NBA Christmas Day Games Score Predictions | Mark Medina
Written by: Mark Medina. Be sure to follow Mark on X (@MarkG_Medina).
Forget the countless presents and the multiple servings of eggnog. The NBA’s marquee games on Christmas Day continue to be the gift that keeps on giving.
For this year’s holiday slate, the NBA will showcase the past two NBA championship teams (Denver Nuggets vs Golden State Warriors), the league’s most historic rivalry (Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics), two playoff rematches (Miami Heat vs. Philadelphia 76ers; Phoenix Suns vs. Dallas Mavericks) and a recent In-Season Tournament matchup (New York Knicks vs. Milwaukee Bucks).
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How will those games play out? It could be as unpredictable as whether you receive everything on your holiday wishlist. But below is a primer on what to expect.
New York Knicks vs Milwaukee Bucks (noon ET)
By this point, the Knicks may have already felt tired of playing the Bucks. Milwaukee overwhelmed New York in the In-Season Tournament quarterfinals (146-122) and will also face them on Dec. 23. Without their prized defensive big man (Mitchell Robinson), the Knicks may become overwhelmed with containing Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Expect the Knicks’ pride to kick in with their blue-collar mentality and with playing host on Christmas Day. They have an elite point guard (Jalen Brunson), a versatile forward (Julius Randle) and plenty of depth (Immanuel Quickley, Donte DiVincenzo, Josh Hart, Isiah Hartenstein) to give the Bucks some headaches.
After all, the Bucks aren’t an elite defensive team and Khris Middleton hasn’t become a dependable third option just yet. Nonetheless, Antetokounmpo and Damian Lillard have mostly become unstoppable on offense.
Final Score Prediction: Bucks 123, Knicks 113
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Denver Nuggets vs. Golden State Warriors (2:30 pm ET)
Talk about a role reversal. The Warriors dominated the Nuggets in a first-round matchup two years ago that made Denver wonder what would have happened if it had a healthy Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. With the Nuggets fielding a mostly healthy roster leading into Christmas Day, the Warriors may wonder what could have happened if not for Draymond Green’s indefinite suspension.
Green would have given the Warriors their best chance in at least slowing down Nuggets center Nikola Jokic. Unlike that first-round matchup, Denver has since won an NBA title because of a healthy Murray and Porter as well as more developed Aaron Gordon. The Warriors will lean heavily on Stephen Curry, but he will also need Klay Thompson and Andrew Wiggins to help him. The Warriors haven’t found them as dependable as during their championship season two years ago.
Final Score Prediction: Nuggets 120, Warriors 115
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Boston Celtics (5 pm ET)
One team recently has played its best basketball (Boston), another team has nursed a post In-Season Tournament hangover (LA). While the Celtics have thrived offensively and defensively, the Lakers are mostly dependent on LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Boston center Kristaps Porzingis has returned recently from injury, yet the Lakers have nagging ailments among their stars and role players.
No doubt, both the Lakers and Celtics will field a highly competitive game for what could become a Finals preview as both teams strive to become the first franchise to win an NBA-record 18 championships. Despite the Lakers’ home-court advantage, the Celtics can depend on their better health and talent.
Final Score Prediction: Celtics 125, Lakers 118
Miami Heat vs. Philadelphia 76ers (8 pm ET)
Let’s just hope this game features more marquee players on the court than in the trainer’s room. Dismiss the Heat at your own peril, but they have fallen toward Play-In contending status thus far amid overlapping injuries to Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Kyle Lowry and Kevin Love.
Meanwhile, the Sixers have thrived ever since trading a certain point guard that conceded feeling limited with having to embrace more of a playmaking role (James Harden). While Sixers big man Joel Embiid has mirrored his scoring, rebounding and assist numbers from last season, Tyrese Maxey has become an immediate Most Improved Player candidate. Heat Culture won’t allow a lopsided game. Nonetheless, the Sixers will manage just fine with a healthier roster.
Final Score Prediction: Sixers 122, Heat 112
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Phoenix Suns vs. Dallas Mavericks (10:30 pm ET)
Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving will square off for the second time since both separately requested to the Nets to trade them, a matchup that inevitably will yield what-if moments with their injury-riddled partnership in Brooklyn. Here’s another what if: how would the Suns have fared if Bradley Beal was healthy for this Christmas game?
Durant and Devin Booker will surely produce with their own efficient scoring and ability to play off-the-ball. Without Beal’s additional scoring and playmaking, however, the Suns will struggle topping the chemistry that Luka Doncic and Irving have forged. More importantly, the Mavericks have bolstered their defense with a proven rookie (Dereck Lively II) and veteran (Grant Williams). The Suns have solid role players (Jusuf Nurkic, Eric Gordon, Grayson Allen, Yuta Watanabe), but certainly not enough to contain the Mavs’ prolific offense.
Final Score Prediction: Mavs 120, Suns 115