It’s Christmas Eve, which means we’re only one day away from five high-profile games on ESPN, ABC and ESPN App.
Zion Williamson will make his debut on Christmas Day, when the New Orleans Pelicans compete against the reigning eastern conference champion in Miami Heat.
Stephen Curry, back from a broken left hand, leads the Golden State Warriors against the double MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks.
Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving returns to Boston after missing both games last season due to an injury – and he will be accompanied by a healthy Kevin Durant.
Two shows in Los Angeles were the highlight of the evening: LeBron James and reigning Los Angeles Lakers champion faced MVP candidate Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks with Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and the Los Angeles Clippers on the Florida Bubble after the shocking debacle of the Clippers in the playoffs against Denver.
Here’s what you need to know about the Five Game Party:
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Error! The file name is not specified. After missing last season’s Pelican Christmas Quiz, Zion Williamson has his chance on the big league podium. Carmen Mandato/Getty Images
Once again the NBA shows Zion Williamson in one of its showcases.
Fans lined up for his summer league debut in July 2019, although Williamson only played eight minutes. The league tried to include Williamson on last season’s opening night and Christmas Day, but he was sidelined until January due to an injury in the preseason. The Pelicans were also selected for national television, but again Williamson could only play 15 minutes.
Finally, Williamson was lucky enough to be one of the main players on NBA Marquee Day, alongside star Brandon Ingram, who recently signed a contract with Max.
On the Miami side, coffee crazy Bubbleheads and defending Eastern Conference champions are at the centre after the signing of Bam Adebayo’s contract at the maximum expansion level. The Heat also added Mo Harkless and Avery Bradley and wrote the precious Achiuwa Memphis.
And, of course, anyone could use a shot of Jimmy Butler at Christmas.
— Andrew Lopez
Error! The file name is not specified. Matchbetween Warriors and Bucks with the stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Stephen Curry, winners of the MVP. Noah Graham/Getty Images
Jingle Bells. Jingle Bells. Giannis walks down the aisle. Oh, how nice to see Steph Curry make it rain.
This confrontation between the Bucks and the Warriors is a holiday classic. Both teams have something to prove after a disappointing end of the 2019-20 season. Golden State missed the post-season for the first time since 2011-12, and the Bucs suffered a disappointing exit in the second round. Both groups will try to quickly find a chemistry with the new assortment.
Milwaukee is expected to work with several newcomers to Antetokounmpo, including Jrue Holiday, Torrey Craig, Bryn Forbes, D.J. Augustin and Bobby Portis.
I’m not sure there’s a more underestimated player in the NBA, Bucks goaltender Pat Connaughton said of Holiday. I think if you set it up with Chris [Middleton] and Giannis, it’s a big deal, and I’m not sure many people have really explained how big it is, but that’s what we want.
For Golden State, losing Klay Thompson for the second straight season after an Achilles tendon tear would be a big loss, but the current list includes a healthy Curry, supported by second overall, Andrew Wiggins, James Wiseman and the takeover of the Kelly Oubre Jr. wing.
Error! The file name is not specified. Kyrie Irving doesn’t have to wait long to face her former team in the TD Garden with a healthy Kevin Durant by her side. Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images
Just two years ago, Irving appeared at the TD Garden in Boston and announced that he hopes to stay with the franchise for many years to come. He left after this season. After flaunting his new pre-game ritual in Boston, Irving now returns to his long-awaited regular return to the building in a Christmas duel. After missing both games in Boston last season due to an injury, he will no longer face bowling fans.
The game also sets the Christmas scene for the Irving-Kevin Durant duo against a talented Celtic side who believe they can conquer the East. Young Celtic stars Jason Tatum and Jaylen Brown will show how much their game has changed since Irving left for Brooklyn.
If the opening night was an indication, Christmas should be another warning for the rest of the competition about the talent the Nets can have when their stars are on the pitch and creating opportunities for their teammates.
— Nick Friedell
Error! The file name is not specified. LeBron James vs. Luka Doncic is one of the most intriguing bachelor games of Christmas. Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports
In November 2018, Luka Doncic, a sheep, stood in line in front of the Lakers’ locker room at the Staples Center for a guard to give him a uniform signed by his childhood hero, LeBron James. Now Doncic’s gonna try to defeat James on Christmas Day.
The fact that the Mavericks face the reigning NBA champions, the Lakers, on match day is proof of Doncic’s metamorphosis. As exciting as it can be to see the Lakers take over the Heat in a final game, or to see the former champion Warriors, or to add a new chapter to the growing Lakers-Clippers intrigues, the NBA has always been working on the star system, and there’s nothing in tonight’s game that can match LeBron against Luka.
In Doncic, Dallas has a star many in the competition predict will win several MVPs and rings. James Lakers has someone to help him restore the franchise to its former glory as he tries to add more MVPs and rings to his CV (he has four each).
The NBA selection in this Christmas game also shows that the competition is at the centre. James is his face, but he is almost 36 years old and is starting his 18th season. Season, and his contemporaries either retired or switched to role-playing. Stars that are half a generation behind have injuries behind them (Curry, Durant and Irving), have not yet won any championships to confirm their status (Antetokounmpo, James Harden, Damian Lillard, Russell Westbrook, Joel Embiid and Butler), or lack the charisma or interest to reach the star status of James (Kawhi Leonard and Anthony Davis).
Add to that Zion Williamson’s injury problems during his new season, and the way is clear for 21-year-old Doncic to carry the torch for years to come in the way James had hoped since he was a youngster.
Error! The file name is not specified. Paul George and the Clippers have the opportunity to cast out some demons from the playoffs against the Nuggets. Garrett Ellwood/NBAE through Getty Images.
Just over three months after the embarrassing 3-1 loss of the Clippers in the second round of the playoffs, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and the company will once again compete against the Nuggets – and Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic will again try to be the troublemakers.
A lot has changed since the two teams played against each other. In Los Angeles, head coach Doc Rivers left the team and reigned sixth man of the year Montrezl Harrell. The Clippers count on new coach Ty Lew and a renewed staff to get the chemistry back on track. They also need free agent Serge Ibaka to play better against Jokic than Harrell.
Former Clipper JaMychal Green will play for the Nuggets after signing with Denver in free desk and being part of the Clippers rotation. The Nuggets will need Green’s help to make up for the loss of Grant Jerami, who signed with the Detroit Pistons after his breakthrough season.
Nonetheless, this burgeoning rivalry must come down to the protagonists, just as in the preliminaries. Murray and Jokic will play at the NBA Christmas scene, looking for the next stage after their run to the Western Conference finals. They hope to show a national audience that they are the most important competitor of the Lakers at the Western Conference.
— To Yongomisuk
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