The new NBA season in still a couple of months away, but the excitement and intensity of the NBA Africa Game played in Pretoria on Saturday, made a casting into the future inevitable. The many close season moves have guaranteed that there will be many intriguing playoff matchups in the offing; however, one of the most interesting regular season fixtures are thrown-up on Christmas Day, and here are some we would like to see…
Los Angeles Lakers vs Cleveland Cavaliers. While this may, ordinarily, not be a top-notch fixture because of their different conference placements, the LeBron James link would make it a crowd favourite, no matter where it is played. The fixture at the Quicken Loans Arena would provide Cleveland fans a chance to either say goodbye to LeBron, or show him their discontent; while the fixture at Staples Center will give Lakers fans a chance to see how the king will react to his former teammates. And neutral fans will love to see how powerful the LeBron influence is…from the result. They split the season series last season, after Cavaliers had won the previous seven.
Toronto Raptors vs San Antonio Spurs. It doesn’t matter where this one is played: be it Texas or Toronto, both sets of fans would have something to say to their former players and what a game it would be. An angry DeMar DeRozan in front of fans who had adored him for the years of excellent service in Toronto; or Kawhi Leonard in front of angry fans who don’t understand what he did. Both players would go at it all night, and neutral fans would enjoy Christmas cheer.
Golden State Warriors vs Houston Rockets. The Finals that couldn’t be, would be perfect at Christmas. Both teams are in the same conference, so they will never meet in the Finals; that would mean the Western Conference Finals would be lit again this season, as both are still ranked 1 and 2 which points to another dramatic series, come late May. But it would be good to see them go at it early on…the rockets would get some pent up frustration out of their system, and the Warriors will have the chance to confirm their superiority…or not
Indiana Pacers vs Cleveland Cavaliers. Many in Indiana, maybe some in Cleveland and a lot of neutral fans would have concluded that the Pacers would have made it past the first round of the playoffs if the Cavs had been without LeBron. The seven-game loss must still smart in Indiana, so, a LeBron-less Cavaliers served up for them at Christmas (for carving) would be perfect. And should they get a win, should add some Christmas cheer.
Boston Celtics vs Philadelphia 76ers. Joel Embiid and the Sixers were beaten black and blue by the Celtics at the conference semi-finals last season, and Celtics let them know it. The angst between Marcus Morris and Joel Embiid may have gone with the playoffs, or not. And this may be the game that will show just how deep the animosity will grow between these budding Eastern Conference power houses. Definitely a must-see Christmas fixture