The NBA has some huge match-ups lined up for Christmas Day, none bigger than the meeting of the Miami Heat and LA Lakers in the Staples Center.
Heat can burn Lakers
The return of Andrew Bynum from injury will help Los Angeles down the stretch but it could have a detrimental effect in the short-term. The Lakers rhythm has been disrupted a little by adjusting to his return. Eventually it will be worth it but for now LA are vulnerable. Wednesday’s defeat at home to the Bucks showed these Lakers are not playing at the pace they started the year with and that should play into the hands of the visiting Miami Heat. LeBron James is spending his second straight Christmas in Los Angeles, having won there with the Cavaliers last season. Despite a recent loss to Dallas, the Heat have raised their game substantially over the past few weeks. This game won’t mean a lot in April but right now momentum is with Miami. Bet on the Miami Heat to win on Christmas Day.
Celtics can keep streak going
The Orlando Magic know all about the awkwardness of adjusting their line-up mid-season. Their recent trade to bring in Hedo Turkoglu and Gilbert Arenas could pay off eventually but so far the new arrivals have yet to gel with their new team-mates. That should be bad news against a Boston Celtics team that is currently enjoying a 14-game winning streak. Rajon Rondo remains out of action for Boston and while Nate Robinson isn’t a long-term fix, he should be able to carry the load at point guard until Rondo’s return. Paul Pierce will be eager to make up for an off night against the Sixers on Wednesday, so look out for The Truth to put up good numbers. I like Boston to win on the road and maintain their winning streak.
Knicks and Thunder should shine
Wednesday’s win over OKC was crucial for the New York Knicks. They needed to show they could come back against a good team after having their streak snapped by the Celtics and Heat last week. They face a Bulls team on Saturday that is having to make do without Joakim Noah for the next few weeks. In the battle for the fourth seed, this game could be crucial to the psychology of both teams going forward. I like the Knicks to win in a tight game. For their part, OKC know that it’s vital they treat Wednesday’s defeat as an aberration. The Nuggets don’t travel well, which should play into the Thunder’s favor, but the talent on this Denver roster can’t be underestimated. I like OKC’s young stars to pull away in the fourth quarter.