Yesterday was Christmas, the time of festivity, presents being opened and time being spent with the family. It was the birth of Jesus and everything else tradition teaches us. Yesterday was also home to five intriguing NBA games. Potential Finals matchups, division foes and some of the most dynamic teams in the NBA were all on display yesterday, making it a Christmas to remember for all basketball fans.
First, the Boston Celtics traveled to southeast New York to face off against the Brooklyn Nets. In their previous meeting, there was an encounter between the teams which led to ejections and bitter memories. The memories carried into yesterday’s game, especially for the Celtics. Boston shot almost 50 percent from the field, along with 60 percent from three point range. The Celtics outrebounded the Nets and also committed fewer turnovers. The margin of loss for Brooklyn really stands out. 93 to 76, losing by 17 points to their rival on Christmas day is sure to stick with them. The Brooklyn Nets played awful and the Boston Celtics played great, but the game proved a lot about both teams.
The second matchup yesterday was between the red-hot New York Knicks and the struggling Los Angeles Lakers. The game was close from start to finish. Carmelo Anthony seemed to respond to any shot the Lakers made. His 34 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists added to his MVP like season, but individual statistics did not help the Knicks. Anthony’s stats were great, but Raymond Felton shot 5 of 19 from the field, adding just 10 points. The one player who seemed to disappoint many was Tyson Chandler. He had to rent out a suite in the Staples Center so he could bring all of his family and friends to the game. His six points and early dismissal from the game because of six fouls negatively impacted the outcome of the game. His strength and inside presence could have given the Knicks a big road win, but in the end they fell short. Neither team played exceptionally well. Both shot under 50 percent from the field, but Steve Nash proved to be a huge impact. His 16 points and 11 assists were huge in this win for the Lake Show. L.A. played the best they have all season yesterday, and it seems like they are getting back on track for this season.
The most watched game yesterday was the potential Finals matchup for this year. The Oklahoma City Thunder traveled down to South Beach to face off against the Miami Heat. LeBron James has scored 20 or more points in 30 straight games dating back to last season. James’ 29 points, 8 rebounds and 9 assists were the key to a big win over the Thunder. Unsurprisingly, the game was close, and Kevin Durant and LeBron James dominated the rock throughout the entire game. Russell Westrook had too many out-of-control plays, and Kendrick Perkins had no effect in the low post. Dwayne Wade was responsible for 5 of the Heat’s 13 turnovers. Chris Bosh only had 6 rebounds. Kevin Durant was making unbelievable shots, and contributed with 7 rebounds. LeBron James pretty much had to do everything for the Heat in the 42 minutes he played. Whether it was play the point or securing the paint, James did it all. The two are the best in the NBA, no question. But their teammates will need to step up if the teams are to meet up in June for a Finals rematch.
Unless you are a Houston Rockets fan, there was nothing but disappointment in the Windy City yestertday. The Rockets faced off against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center, and Houston absolutely thumped Chicago. There is a quote that states, “Offense wins games, but defense wins championships.” Whatever offense went up against the Bulls yesterday would win both the game and a championship. Chicago is the best defensive team in the NBA, but they gave up 120 points to the Rockets. Houston shot 56 percent from the field, and a chunk of their points came from fastbreaks. The Rockets had 31 fastbreak points against Chicago. Saying that just does not sound right. How do the Bulls play such sloppy defense when Coach Tom Thibodeau emphasizes the most important part of the game? Chicago just did not seem to have it in them yesterday, and it lead to an awful home loss. In fairness to the Rockets, they are a dynamic team who can beat anyone they face. Former Bull Omer Asik helped the Rockets with 20 points and 18 rebounds. James Harden had 26 points, and Jeremy Lin had 20 and added 11 assists. The Houston Rockets are the real deal and could be a playoff team.
The last game on Christmas day was a matchup between a young Denver Nuggets team and the streaking Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers are hands down the most dynamic team in the league. Blake Griffin’s acrobatic dunks and Chris Paul’s beautiful passes are too much for nearly any team. In akmost every stat category, Denver beat Los Angeles. The one thing that won the game for the Clippers was the offensive rebounds. The 16 rebounds off the offensive glass gave L.A. second chance opportunities which led to a 112-100 victory. Denver is a young team who is a lot of maturing to do, but that will come with time and they could be a dominant team in the upcoming years. For now, the Los Angeles Clippers are number one in the power rankings, on a 14 game winning streak and are on track for a high seed in the playoffs.
For basketball fans, yesterday was like a double Christmas. Two of the best players went head to head, as did division rivals. Christmas day gave us potential Final matchups and five entertaining games. Christmas games are full of nothing but intensity. The players know what is at stake on Christmas day, and in some cases Christmas day may mark the fate of some teams. The fun starts after Christmas day. May the playoff chase begin.