January 17, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers power forward Pau Gasol (16) and Miami Heat small forward LeBron James (6) battle for position under the basket in the second half of the game at the Staples Center. Heat won 99-90. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

NBA on Christmas: Previewing The Slate of Holiday Games

Christmas Eve gave the NBA the night off as everyone across the country runs in and out of stores for last minute gifts and food preparation for the big day ahead. With five games lined up on Christmas Day, three of my favorite things will be combined: basketball, presents and a break from school and work.

Noon Eastern on ESPN: Chicago Bulls (10-16) at Brooklyn Nets (9-18)
Welp. This game (along with every other Bulls and Nets game) looked much better when the schedule first came out and we expected a fully healed Derrick Rose and the Bulls taking on the championship-contending Nets. This game is a tough reminder of that, be it on purpose or by accident, we don’t always get what we want for Christmas. The season isn’t looking up for either team and everyone involved will probably be looking forward to the end so they can go home and celebrate Christmas. By this time, everyone will most likely have opened their presents already too, so there’s something to pass the time until the next game: Bulls 90 – Nets 80.

Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks haven’t exactly been given any gifts this year, and shouldn’t expect them to come in on Christmas. Mandatory Credit: Rob Foldy-USA TODAY Sports

2:30 p.m. Eastern on ABC: Oklahoma City Thunder (22-5) at New York Knicks (9-18)
Christmas Day gets its first competitor with a winning record in the Thunder. Second in the Western Conference, don’t expect the Thunder to have any Christmas spirit and let up on the Knicks at all. The team is probably upset they have to travel to New York to take on a Knicks team that has been an absolute flop this season, so look for them to drop lumps of coal all over Madison Square Garden. Will the Knicks fight back and do its best to end the day with something or will they simply say they’re in the giving mood (giving up a lot of points)? Thunder 106 – Knicks 85.

5 p.m. Eastern on ABC: Miami Heat (21-6) at Los Angeles Lakers (13-15)
They may not be seen through the fans as the nice guys, but the Miami Heat have done good this year. Coming off another championship, the team has kept consistent and is only behind the Indiana Pacers for the top spot in the conference. The Lakers, on the other hand, were struck with bad luck and misfortune time after time. Caught being greedy by trading for Dwight Howard last offseason, the team’s result this year wasn’t too great. Losing Kobe at the end of last season to a ruptured achilles, losing him again just a few days ago to a left knee fracture, and losing Howard to free agency all add up to a clearly awful year for Los Angeles. Perhaps Santa Claus will surprise them with a gift this Christmas, but odds are in favor of the top kids in the league: Heat 96 – Lakers 84.

7 p.m. Eastern on ESPN: Houston Rockets (18-11) at San Antonio Spurs (22-6)
With new dominant center Dwight Howard, the Rockets look like the kids with high hopes after picking up their act in the latter half of the year. The team has gone to San Antonio and beaten the Spurs once this season already, while San Antonio is the kid that had their hopes crushed at their summer birthday party and are holding out an ounce of faith that Christmas will turn out better. It’s not the same as getting that 2014 Dodge Challenger they had their eyes on, but everyone starts somewhere. Also, that 2005 Honda Civic doesn’t feel so bad once you’re behind the wheel. The Rockets, meanwhile, know that better years are coming and won’t pout about its stack of gift cards and cash: Rockets 98 – Spurs 104.

Stephen Curry may need to deliver a win for the Warriors, but don’t call it a Christmas miracle. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

10:30 p.m. Eastern on ESPN: Los Angeles Clippers (20-9) at Golden State Warriors (16-13)
Both of these teams have been doing well recently, working their ways up from being bad to good kids. Chris Paul has delivered joy to Clippers fans since his arrival, and the Warriors have set hopes pretty high as a group to look out for in the coming seasons. One can’t forget Stephen Curry‘s cold-blooded jump shot that can leave the Clippers wondering what they did wrong this year, while Blake Griffin can add insult to injury with a highlight of dunks to top off a loss the team can deliver to Golden State. In this one, though, I see the Warriors coming out with the PS4, while the Clippers receive the $100 GameStop card – a decent gift, but they’ll definitely be expecting more next year. This game is bound to be the most entertaining of the lineup, so thank Claus for the great way to end the holiday: Clippers 97 – Warriors 100.

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