The NBA has scheduled three games this Christmas Day. All are nationally televised, and, for the first time in recent memory, Shaq and Kobe won't be on the same court. Although they will both be on courts somewhere. Some quick preliminaries:
Miami at Cleveland: A game destined to end with a closer score than it likely should. The Cavs are supposed to be the far superior squad, and the Heat have spent the season sputtering. However, while Cleveland may be better than the putrid Heat, they haven't been anything special themselves, with last season's fourth-ranked defense crumbling to 26th thus far in the young campaign. Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O'Neal will be up for the big-stage matchup with Bron, and the Heat will come out firing. Whether they will win remains much in doubt, but they will be in this one until the end.
Phoenix at LA Lakers: The Lakers return from a lengthy trip out East, and the traditional sluggishness should manifest itself by the end of this contest, especially amidst the daunting task of running with the Suns. The Suns have been inconsistent as of late, but here's guessing that their victory over the Spurs has helped to jump start them. They will be ready this time around for a Lakers team that always causes trouble for the boys from the Valley of the Sun.
Seattle at Portland: An excerpt of my conversation with my boy and fellow NBA handicapper Tek Kothary regarding plans for meeting up to watch this game together Tuesday night:
Me: I should be around and able to stop by for the Seattle-Portland game.
Tek: Frankly, this micro-fracture issue makes me a lot less enthused about that game.
Me: Are you unaware that this is the hottest team in basketball that we're talking about here?
Tek: Yeah, but Seattle isn't any good.
Me: Again, hottest team in basketball.
Tek: Yeah, but...ah, all right.
Watch this game! Watch this game! Please, I'm begging you, watch this game! The Blazers are playing better basketball than anyone in the Association at present, and they are showing off the many reasons to be intrigued by this team that don't hail from 'the' Ohio State University. Please just watch and see for yourself.
And, far more importantly, enjoy the rest of your holiday as happily and healthily as possible.
Steve's daily posts can be found on the CelticsBlog NBA page. Check back daily for quality content.