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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Rockets get another much-needed win. Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images.

The Houston Rockets went on a redemption tour by beating the Detroit Pistons and Dallas Mavericks. But the most pivotal win was against the Mavericks as the Rockets finally showed their true potential. John Wall finally made his return from his injury hiatus and played with a lot of energy. DeMarcus Cousins and Eric Gordon combined for 61 points. It was great to see Stephan Silas crack a smile as he was able to beat his former team.

The Rockets clearly missed Wall during his eight-game absense. This season, the Rockets are a .500 team with Wall on the court. Wall is the Rockets' floor general that leads, constructs, and also pushes his teammates to become better.

Wall only played 21 minutes in the 133-108 win over the Mavericks but still had eight assists. Even though Wall only had 7 points, his presence was still felt by finding his teammates for open looks beyond the perimeter. Wall made sure Cousins and Gordon got a plethora of touches. He called multiple actions, so they got open looks from three, which was mainly Gordon. Gordon and Cousins' struggles have been similar but with Wall on the court, they were successful against the Mavericks. According to NBA Stats, Wall posted a 111 offensive rating with the starters versus the Mavericks, which included Gordon and Cousins.

"He's the engine to this team. He gets everybody going. He makes the game easy," Cousins told a reporter after the game. "The pressure that he constantly puts on the defense is a tough thing to deal with."

Gordon has struggled all season long with three-point shooting and relied on his slashing abilities. Saturday night, Gordon made six three pointers against the Mavericks, which was 66 percent from beyond the perimeter. Gordon increased his three-point percentage from 31 percent to 34.5 percent after Saturday night's game. Gordon's 33 points came from being able to attack the entire Mavericks' defense. Willy Cauley-Stein didn't stand a chance against Gordon as he was burned multiple times. Gordon's been a lifesaver for the Rockets in the last two games, and hopefully he maintains his play.

Cousins played fantastic against the Mavericks scoring 28 points and grabbing 17 rebounds. This is Cousins' first double-double with the Rockets this season. Cousins became the vintage player from the New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. It was extremely fun watching Cousins push the ball up the court and aggressively snatch rebounds. Boogie shot 50 percent from behind the arc by making four three-pointers. He was dominant inside the paint as Cousins went 7/8 from the restricted area versus the Mavericks. This was the game Cousins needed after having a poor performance against the Pistons Friday night.

"It was really, really good. He did it all. He's a physical presence on both ends of the floor," as Silas said on Cousins' performance.

David Nwaba and Mason Jones were big factors off the Rockets' bench by having a combined total of 34 points together. Nwaba has been great in transition for the Rockets the entire season. Keep in mind that Nwaba is returning from an Achilles injury he suffered with his former team, the Brooklyn Nets. Nwaba has became a great defender, slasher, and is averaging a career-high nine points per game with the Rockets. He finished with 18 points on Saturday night versus the Mavericks.

Mason Jones has become a fan favorite of the Rockets because of his confidence. Silas is loving the usage of Jones off the bench but wants to find more minutes for him. Jones had a breakout performance versus the San Antonio Spurs with 24 points off 66 percent shooting from the field. He continues to get better with his reads from the point guard position. Jones' knowledge of running the offense has helped his efficiency on the court. He is never afraid to take clutch shots in pivotal moments of the game.

"To have a young kid who can come in and not be afraid of the moment, that's big. That's a tough position to be in as an undrafted rookie. I trust him. It's a good problem to have," Silas mentioned after the game. "He's showing me he's ready. He's a confident kid, and he should be. That's why he's good. He's not afraid of the moment, at all. He can get us organized, run plays, and score the basketball."

Hopefully, the Rockets can sustain their level of play when Victor Oladipo returns against the Washington Wizards, Tuesday. It will be interesting to watch Oladipo and Wall play in the same backcourt.

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