances, this should be the possible matchup in the 2015 NBA Western Conference Finals. Both teams have great playoff experience & are playoff tested at this point, with the Spurs having far more championships to the Thunder’s 0. This will be another great showcase for Durant & Westbrook to show if they are ready to possibly get over the hurdle that is the San Antonio Spurs dynasty.
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Miami Heat, 5:00 p.m., ABC
This is the game of the holiday. LeBron James will make his first return to South Beach to take on the Miami Heat, a team that was able to revamp nicely after James announced that he would go back to Cleveland.
The Cavaliers could possibly have James as well as Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves, as a trade as been agreed upon where Love would go to Cleveland for the #1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins, last year’s #1 pick in Anthony Bennett & a guaranteed first-round pick next year.
With Love in the mix & a maturing Kyrie Irving, plus other pieces on the bench as well as Dion Waiters & Anderson Varejao, the Cavs have a great unit that can be a true contender for an NBA championship from the starting tip-off of the regular season.
The Miami Heat reloaded their roster by re-signing Dwyane Wade & Chris Bosh to long term deals, particularly Bosh, who got the max contract, thus making sure he didn’t go to the Houston Rockets, who were also offering a max deal of $97 million, the most that a player going to a new team can earn.
Miami Heat president Pat Riley is no dummy. He had to have a feeling that LeBron was going back to Cleveland after their meeting in Las Vegas, so he signed Luol Deng from the Bulls, who was also traded to the Cavs in the middle of last season. Along with Deng, the team brought some nice pieces around the stars in Wade & Bosh in Josh McRoberts & Danny Granger, who will be looking to get back to what he was in 2011 & 2012 when he was emerging into one of the most dymanic inside/outside players in the NBA.
The organization paid back Wade & Bosh because they didn’t run away when LeBron decided to go back home, the sign of a great group from top management all the way down. This game will show whether the organization can truly stay among the elite in the NBA or was it really LeBron & the rest of the Heat the entire time.
Los Angeles Lakers @ Chicago Bulls, 8:00 p.m., TNT
For the Chicago Bulls, this is the year that the franchise is supposed to make a push towards getting back to the NBA Finals, with a head-on matchup against the Cleveland Cavs. With Derrick Rose looking healthier than ever after his team USA exhibition in Las Vegas, it looks as though the Bulls, with the addition of Pau Gasol & drafting Doug McDermott from Creighton.
The Bulls organization knows that it could be now or never for this team, who didn’t land Carmelo or LeBron in free agency. Even though they did bring in Gasol, it wasn’t seen as a major splash in free agency, especially after losing Deng.
The Lakers signed Carlos Boozer after the Bulls amnestied him after the season. The team also brings back Steve Nash, who admittedly is truly back for the money & the team has no idea how much Nash can bring to the table at this point in his career after the countless injuries he has endured over the last two seasons.
Along with Kobe Bryant coming back to the organization, the team hired a new head coach for this upcoming season in former Laker & Lakers legend Byron Scott. Scott had his most success with the New Jersey Nets, when he took the team to two straight NBA Finals in the early 2000s. Scott has to show that he is ready to take the keys to one of the most storied franchises in all of sports early on in order to gain the trust of Laker nation, who has been pushed to the background as the 3rd most important team in the Staples Center, behind the Los Angeles Clippers & the Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings.
Golden State Warriors @ Los Angeles Clippers – 10:30 p.m., TNT
The end of the great 5 game lineup of NBA Christmas Day basketball culminates with the showdown between the Golden State Warriors & Los Angeles Clippers.
The Clips & Warriors faced off in a wild first-round series last season that was marred in controversy because that was the time that the Donald Sterling tapes surfaced online, putting the entire Clippers franchise on edge.
With the Warriors, this is the first high-profile game for new head coach Steve Kerr, who moves from the booth at NBA TV & TNT to lead his first team. Kerr will have great weapons around him however – a young team led by Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson & David Lee. With the strong youth in the Warriors organization, Kerr should have an easier time getting used to the coaching rigors of the NBA as he replaces respected head coach Mark Jackson.
The Los Angeles Clippers are finally back to being able to focus on basketball, as the end of the last season was difficult to do with the issues with Sterling & the questions about ownership. Now that Steve Ballmer now fully has the team, the Clippers need to show on the national stage that they can be on the same level as the Thunder & Spurs in the very crowded NBA Western Conference standings.
As a whole, the NBA comes through with a great slate of Christmas Day games, keeping with the tradition of having a great day for everyone to sit down & enjoy the league on a grand scale.
Oh, by the way, in case you forgot about the greatness of Inside the NBA, here is a classic episode for you from last season. For more information, please follow the DraftKingsMaster on Twitter, Like the blog on Facebook & follow our pins on Pinterest.