'Twas the Night Before Christmas

By Vince Cunningham

I can’t sleep, which I know is a common problem for people on Christmas Eve. However, my insomnia is not a result of the anticipation of Santa Claus or Jolly St. Nick, but rather the long awaited 2011/2012 NBA season tip off.

Five games, all of which showcasing a plethora of stars and contenders. Among them we’ll see 75 percent the US “Redeem Team”, 10 Rookie of the year’s, 5 MVP’s, 4 Scoring Title Champs, and a partridge in a pear tree. All of them battling it out to get their respective team’s off on the right foot.

So, let’s take a look ahead and try to guess who will get their Christmas wish, and who will end up with a putrid lump of coal.

Boston Celtics vs New York Knicks 12:00 PM EST

The originators of the much copied championship blueprint, Boston’s “Big 3” are just past there prime, and New York’s version is still on the rise. However, for all their youth and talent the Knicks are the anti-Celtics. Knowing full well that his trio of stars would get their production, Doc Rivers built his team around defense. That “D word” is one that Mike D’Antoni cannot even pronounce. Although their window is closing quick, Boston’s experience and discipline should prevail over New York’s offensive barrage.

Miami Heat vs Dallas Mavericks 2:30 PM EST

In this rematch of last year’s NBA finals, I’m anticipating the opposite results. While Dallas added some solid veteran players (Vince Carter and Lamar Odom) in this off-season, they also lost starting center Tyson Chandler. And although Miami’s “Super Team” project didn’t work out  the way they had expected last year, with a full season under their belt and months of living with their own disappointment, they should come out of the gate on a mission.

Chicago Bulls vs Los Angeles Lakers 5:00 PM EST

This is a matchup that easily could’ve been last year’s Championship bout. Both the Bulls and Lakers were knocked out of the playoffs by their respective conference champions. However, since last post-season these two teams have gone in opposite directions. The Lakers have been all over the news, with multi-player trade attempts which would have resulted in a franchise shakeup of enormous proportions . But after deals fell through, what they were left with was locker room in turmoil, a banged up franchise player and new man drawing up plays on the clipboard. Meanwhile, Chicago has quietly added necessary pieces to their roster (Rip Hamilton and Jimmy Butler), which should only open up more lanes for reigning MVP, Derrick Rose. This off-season also allowed their “big 3” to get rested up and healthy. Keep in mind the Bulls finished last year with the best record in the NBA, and that was with Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer missing a combined 57 games. Not to mention a starting shooting guard, Keith Bogans, who averaged a dismal 4 points a game. Chicago’s starting five may not be as flashy as some other teams in the league, but they will build off of last year’s success and take it to the next level this season. Starting out in tomorrow’s Christmas opener.

Orlando Magic vs Oklahoma City Thunder 8:00 PM EST

After months of uncertainty, the Magic open their season with Dwight Howard still on the roster, but they did little else to build around him. They still have a formitable team that will be difficult to match up with on a regular basis, however Oklahoma City should take the season opener. Like Chicago, OKC has made a few small, yet very necessary changes to their lineup. They’re more balanced, more seasoned and they have the greatest scorer in the NBA. I fully expect Durant to go off tomorrow for 40 plus and lead them to victory.

Los Angeles Clippers vs Golden State Warriors 10:30 PM EST

This is the only Christmas matchup that I have no doubts about. The Clippers have been the big winners of the off season, adding all world point guard, Chris Paul, to their squad. CP3 plus Blake Griffin seems like a can’t miss combination. Not to mention the additions of reliable veteran players like Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler. The Clippers are the hot team of the year, and it’s only a matter of time till Jack Nicholson is sitting court-side in red and blue. As for the other bench, I honestly don’t know why the Warriors are playing on this grand stage? Their two best players are either injured or involved in law suits, and the rest of the team is merely mediocre. Everyone else playing tomorrow is a Championship contender, except for them. The Clippers will win this one handedly.

Follow me on Twitter @VinceC23

You May Also Like