NBA Christmas Day Preview: Cleveland Cavaliers Take On Golden State Warriors

NBA Christmas Day Preview: Cleveland Cavaliers Take On Golden State Warriors
15:45, 22 Dec 2017

The NBA has long-since held games on Christmas Day, but it has truly delivered some of the best
possible match ups this time around. Many of the league’s biggest stars will be in action as five
headline-grabbing games all take place, providing eleven hours of action and plenty of enticing
head to head clashes for fans to enjoy.

Below is a look at each of the five games scheduled to take place and the storylines surrounding
them as a number of big name players look set to make their comebacks on December 25th.

Philadelphia 76ers at New York Knicks

Much has changed in the Big Apple, Carmelo Anthony’s departure for Oklahoma City putting the
team firmly on the back of Kristaps Porzingis. The Latvian has not looked back since his former
team-mate departed, displaying exactly the kind of prowess that has seen him identified as a
potential superstar since the moment he first pulled on the blue and orange.

Free from the shackles of Phil Jackson's obsession with the triangle offense, Porzingis will likely
line up directly opposite Joel Embiid, the driving force behind the Sixers playoff push. His love of
trash talk and outspoken personality ensure he is always the centre of attention and he certainly
looks much healthier now than earlier in his career.

Flanked by J.J. Redick and the equally exciting Ben Simmons, it’s not difficult to understand why
the NBA would want to feature the 76ers on a national stage and this clash is designed to
showcase two teams hoping to forge ahead into 2018 and beyond.

Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors

Given that they have played each other in the NBA Finals for the past three seasons, does this
fixture really need an introduction? Surprisingly, the answer is probably yes as both teams have
undergone some testing times of late and will not look the same way they did when they met back
in June.

The Warriors will likely be without injured point guard Steph Curry, an ankle issue – which the team
said this week was “healing well” almost certainly ruling him out. The Davidson College graduate
has been sidelined since December 4th and yet the reigning champions have been rolling along
without him, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson all playing their part.

For the Cavs, the burden carried by Lebron James remains staggering, with Isaiah Thomas not
expected to suit up for the first time until the New Year. "I'm just trying to get as close as 100
percent as possible and to be out there to be special, not just to be out there and be another body,”
the former Celtics star said this week. “However long that takes - it might be next week, it might be
a week after that. We don't know and we're really not trying to put a date on it because it just
depends on how my recovery is.”

Washington Wizards at Boston Celtics

Thomas’s old team will replay their Eastern Conference semifinal clash on Christmas Day, fans
hoping for the same drama that typified their seven-game series at the end of last season. Kyrie
Irving now runs the show for Celtics and he has been in unstoppable form, helped by the likes of
Marcus Smart, Al Horford, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum.

For the Wizards, it is once again their backcourt leading the way, John Wall and Bradley Beal
delivering the goods in the nation’s capital as usual. They won 49 games last year and have been
equally good this time around.

Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder

If it’s firepower you want, then this is undoubtedly the game not to miss. James Harden, Chris
Paul, Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony on the same floor should be electric,
but the visitors could well record a comfortable victory if recent form is anything to go by.
The Rockets have been simply unstoppable with Harden and Paul in tandem, each feeding off the
other and bringing the best from their newest team-mate. Meanwhile, the opposite is true in OKC
where the trio of All Stars have simply failed to click and Coach Billy Donovan looks increasingly
frustrated at their lack of cohesion.

Minnesota Timberwolves at Los Angeles Lakers

If the previous encounter is one of established stars, the day’s final game is perhaps a glimpse into
the future. Both the Lakers and the T-Wolves are stacked with promising young players, all of
whom will be looking to put on a show as many of them make their Christmas debut at the Staples
Centre.

Despite boasting Jimmy Butler, Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins, the visitors have been
poor defensively, while Lonzo Ball continues to divide opinion with his pass-first approach and his
odd looking jump shot. Fellow rookie Kyle Kuzma has arguably outshone the No.2 overall pick,
and it will be interesting to see which team comes out on top here in a difficult-to- call encounter
between two rising teams.

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