Christmas day is reserved for the best regular season matchups in the NBA, but it might be worth spending time with your loved ones instead of ESPN this year. Perpetually twisting fate has led to scrapping at the bottom and some less than interesting mismatches at the top. It’s nobody’s fault really. The 2013-2014 NBA schedule was released all the way back on August 6th; it would have been irresponsible to pick different teams for the honor, given projections at the time.
As it stands, here’s what we’re looking at:
- 9:00 a.m. – Chicago Bulls (10-16) vs. Brooklyn Nets (9-18) ESPN
- 11:30 a.m. – Oklahoma City Thunder (22-5) vs. New York Knicks (9-18) ABC
- 2:00 p.m. – Miami Heat (21-6) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (13-15) ABC
- 5:00 p.m. – Houston Rockets (18-11) vs. San Antonio Spurs (22-6) ESPN
- 7:30 p.m. – Los Angeles Clippers (20-9) vs. Golden State Warriors (16-13) ESPN
Unless you have a personal investment in any of those teams, you might as well listen to grandpa Jim’s favorite story for the hundredth time and watch little Holly sing the only words she knows to that “cute” new song she learned. Basketball will be waiting for you at 5:00 p.m. when it matters. Shout out to the immense portion of the world for whom this is just another day; basketball is for people of all faiths or lack thereof (as is everything else, but I’ll stow my soapbox for now).
The struggling Bulls are without Derrick Rose for the season, after he tore the meniscus in his right knee against the Trail Blazers on November 5th, and the floundering Nets are without Brook Lopez for the season, after he broke his right foot against the 76ers on December 20th. One of these teams could sneak into the playoffs in the long run because the East is essentially D-League this year, but without those late season implications, I find myself disinterested in this matchup.
The Thunder vs. the Knicks is at least almost interesting. Last year’s scoring leader Carmelo Anthony could potentially drop a 40-burger before the Knickerbockers lose by double digits. Unless, of course, he doesn’t play. Melo will be a game-time decision after twisting his left ankle against the Magic on December 23rd. With or without his contributions, the Knicks are a mess, and even beating the 9 point spread would be an upset.
As for the Heat vs. the Lakers? I’m cringing already. The Lakers are missing Kobe Bryant (fractured patella), Steve Nash (nerve root irritation), and Steve Blake (torn elbow ligament). At least Jordan Farmar is set to return so they’ll have a point guard to start over their last resort D-League scoop Kendall Marshall. There’s no merciful end to this game. If the Lakers take down the defending champs, I’ll eat my santa hat.
Gosh, even Rockets vs. Spurs could be a disappointment. Like Carmelo Anthony, James Harden will be a game-time decision with an ankle injury of his own. If he sits, Dwight Howard should continue his rampage, but the game itself won’t live up to its potential. The fantasy points I stand to gain would be a welcome Christmas gift, but I’m sure you’d rather watch a nail-biter than have me win my week (curse you, Andrew!). Still the best game of the day so far…
Clippers vs. Warriors is where things get interesting. A newly healthy Andre Iguodala will make this matchup a lot closer than records would indicate. Both teams are fun to watch, regardless of opponent, and both teams have multiple players with potential to explode all over the scoreboard. If you have to choose one game to watch today, choose this one. At this point in the evening, grandpa Jim is snoozing and Holly’s been taken home anyway.
It’s a shame that the league-leading Trail Blazers (23-5) won’t be playing, but these things happen. I’m sure they’re glad to have the day with their families and friends. You can catch them tomorrow night on TNT at 7:30 p.m., as they face the Los Angeles Clippers at home in the Moda Center. From all of us at Rip City Project, happy holidays!