The NBA teased its fans with a glimpse of the 2017-18 schedule when it released its annual Christmas Day slate. The league made sure to include its biggest stars with LeBron James and Stephen Curry involved as usual. They also made sure to capitalize on the major moves that took place over the summer by including Chris Paul and the Houston Rockets, Jimmy Butler and the Minnesota Timberwolves as well as Paul George and the Oklahoma City Thunder. Here is a look at the Christmas Day games ranked form the best to the worst.
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Golden State Warriors – 3:00 PM ET
As of right now, the rematch between the two teams that have featured in each of the last three NBA Finals will be the marquee event on Christmas Day. Of course, in order for it to stay that way the Cavaliers will need to hold on to Kyrie Irving. The latest reports indicate that Irving and LeBron James had a positive meeting in Miami and both could remain in Cleveland for one more season before taking off. The Cavs are still shopping Irving and are looking for a way to move him while not hampering their chances to win a title in what appears to be LBJ’s final year in Cleveland.
The Cavaliers will be looking for redemption after Golden State came out on top in their most recent NBA Finals meeting. As long as all the familiar faces are back it should make for another exciting showdown.
Houston Rockets @ Oklahoma City Thunder – 8:00 PM ET
One of the most appealing matchups of the day will be featured in the 8 PM ET time slot with Paul and James Harden making the trip to Oklahoma City to take on George, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. There is a good chance these teams will compete for the No. 2 spot in the Western Conference standings this season and that will make this matchup even more entertaining. Of course, there is also the undertones of James Harden-versus-Russell Westbrook. Not only were these two the two best MVP candidates last season, they are former teammates.
A star-studded matchup featuring two teams that should be fairly equally matched should make for one of the most highly anticipated Christmas Day showdowns.
Washington Wizards @ Boston Celtics – 5:30 PM ET
Sandwiched in between the two most appealing Christmas Day matchups is another intriguing showdown between the Wizards and Celtics. Their rivalry reached a new level last season with funeral games mixed in with some hard screens and flagrant fouls. Gordon Hayward’s addition to Boston will add even more star power to a matchup that will feature John Wall, Isaiah Thomas and Bradley Beal.
The Celtics beat the Wizards in seven games in the Eastern Conference Semifinal last year and then added Hayward and Jayson Tatum. And Jaylen Brown is a year older. The Wizards, for the most part, just kept their roster intact. The Celtics should have a clear-cut edge in this matchup.
With these teams potentially competing for position at the top of the Eastern Conference, this game will provide both teams with a chance to make a statement.
Philadelphia 76ers @ New York Knicks – 12:00 PM ET
This matchup couldn’t possibly be any higher on this list but that doesn’t mean it won’t make for an entertaining undercard. The 76ers have had a strong offseason as they’ve added J.J. Redick to a lineup that is loaded with young talent. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are expected to transform the 76ers in to a contender this season. And don’t forget about Dario Saric, who was in the conversation for Rookie of the Year last year.
Meanwhile, the Knicks still have Carmelo Anthony on their roster – for now – and Kristaps Porzingis isn’t going anywhere. Of course, seeing the Knicks on Christmas Day is a classic, but this Knicks team is still a joke. They’ll either be in rebuilding mode or full-on rebuilding mode. Neither option is particularly appealing.
While it won’t compare to the marquee matchups on the bill, it could be a good enough warmup to keep us entertained until the Cavaliers-Warriors showdown.
The 2017 NBA futures are out. It’s been a wild offseason already, but keep an eye on the betting lines as they move around at Diamond Sportsbook! Get the latest NBA betting lines right here.
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