What are my predictions for the biggest day on the NBA calendar?

Merry Christmas Eve! We have a great slate of basketball on the horizon!

NBA Christmas 2020 won’t be like most years. However, it will still feel good to sit down and relax with some wall-to-wall hoops on television.

In the wake of my season predictions piece from Monday, I decided to bring my powers of prognostication to this most festive holiday. I will take my shot at guessing how each game of the national, multi-network quintuple-header will pan out.

Rather you agree with my selections or not, let me know what you think in the comments! I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

Pelicans vs. Heat, 11:00 AM CT, ESPN

The festivities tip off on South Beach. These two teams met in the preseason on this same American Airlines Arena court. The New Orleans Pelicans handled the Miami Heat 114-92 in that matchup.

The Pelicans haven’t let their foot off the gas either since that game. They beat the Milwaukee Bucks 127-113 in their second preseason game and throttled the Toronto Raptors 113-99 in their season opener. Meanwhile, Miami lost their season opener 113-107 at the Orlando Magic. I think that Pels coach Stan Van Gundy has unlocked something in his team in the early going.

Meanwhile, I think there is something to the theory that the Heat, like the Lakers, are still getting adjusted to the turnaround of being in the Finals. If the Pelicans can control the tempo of the game and score efficiently, they should have the upper hand over Miami.

My prediction: New Orleans wins, 112-105.

Warriors vs. Bucks, 1:30 PM CT, ABC

On Tuesday we were gravely reminded that these are not the dynastic Golden State Warriors we used to know. Meanwhile, the Bucks were on the wrong end of a game-winner against the Boston Celtics. So I’m guessing Milwaukee is going to come out with an inspired effort in their home opener. It’s likely going to be a long afternoon for GSW. If you need a game to miss to eat dinner, open presents, nap, run an errand, etc., this is probably the game to do it.

My prediction: Milwaukee wins, 120-95.

Nets vs. Celtics, 4:00 PM CT, ABC

The Brooklyn Nets are back to wreak havoc after blowing out the Warriors on Opening Night. The Nets and Celtics just met on this court in preseason, with Brooklyn blowing out Boston 113-89 on Friday the 18th. The Celtics bounced back to start the season, earning the clutch 122-121 win over Milwaukee on Wednesday. I think their effort on Christmas will be much closer to this game than their preseason matchup against Brooklyn.

However, I still believe that Kyrie’s & KD’s hands will still be hot, and there is too much firepower in the rotation to keep up with. The Celtics will bring a bigger challenge than the Warriors, but I still see the Nets prevailing.

My prediction: Brooklyn wins, 116-106.

Mavericks vs. Lakers, 7:00 PM CT, ABC & ESPN

This game should be a lot of fun! It’s the perfect matchup for the primetime slot. Both teams will be entering this game looking to finally get in the win column.

The Dallas Mavericks fell short at the Phoenix Suns 106-102 on Wednesday. They lost despite forcing more turnovers (18-11) and drawing 10 fouls between their opponents three centers. Meanwhile, the Los Angeles Lakers, who were 70+ days removed from clinching the 2020 title, were dominated in the paint by a spryer Los Angeles Clippers team. Losing the battle in paint points (50-38), second chance points (15-9), and fastbreak points (16-12) ultimately led to the Lakers’ 116-109 defeat.

This could be a close game, but I see the Lakers having the advantage. I think home court will play into it, and they have more rotational depth than Dallas. If LA can defend the perimeter and hit on a couple of scoring runs, they’ll be able to secure the win.

My prediction: Los Angeles L. wins, 113-107.

Clippers vs. Nuggets, 9:30 PM CT, ESPN

Our nightcap takes place at altitude. The Clippers looked fantastic in their Opening Night win over the Lakers, especially Paul George. Meanwhile, the Denver Nuggets are still stinging from their buzzer-beating 124-122 loss to the Sacramento Kings.

This is poised to be another one that goes down to the wire. I’m sure that’s much to the chagrin of Nuggets fans. Going by both team’s personnel, it’s really a matter of who wins the rebounding battle and who shoots more efficiently from 3-point range. Despite the inherit home-court advantage of Ball Arena being a mile high above the sea, I think the Clippers are coming in hot enough that they’ll be able to overcome it.

My prediction: Los Angeles C. wins, 120-114.