Christmas Basketball, A Family tradition

Ranking the slate of Christmas Day NBA games was harder than you think

Lebron and the Lakers are ready for Christmas. Harry How/Getty Images

Christmas is my favorite holiday of the year. There's something about the surprises that come with the day that still get me. Eating until you literally cannot stuff another bite in your mouth. Exchanging gifts with people and enjoying their genuine joy, or their convincing lie covering their disappointment. Most of all, reuniting with the family to bond over the same things year after year.

As the NBA Christmas schedule has become more polarizing, it has become a tradition for there to be basketball on the television all day. Not everyone is pleased by that, but it is nothing hiding the television remote cannot fix.

Per usual, the line up this year features several high profile games, and the majority of them feel like playoff match ups. It has become a thought now that the NBA season does not really begin until the Christmas Day slate. With the active effort that the NBA makes to deliver thrilling match ups, it is hard not to agree.

In the spirit of Christmas, I sat down like a judgmental aunt and ranked these match ups. Are some of the factors outside of basketball? Of course, but what judgmental aunt is rational?

5. 11 a.m. Central-Milwaukee Bucks at New York Knicks

Listen, I get it, the New York market has to get its shine. But the 9-25 Knicks are not making anyone bat an eye. Sure, there is a potential for upside on this team, but that is not happening on Christmas Day. Forget it. In wrestling there is something called an enhancement match, or squash match if you want to be more brash about it. Essentially, in a squash match, the losing opponent's only job is to make their opponent look good. This game is nothing more than a chance for Giannis Antetokounmpo to Braun Strowman the James Ellsworth of the NBA, the New York Knicks.

4. 9:30 p.m. Central-Portland Trail Blazers at Utah Jazz

This game has playoff matchup written all over it. Sure, the Utah Jazz are currently sitting under .500 but with as tight as the West is looking to be, I am not letting this deter my excitement. I need to see Donovan Mitchell and Damian Lillard exchange baskets, I need Joe Ingles to hit a ridiculous three at the end of the game so I can catch it on Sports Center the next morning. Lets face it, as much as I am a fan of Mitchell, there is no stopping the Tamale Food Coma that I will be in by half time. Sorry, Spider.

3. 4:30 p.m. Central-Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics

Speaking of playoff match ups, this was one last year in the semifinals of the Eastern Conference. As we all know, the 76ers unceremoniously bowed out of the playoffs losing the series 4-1 to the Celtics. That team did not have Jimmy Butler, though. What's that? The Celtics didn't have Hayward OR Irving? So you're telling me both teams got more star power this season? What else is there to be said? I am apologizing to my aunts now. No, we are not watching one those weird the birth of Jesus movies on Univision. An Eastern Conference Playoff preview will be on. Hell, this could be a preview to the Eastern Conference Finals, if the Toronto Raptors do not have anything to say about it.

2. 2 p.m. Central-Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets

Up to a few days ago, this was, without a doubt, the No. 1 game on this list. Did the Rowdies try to bribe me? Maybe, it is the Holidays so I needed the extra cash. Once their check bounced, or Chris Paul's injury happened, I was not as excited as a I originally was. The Thunder are quietly one of the best teams in the NBA. The Rockets, for all their struggles this season, have finally began to pick up some steam. With Harden having like his 50th straight MVP caliber season, and Russ and PG13 clicking on all cylinders, this game will clearly have some memorable moments. Unfortunately for us, we will not see this Rockets team at one 100 percent for this game, but hopefully that is not a sign of what is to come. I was torn between where to place this game after the CP3 injury (the top three are so tight, to me). But then, the Rockets decided to sign AUSTIN FREAKIN RIVERS. The guy who instigated the Locker Room fight that happened but they later tried to tell us did not happen and then said, forget it, it maybe happened? THAT guy is teammates with CHRIS PAUL and JAMES HARDEN? I am here for the drama, and the NBA Gods are the best sports Gods.

1. 7 p.m. Central-Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State Warriors

Am I a LeBron Stan? Sure. Do I often think about him one day being the President of The United States? Maybe (he can officially run in 2024, for those of you that are wondering). The fact of the matter is LeBron and his mix of youth and veterans you would have never thought he would team up with has been a fun watch this season. The opponent? The establishment. The team that crushes everyone's soul. The team that has never cared about your feelings and is not about to start to care about your feelings. The biggest rival of his career not named Dan Gilbert. The Rock to LeBron's Stone Cold . Sure, the Warriors should win this game. But, let us not forget, this is the NBA and Christmas Miracles are real. This will be the first time the Lakers face off with the Warriors in the regular season this year. More importantly, this is the first time LeBron and Durant face off since Durant's comments about the enviroment that comes with playing with LeBron. I am all here for the drama. For LeBron to give Durant a side eye after the comments he made a few weeks ago, to watch Javale McGee smash on his former team, For Klay Thompson and LeBron to exchange a friendly conversation that leads to rumors of his impending free agency. No one is better at creating controversy than LeBron James, and on the biggest stage of the year, so far, something is going to happen. That alone makes this game the most exciting one of the Christmas Day slate.

Whew, being the judgmental aunt was harder than I thought it would be. All in all, there are factors that makes every single one of these games exciting. Kudos got out to the association for killing the schedule, once again. The rule is making current and interesting match ups, something that the NFL's holiday schedule does not allow for, or it is something they do not care to address. Keep your Thanksgiving tackleball, I will take Christmas Day basketball 100 times out of 100.

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Houston has lost seven of eight

Mariners ride big fifth inning to series win over Astros

Jake Odorizzi earned his second loss as an Astro Sunday. Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images.

With the losing streak behind them by taking the middle game on Saturday night, the Astros returned to T-Mobile Park on Sunday afternoon to try and make it back-to-back victories to take the series. Instead, they'd suffer their seventh loss in the last eight games.

Final Score: Mariners 7, Astros 2

Astros' Record: 7-8, fourth in the AL West

Winning Pitcher: Ljay Newsome (1-0)

Losing Pitcher: Jake Odorizzi (0-2)

Odorizzi locks in through four while Houston grabs a lead

Jake Odorizzi did not start his afternoon the way he needed to in order to have a good rebound outing compared to his first start. In the 37-pitch first inning, he issued two walks and an RBI-single, putting the Mariners at a significant advantage early. Odorizzi flipped the switch, though, finding a rhythm to retire the next ten batters after that RBI-single to get through four innings with just one run allowed.

Offensively for Houston, they quickly responded to Seattle's run in the first with one of their own in the top of the second, capitalizing on some shoddy defense by Seattle to get Carlos Correa to second to set up an RBI ground-rule double by Aledmys Diaz, tying things up 1-1. It stayed that way until the top of the fifth when a leadoff walk by Chas McCormick would turn into a run after a stolen base and two sacrifice flys to give Houston a 2-1 lead.

Mariners explode for four in the fifth

The lead was short-lived, as Seattle would explode in the bottom of the fifth, getting a leadoff single and one-out walk to set up a two-RBI triple by Mitch Haniger to go ahead 3-2. That would prompt Dusty Baker out of the dugout to end Odorizzi's day and move on to Brooks Raley. Raley would not fare any better, giving up a two-run homer to Ty France to extend Seattle's new lead to 5-2. He would finish the inning, putting Odorizzi's line final: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 89 P.

Seattle takes the series

Seattle would strike again in the bottom of the seventh against Joe Smith. After a leadoff walk, the Mariners would get back-to-back one-out RBI-doubles to extend their lead to 7-2. After Smith in the seventh, Peter Solomon would make his major-league debut in the bottom of the eighth and work around a one-out walk for a scoreless inning. Houston would then come up empty in the top of the ninth, dropping the finale and the series to Seattle.

Up Next: The Astros will travel to Denver tonight and get an off day tomorrow. Tuesday night, they'll start a quick two-game set with the Rockies at 7:40 PM Central. Houston currently has Lance McCullers Jr. (1-1, 5.27 ERA) penciled in as their starter, but with ongoing illness, he has not yet been fully confirmed. For the Rockies, Jon Gray (1-1, 2.87 ERA) is expected to start.

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