NBA on Christmas Day: TV Schedule and Best Player Matchups

As I previewed on MSF just a few days ago, ABC and ESPN are bringing us a great NBA on Christmas Day slate of action starting at noon and going late into the night.

Oh, and there’ll be some special uniforms and shoes on full display:

Before the games get underway, take a look at this preview of the best player matchups from each game:

Boston Celtics at Brooklyn Nets – 12 PM Eastern on ESPN

Elite Point Guards Duel in Brooklyn

The first game of the day features two of the most appealing Eastern Conference teams, and although Kevin Garnett vs. Brook Lopez will be to go along with the Paul Pierce vs. Joe Johnson matchup, the pair to watch is without a doubt the point guards.

Rajon Rondo (13.5 PPG, 12.2 APG) facing off against Deron Williams (16.8 PPG, 8.1 APG) should be great in just about every way. Whether it’s facilitating their team’s offenses or taking control and scoring themselves, expect to see these guys flourish with the great competition constantly coming at one another.

There aren’t that many great point guards, but these are definitely two of them, so they’ll both want to be on their A-game.

Although it's William's scoring numbers and Rondo's assists that are way so impressive, they both can break out in either regard any given day. Credit: USPRESSWIRE

It’s William’s scoring & Rondo’s assists that are most impressive, they both can do it all. Credit: USPRESSWIRE

New York Knicks at LA Lakers – 3 PM Eastern on ABC

NBA’s Two Top Scorers Meet Again

Averaging 28.2 points per game  and currently the favorite to win this season’s NBA MVP Award is Carmelo Anthony, who will be facing off with the league’s leading scorer, the legendary Kobe Bryant (29.7 PPG). Although I expect to see a lot of Ron Ar – I mean Metta World Peace guarding Carmelo, the outcome of the game is sure to come down to whether Kobe or Carmelo is able to outdo each other.

With how good Tyson Chandler (12.8 PPG, 9.9 RPG) has been playing this season, it’ll definitely be interesting to see how he fares against Dwight Howard (17.8 PPG, 11.9 RPG) … but let’s be honest, it’s still Carmelo vs. Kobe we’ll be watching from start to finish.

In their only matchup so far this season, the Knicks dominated until the Lakers made it interesting late, as the Knicks won by 9 at MSG. Credit: Getty Images

In their only matchup so far this season, the Knicks dominated until the Lakers made it interesting late, as the Knicks won by 9 at MSG. Credit: Getty Images

OKC Thunder at Miami Heat – 5:30 PM Eastern on ABC

The Game’s Best Battle

Ah … the matchups of all matchups. Of course, it’s LeBron James (25.4 PPG, 6.8 APG, 8.5 RPG) against Kevin Durant (27.9 PPG, 4.2 APG, 8.4 RPG) in a 2012 NBA Finals rematch. There’s no doubt, these two are the league’s best.

Sure, Dwyane Wade or Russell Westbrook could be the guy to take over on any given day, but in such a big game, you know KD and LBJ will both want to play their best and show the other up. Offense, defense, rebounding – this’ll be a battle between Durant and James from start to finish.

Need we say more about these two? Credit: NBA.com

Need we say more about these two? Credit: NBA.com

Houston Rockets at Chicago Bulls – 8 PM Eastern on ESPN

Defense versus Offense in Matchup of the Underrated’s

Take a close look, because this is an image you'll see a lot. Credit: CBS

Take a close look – you’ll see this image a lot. Credit: CBS

With superstar Derrick Rose still out, this is probably the least flashy of all the matchups, but is still a battle of two well-above-average teams.

There are a lot of underrated players on these underrated teams, including Rockets’ emerging star James Harden (25.6 PPG) and Bulls’ All-Star Luol Deng (17.8 PPG, 7.1 RPG). Deng is probably the most underrated defensive player in the NBA, and he’ll be needed to play big, important minutes on Christmas like he does so often for Tom Thibodeau’s Bulls.

Harden is as pure of a scorer as they come, which has obviously been highlighted by breakout campaign.

While it’s not as exciting as Deng vs. Harden, the big-man battle should be intriguing, too. Omer Asik (10.6 PPG, 11.4 RPG) will be playing against his former team in the Bulls against Joakim Noah (13.5 PPG, 10.6 RPG), who some think deserve to be the NBA’s Defensive POY based on his efforts to this point. That’s sure to be very, very chippy.

Denver Nuggets at LA Clippers – 10:30 PM Eastern on ESPN

The Clippers are riding an NBA-high 13-game winning streak and the Nuggets are quietly a very balanced team sitting at 15-13 in the Western Conference’s playoff hunt. As far as the game’s best matchup, though, this is a tricky one.

Chris Paul (16.1 PPG, 9.6 APG) going against the extremely fast and all-around talented Ty Lawson (13.9 PPG, 7.0 APG) may not be the most glamorous matchup statistically, but I think Lawson can definitely give one of the league’s best PG’s in CP3 a very tough battle, as not many are giving Denver much of a chance to win. The best matchup, however, will come from the team’s front courts.

Kenneth Faried (12.1 PPG, 9.9 APG) and JaVale McGee (11.0 PPG, 19 Min PG) makes up what I believe to be one of the most up-and-coming big-men duos in the league, and they’ll be going up against the most up-and-coming front court the game has to offer – the Clippers’ Blake Griffin (18.3 PPG, 8.9 RPG) and DeAndre Jordan (9.3 PPG, 7.0 RPG).

These two guys’ numbers may not be as impressive as you expected them to be on paper, but they’ve figured out how to help their team win, which is obviously what matters most. It’ll be interesting to see if the Clippers default to them a lot in this big game or if the Nuggets’ bigs control the boards and make the Clippers’ back court win the game.

The Clippers and Nuggets have not yet faced off after meeting each other twice in the pre-season. Credit: Getty Images

The Clippers and Nuggets have not yet faced off after meeting each other twice in the pre-season. Credit: Getty Images

***

As I said earlier in the week, this will be one fun day of basketball. If you’re not the biggest of NBA fans, use the action on Christmas day as a reason to get into it. With all these great matchups set to take place, there’s no way it’ll disappoint.



About Zach Gropper

Zach Gropper is a sports broadcasting major at Indiana University in the beautiful town of Bloomington, IN. He is from Flossmoor, IL, a small Chicago suburb.
Zach was was the sports director for WHFH 88.5 FM Flossmoor his junior year of high school and Television Station Manager of Viking Television during his senior year.
He runs a White Sox blog at GrabSomeBench.com and also contributes and reports for AssemblyCall.com. Last summer, Zach interned for ESPN 1000 AM Chicago, working on programming for the Waddle and Silvy Show.
He is currently eager to get out into the professional world of sports media, wherever that may take him.

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