The NBA: Happy Holidays from the Association

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from us here at Hoop Nut! Happy Holidays coming from the NBA as they unveil 5 games for our consumption on Christmas Day starting at 12 noon and ending until 1 pm Eastern time on the 26th! I wish everyday was like this! I know what I'll be doing on the 25th, how about you?

Here's a preview on the upcoming games with the predicted winner. 

The highlight game of the Christmas Day Special features
the rematch of the OKC Thunder and Miami Heat
(Image by:
GAME 1: Boston Celtics at Brooklyn Nets
This will be the 3rd meeting of 4 games between the Atlantic division rivals. The Nets have a 2-0 series edge where Game 2 featured some shoving matches and the ejection of Rajon Rondo which ended his 10+ assists consecutive games streak at 37. The fracas started between Kevin Garnett and Kris Humphries and that will be a match-up worth watching if Humphries gets to play. He missed the last game of the Nets with an abdominal injury. Well, if Hump does not play, Garnett versus Reggie Evans or Andre Blatche is a nice under card.

Deron Williams continues to shoot horribly (39%) while Joe Johnson has started to get better at 42%, while Paul Pierce has been scorching hot in his last 2 games averaging 37.5 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists on 67% shooting. Avery Bradley could make his season debut and that makes it harder for Williams and Johnson to get their offense started. A win is crucial here since both teams are at least 5.5 games behind the NY Knicks for the division lead.

Prediction: Celtics win because Rondo loves playing in the national stage and a triple-double could happen. Plus, Rondo has been a much better point guard than Deron Williams all-season long. 

GAME 2: New York Knicks at Los Angeles Lakers
The Knicks have been playing well while the Lakers have struggled to get to .500 basketball. Steve Nash will be playing his 2nd game back from missing almost 2 months while Amare Stoudemire might make his season debut coming off the bench. This game features the top 2 scorers in the NBA with Kobe leading the way having scored at least 30 in his last 8 games while Melo has averaged 31 in his last 3 after spraining his ankle

The Knicks won decisively when they last met about 2 weeks ago but things are different now for the Lakers who have won 4 straight. Ron Artest (MWP) has been playing well in his last 5 games (18.4 ppg & 8 boards) and Jodie Meeks has been providing some points off the bench. Meanwhile, the Knicks are 2-2 in their last 4 games plus their 3-point shooting has been on a mini-slump.

Prediction: Lakers win in a close one because Nash and Gasol will dominate the Knicks especially if Amare plays and disrupts the Knick's team chemistry and defensive rotations. 

GAME 3: Oklahoma City Thunder at Miami Heat
The two front-runners in the MVP race and 2 of the top 3 teams in the NBA will have a rematch of last June's Finals. The Thunder had their 12-game win streak snapped while the Heat have a 4-game win streak going on. James Harden wont be playing but Kevin Martin has been an ample replacement for him. Serge Ibaka has refined his offensive ability by making jumpers and is averaging 14 points on 57% shooting.

The Heat defense has made an appearance in their last 5 games as they've held opposition below 100 points and have won games by 16 points on average. LBJ has scored 20+ in all 24 of their games while Dwyane Wade has been hot shooting 55% in his last 5 games. This game could be decided on which sixth man shooter playes better: Allen or Martin. The Heat managed to make Harden struggle in the Finals, can they do the same to Martin?

Prediction: Heat win with their defense while Westbrook hijacks the Thunder's offense by trying to light up Chalmers/Cole, thus limiting shots for Durant.

GAME 4: Houston Rockets at Chicago Bulls
The Rockets won their first meeting in Houston where James Harden scored 28 while Patterson and Parsons combined for 38 points. The Rockets are leading the NBA in points scored while the Bulls are 3rd on least points allowed. The Rockets are 7-1 when Harden scores at least 30 points. Luol Deng leads the Bulls in scoring and he will be tasked to slow down Harden who is 4th in scoring.

This would have been a killer game between Jeremy Lin and Derrick Rose. Too bad, D-Rose aint ready to make his season debut yet. We will have to settle for the match-up between Omer Asik and Joakim Noah. Lin versus Nate Robinson is an okay duel as well. Hehe

Prediction: Bulls win because Robinson and Hinrich play better than Lin who has struggled shooting the ball especially in the clutch.

GAME 5: Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers have a franchise-best 13-game winning streak and the longest one in the NBA. They have demolished their opposition by an average of 16 points during that streak. Their second unit has bested starters from other teams. Jamal Crawford continues to provide excellent outside shooting and the Clippers have not needed the clutch playmaking of Chris Paul since they keep on blowing out the opposition.

The Nuggets have suffered poor shooting performances by Gallinari, Lawson and Iguodala who happen to be their top 3 players. They all are shooting below 45% from the field and are in the low 30s from downtown. Lucky for them, the Nuggets are an excellent rebounding team with Faried and McGee. Great match-ups between powerful dunkers: Griffin and Faried or shot blockers like McGee against Jordan.

Prediction: Clippers win their 14th straight since Lawson is injured and Chris Paul runs wild against the shoddy defense of the Nuggets.
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