‘Twas the night before an NBA Christmas
‘Twas the night before Christmas/
When all through sports/
Not a creature was stirring/
Not even the NBA.
Or something like that….
Sandwiched between a smorgasbord of activity on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday and Christmas on Wednesday, the majority of the sports world rests on Tuesday—Christmas Eve. Most notably, there is not a single NBA game on the schedule. Call it the calm before the storm.
And what a storm it will be. Five games are part of the yuletide slate, and three feature mouth-watering matchups. Sure, five for five would have been nice and should have been the case when the season started; but Golden State has been an injury-plagued disaster and Zion Williamson-less New Orleans will have to be content with one more rebuilding year. Thus Warriors-Rockets is no good and neither is Pelicans-Nuggets.
But Santa Claus is brining plenty of good news: the other three games are awesome.
Celtics at Raptors
Fresh off a stunning 110-107 victory over Dallas on Sunday evening, when they set a franchise record with a 30-point comeback (down 30 with less than three minutes remaining in the third quarter!), the Raptors now try to maintain momentum against Boston. If the regular season ended now, both teams would have home-court advantage in round one of the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Celtics are in second place at 20-7, while Toronto is fourth with a 21-9 record. This is an intriguing battle between two somewhat new-look squads. Boston is led by newcomer Kemba Walker, while Toronto no longer has Kawhi Leonard but Pascal Siakam has assumed the reins in impressive fashion.
Bucks at 76ers
Who do the Celtics trail in the East? That would be none other than Milwaukee, which has established itself as the best team in the entire association. Giannis Antetokounmpo and company are an incredible 27-4, including a ridiculous 21-1 mark in their last 22 outings. In the past week they have defeated the Western Conference-leading Lakers (24-6) and crushed Indiana (21-10) by 28 points. That is not to say Philadelphia will be any kind of pushover for the Bucks. The 79ers find themselves in fifth in the East at 22-10. Check out our free NBA expert picks for this game and all others.
Clippers at Lakers
Who has the upper hand in this Los Angeles rivalry? Well, the jury is still out; Christmas may go a long way in determining—at least for now—the answer to that question. The Lakers boast the superior record, but from completely out of nowhere they have lost three in a row. Failing to capitalize on a slight opening of the door in the West, the Clippers (22-10) are just 2-3 in their past five contests. You can be sure that both squads will be playing with a ton of urgency in the penultimate game of the day. Leonard, LeBron James, and Anthony Davis are all listed as questionable. Ho, ho, ho; good joke. You know they’re gonna play!