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NBA Christmas Day Preview

December 24, 2011

From least desirable to watch to most desirable:

5. Boston at New York – Madison Square Garden is going to be rocking Sunday morning with the Knicks in their best shape in recent memory. The addition of Tyson Chandler will help solidify the interior defense, and bringing in defensive-minded assistant Mike Woodson will also help. The Knicks have the two best players – Carmelo and Amar’e – on either team and should be able to feed off the MSG energy. I can see Carmelo going off for 40 tomorrow. The Celtics have their chemistry already figured out and know how to play together, but they’ll probably be without Paul Pierce. The Celtics’ second unit consists of Avery Bradley, Keyon Dooling, Marquis Daniels, Brandon Bass and Chris Wilcox. Stop laughing. Kevin Garnett might taunt you. The Knicks’ second unit isn’t much better, but they have enough firepower regardless to get the first win of the season. Knicks 101 Celtics 94

4. Orlando at Oklahoma City – The Zombie Sonics come in to the 2011-12 season with high expectations. They’ve almost unanimously been selected as the favorites to win the West this year. Orlando was shaky at best in the preseason, and you know everyone on the Magic is thinking about the Dwight Howard situation. Meanwhile Oklahoma City’s biggest worry is whether James Harden will start or win the sixth man of the year award. The Magic have good depth and still have some shooters, but those shooters are just that and don’t do much else on the floor. Their roster is full of overpaid under-performers. I’m sure the Thunder will let Howard get his and shut down everyone else. However, in 2009-10, Kendrick Perkins’ last full season with the C’s, Howard shot 46 percent from the field and only posted 12 points a game against the Celtics. So it’s quite possible tomorrow’s game could be a rout. The Thunder, just like the Knicks, will feed off their home crowd and get off to a good start to the season. Thunder 103 Magic 89

3. Chicago at Los Angeles Lakers – Questions surround the Lakers right now: How will they fair without Bynum for the first four games? How will Kobe’s wrist hold up? Who’s their fourth best player (Luke Walton?)? How much money will Kobe have to pay in alimony? Josh McRoberts, Matt Barnes and Derek Fisher will be starting tomorrow, I assume. Which means Kobe will go about 9-27 from the field. The Lakers simply just don’t have enough offense to compete right now, and they won’t be fully immersed in new coach Mike Brown’s gameplan. Rose, Hamilton, Deng, Boozer, Noah, Gibson. I could go on and on. Rose will put on a show tomorrow, and I expect a strong game from Boozer, too. The Lakers are nowhere near the Bulls’ class. The Bulls will dominate in all facets of the game tomorrow and hopefully, for the players’ sake, the Lakers aren’t planning on passing out any foam fingers again like they did in 2009. Chicago 94 Los Angeles 86

2. Miami at Dallas – This game will be better well-rounded than the No. 1 game of the day, but it won’t be as fun. But that’s nothing against either team. I’m predicting big things from the Heat this year, just like everyone else really. I mean, they made it to the Finals with three stars and 9 carcasses last year. But the addition of Shane Battier will help on both sides of the court, and rookie Norris Cole should provide some offense. Who knows, Eddy Curry might be effective this year. OK, I’m wrong there. But the Heat should be better and run a lot of people out of the gym this year. Dallas will really miss Tyson Chandler, J.J. Barea, Caron Butler and DeShawn Stevenson. They’ve only got two above-average players, in Dirk and Odom, and Dirk will have to do a lot to keep this game close. Miami 99 Dallas 90

1. Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State – This game should be fun. Hopefully Steph Curry can play; he’s battling an ankle injury. And if he does you’ll have four of the most exciting players in the league on the court tomorrow night. Add in David Lee and the highlight-reel DeAndre Jordan, and you’ve got yourself an exciting ballgame. Chris Paul will put up 17-6-13 tomorrow, with most of the assists coming off alley oops and wide open 3s from Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler. New GSW coach Mark Jackson wants his team to focus on defense this year, but the personnel he has just won’t allow for that. Griffin and Jordan will take care of business inside and Lob Angeles will win. Los Angeles 111 Golden State 102

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