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Christmas Day: This year’s NBA lineup, predictions, preview

December 18, 2018

          The first NBA basketball game played on Christmas was 71 years ago. And will continue this year featuring ten NBA teams.

         The first game starts at noon in  New York City at Madison Square Garden the home of the New York Knicks. In 1947, the first Christmas Day game features the Knicks (formerly the Knickerbockers) against the Providence Steamrollers (a team no longer in existence) This year, Milwaukee Bucks (14-6) will visit the big apple. Milwaukee is lead by forward Giannis “The Greek Freak” Antetokounmpo, who is a future MVP and superstar in the making. He is only 23 years old and is already showing he is a top player in the league. The Bucks are currently fighting for the top seed in the Eastern Conference and have goals to represent their Conference in June when the NBA finals begin. On the other hand, New York will be looking for a leader to step up after their star, Kristaps Porzingis, tore his ACL. Despite New York’s early struggles, they still have the ability to make a playoff push when Porzingis returns later this season.

         The second game takes place in the wild, wild west of Houston, Texas at  3 p.m. The Oklahoma City Thunder (12-7) will play the Houston Rockets (9-10). Before the Thunder relocated to Oklahoma City, they were the Seattle Supersonics. The Supersonics are previously 0-11 on Christmas day but the change of scenery seemed to help because the Thunder are 5-2. The star-studded Thunder is led by superstar point guard Russell Westbrook, and all-star forward Paul George. The have Rockets started out slow this season, but are beginning to return to their winning ways. After the Rockets released Carmelo Anthony in mid-November, former MVP James         Harden and longtime point guard Chris Paul took over as leaders. Despite the slow start they have plenty of time to turn things around. The next game is an Eastern Conference rivalry between the Philadelphia 76ers (14-8)  and the Boston Celtics (11-10). Tip-off is at 5pm. at the TD Garden; home court of the Boston Celtics. The Sixers are giving the city of Philadelphia something to cheer about. They are led by young prodigy, Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, and a newly acquired guard, Jimmy Butler. After getting knocked out in the second round last year to the Celtics, the Sixers will be looking to spoil Boston’s Christmas Day. The Celtics look to defend their home court, led by superstar point guard Kyrie Irving and forward Gordon Hayward. After losing in the Eastern Conference Finals last year, the Celtics are looking to reach the NBA finals this year and extend their record of most NBA championships with 18.

         Lebron’s Los Angeles Lakers (11-8) will be going against two time reigning champions, The Golden State Warriors (15-8). The Lakers made a big splash signing Lebron James, along with veterans Rajon Rondo, and JaVale McGee in the offseason. He also hopes to lead the Lakers back to the finals for their 32nd time. Golden State has the nucleus of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Kevin Durant. They also signed big name free agent Demarcus Cousins. Golden State started slowly this year but they are still the clear favorites to win the NBA Finals for the third year in a row. Cousins has been sidelined while recovering from an achilles injury from last year. Once he returns, the Warriors should have no problem achieving back-to back-to back-titles.

         The fifth and final game (10:30 p.m.) on Christmas day is between the Portland Trail Blazers (12-8) and the Utah Jazz (9-12). The Trail Blazers travel into Salt Lake City hoping to continue their hot streak and maintaining a spot in the Western Conference Playoffs. They could surprise a few people with their talented backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. After being upset by the New Orleans Pelicans in the first round of the playoffs last season, the Blazers who are 10-2 on Christmas, hope to spoil Christmas in Utah while continuing to make a run at the NBA finals. Utah is playing in their first Christmas day game since 1997 where they defeated the Houston Rockets. The struggling Utah Jazz looks to turn their season around and sneak into the Western Conference Playoffs. The Jazz is led by young guard Donovan Mitchell and defensive mastermind Rudy Gobert. If the Jazz manages to turn their season around, they could pull an upset in the playoffs just like last year.

 

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