This season’s NBA Christmas Day matchups, for the most part, lived up to the hype. Though few were expected to be fairly competitive, the games did not disappoint; no team won by more than ten points.
Next season’s Christmas Day games need to be the same, and there are a few matchups that could be added to not only improve ratings, but improve quality play as well. Here’s a look at some potential matchups that could take place Christmas of 2016.
1. A Finals Rematch
This is basically a given. The Cleveland Cavaliers/Golden State Warriors contest Christmas afternoon was the best game of them all. Not only was the game highly competitive, but the game displayed two of the best teams in the NBA.
A rematch of the NBA Finals should take place every Christmas. I know that the holiday is all about love and joy, but who wouldn’t want to see two teams clawing and fighting it out: one to avenge their loss the prior season, and the other to remain on top. These games are not only good but are great for basketball.
2. New York Knicks vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
This isn’t a sexy pick by all means, but it could be a fun matchup not for just Knicks and Wolves’ fans, but for the rest of the NBA.
Each team has arguably the next Rookie of the Year on their squad: Kristaps Porzingis on New York and Karl-Anthony Towns in Minnesota. Add in a probable matchup of the high-flying Andrew Wiggins against volume scorer Carmelo Anthony, and you’ve got an intriguing game just between the four of them.
Not only will the stars draw a crowd, but the supporting cast should grab a few views, too. The game would feature two of the league’s best passers (Jose Calderon and Ricky Rubio), high-flyers (Zach LaVine, Shabazz Muhammad), and savvy veterans (Arron Afflalo, Robin Lopez, Nikola Pekovic).
3. Dallas Mavericks vs. Houston Rockets
Not only is this a classic rivalry, but it could be a great matchup as well. The Rockets have seemingly found their way this season under interim head coach J.B. Bickerstaff, while the steady Mavs are sitting in the middle of the playoff picture in the Western Conference. Despite still having a long way to go this season, don’t be surprised if these two matchup in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
Dallas, right now, has had the most success between the two in the last five years. Though the Rockets did dominate the former team last year in the first round of the NBA Playoffs, the Mavs have that 2011 Championship ring, something that James Harden and the Rockets came so close (well, they played the Warriors in the Conference Finals, so kinda, but not really) to winning last season.
Both are always contenders in the free agent market, so this matchup could include two big-time signings (including Kevin Durant, maybe?) along with superstars already present.
4. San Antonio Spurs vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
Assuming that once again, the Warriors take the West, this marquee matchup between the Spurs and Thunder would do nothing other than appease the basketball gods.
Kevin Durant would most likely still be in OKC for this matchup to happen, but since there’s a large chance that he does stay, I wouldn’t doubt that this is one of the Christmas Day games next season.
The Spurs and Thunder kinda-sorta developed a rivalry over the past couple of years. From 2011-2014, these two teams were the top contenders in the West, and in two of those years, they squared off in the Western Conference Finals. This would be a great Christmas Day game.
5. Indiana Pacers vs. Miami Heat
The rivalry between the two teams has died down since LeBron James left Miami, but this game would still be a great matchup.
Both teams still have superstars from their previous playoff encounters. Paul George, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh still remain on their respective teams. Adding in Monta Ellis and potentially Hassan Whiteside as well (though he may leave in the offseason) makes this matchup even more intriguing.
The two teams are also in similar positions currently. Both have the look of middle-of-the-pack teams that are one piece away from contending. This would definitely be a fun contest to watch.
6. Chicago Bulls vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
This matchup would all depend on if the heavily favored Cleveland Cavaliers DON’T make the 2016 NBA Finals.
A Bulls/Cavs game with LeBron back in Cleveland feels like a classic rivalry, even though it’s really not. The friction between the two teams has resulted more from LeBron always knocking out Derrick Rose’s Bulls every year in the playoffs, whether he be on the Cavaliers or the Miami Heat.
The amount of talent in this game is not lacking. Jimmy Butler, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, Derrick Rose, and Pau Gasol (if he re-signs in the offseason) are all big-time players, not to mention LeBron.
Basically, the rivalry is centered around the King, but it would still be an interesting game to watch regardless.