This past Monday, the 12th of August, the NBA released its 2019-20 season schedule. And with all the movement of players to different teams that has gone on this past offseason, there are a number of intriguing matchups. But as per usual the NBA saved a large offering of marquee games for Christmas Day, when many will be at home with their families and have the ability to binge on basketball all day! Let’s preview those Christmas Day matchups and what to look out for in them.
Boston Celtics vs. Toronto Raptors
In the very first game of the day the Boston Celtics will travel north of the border to do battle with the defending NBA champs, the Toronto Raptors. This will be a new look Raptors team. Departures of key players like NBA Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard and sharp shooter Danny Green will be evident. The Celtics also lost a couple of All-Stars in power forward Al Horford and point guard Kyrie Irving. But they made up for it by signing All-Star point guard Kemba Walker, and a solid off-the-bench contributor in center Enes Kanter. This will be a very different matchup than if it had taken place a season prior. Look for Walker to dominate the game and give the C’s a victory
Milwaukee Bucks vs. Philadelphia 76ers
The second game of the day will see the Milwaukee Bucks taking on the Philadelphia 76ers in Philly. Both teams were unceremoniously eliminated from the 2019 playoffs by the Raptors. Therefore, both teams will be looking for blood in the 2019-20 NBA season. The Bucks roster will look fairly similar, the only minor tweak was the addition of center Robin Lopez in the offseason. He joins his twin brother Brook on the team. The 76ers on the other hand lost guard/forward Jimmy Butler but added power forward/center Horford and guard/forward Josh Richardson. Let’s not forget about the 2018-19 NBA MVP, “The Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo though. With him on the court the Bucks always have a shot to win. He will be the key figure in this game and should lead the Bucks to a W.
Houston Rockets vs. Golden State Warriors
Perhaps the most intriguing matchup of Christmas Day will be the one right in the middle of the day, between the Houston Rockets and the Golden State Warriors. It will take place at the Warriors new arena in San Francisco, the Chase Center. The game will see some new faces on these teams going to battle against each other. The Warriors will likely be without shooting guard Klay Thompson who suffered a torn ACL in the 2019 NBA Finals. His return will most likely be in the second half of the season. And of course, the big departure from the Warriors was forward Kevin Durant, leaving town for the Brooklyn Nets. They did however acquire All-Star point guard D’Angelo Russell which will be a big help.
The Rockets also made a big move in the offseason, trading for All-Star point guard Russell Westbrook. His acquisition will be a huge asset to the team. He will rejoin All-Star guard James Harden on the Rockets who was his teammate on the Oklahoma City Thunder from 2009 to 2012.
This should be a fun back and forth matchup to watch for the fans. Expect lots of three-point shooting. And expect Warriors All-Star point guard and three-point aficionado Stephen Curry to be the one launching (and making) most of them. It will be a close game but look for the Warriors to pull out the victory due in part to their home court advantage.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Los Angeles Lakers
The two new-look Los Angeles teams will meet first on October 22nd when the season kicks off. And the battle for Los Angeles will continue on Christmas Day. The Clippers acquired All-Star forwards Kawhi Leonard and Paul George in the offseason. Both of them look to make an immediate impact for a team who barely made the playoffs this past season. The Lakers were able to move a whole bunch of young players in a trade to acquire All-Star power forward Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans. The trade was successful in large part due to the excellent recruiting abilities of the Lakers star small forward and NBA darling LeBron James, who shares the same agent with Davis. The team also signed shooting guard Danny Green. After not making the playoffs last season, the Lakers now look to be title contenders.
This duo of George and Leonard against Davis and James will be exciting as ever to watch. This game however should go to Davis, James, and their Laker teammates. James always bring the magic on Christmas Day, so don’t expect anything less in this game!
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Denver Nuggets
Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, and Brandon Ingram were the trio of young players that were shipped to the New Orleans Pelicans in the Anthony Davis trade. The three of them along with the number one overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, Zion Williamson, round out a solid young core for the team. They will travel to Denver to take on the Nuggets in the final game of the night on Christmas. The Nuggets made it to the Western Conference Semifinals in last season’s playoffs. And while they didn’t make any major upgrades in the offseason, they still have a great core of young players that feature point guard Jamal Murray and center Nikola Jokic. Throw in veteran power forward Paul Millsap and you still have a solid team.
This Christmas finale should be highly entertaining as well. And expect some monstrous dunks from the rookie Williamson. In the end look for Ball to quietly orchestrate a victory for his Pelicans.
Gifts in Abundance
Christmas Day all into the night should provide NBA fans with lots of enjoyment and pleasure with its stacked card. All the best talent in the league will be strutting their stuff on the holiday. So, when the day finally comes around; sit back, relax, and enjoy all the basketball glory with your family!