When the schedule was announced for the NBA’s Christmas Day games, the five matchups all seemed pretty appealing due to all of the talent and the fact that most of the teams involved were expected to be in the playoff hunt.
While interest in other Christmas Day games has certainly faded quite a bit, the level of intrigue regarding the San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets matchup is still high. After all, what better Christmas present is there than two teams that can score 100+ points on any given night facing off with one another.
While you can almost surely expect a fun matchup between Tim Duncan and Dwight Howard on the interior on Christmas, the key to this game may actually come down to the backcourt. Rockets point guard Jeremy Lin returned to action this Monday, which boosts Houston’s effectiveness offensively. However, Lin being back in the lineup also opens up the strong possibility of Spurs point guard Tony Parker, even higher.
As has been the case over what feels like forever, Parker is one of the best in the league in temrs of his ability to penetrate and then create scoring opportunities for both himself and his teammates.
Coming back to Lin, who will likely be matched up with Parker to start this game, having to contain Parker is likely too tall of a task for him. While Lin has been a great spark offensively when he’s been healthy, his defensive ability isn’t even close to being at a high level. While Houston could also run Patrick Beverley out on Parker, that would hurt the Rockets’ offense. In case you didn’t know, making your offense less effective is a terrible idea against the Spurs.
Parker is the key to this game and the reason why I’d have to lean towards San Antonio pulling out the win on Christmas Day. Parker has proven he can be effective against almost anyone with his scoring and playmaking ability, but giving him a matchup against a defensive unit that struggles on the perimeter likely means Parker will have a monster day and will lead San Antonio to victory.