Happy Holidays! In honor of the NBA’s Christmas Day matchups, I will be breaking down all five games, recapping the final score and my pick for the players of the game. Was I a day late? Probably. But, if you like what you see, follow us at @UniqueSportplus. With that being said, let’s begin.
Boston Celtics @ Toronto Raptors (12 PM ET)
The first Christmas Day matchup brought the heat right away as two dark horse Eastern Conference teams in the Celtics and the Raptors faced off!
Final Score: Celtics win 118-102
Player of the Game: Jaylen Brown – 30 points (10-13 FG, 5-7 3PT), 6 rebounds, 4 assists
The Celtics were able to take the W on the road behind Brown’s 30-point effort. Kemba Walker (22 points, 8-16 FG) and Gordon Hayward (14 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists) played well too, boosting the Celtics to a 21-7 record, good for 2nd in the Eastern Conference. The Celtics were still able to secure the victory despite Celtics star Jayson Tatum struggling, scoring only 11 points while shooting 28% from the field.
The injury-riddled Raptors entered this game without their best player in Pascal Siakam, who was averaging a career-high 25.1 points per game for the season, Norman Powell, and Marc Gasol. The Raptors needed their other players to step up, and that’s exactly what Fred VanVleet did. VanVleet scored a team-high 27 points (11-21 FG), to go along with 6 assists and 4 steals. Chris Boucher played well off the bench, scoring 24 points as well on 7-8 shooting.
Milwaukee Bucks @ Philadelphia 76ers (2:30 PM ET)
The second Christmas Day matchup was the battle of two more Eastern Conference powerhouses, the Bucks and the Sixers!
Final Score: 76ers win 121-109
Player of the Game: Joel Embiid – 31 points (11-21 FG, 3-6 3PT), 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 blocks
Embiid and the Sixers played their best game of the season, and it couldn’t have come at a better time than against arguably the best team in the Eastern Conference. The Sixers shot 48% from the three point line, hitting 21 of their 44 attempts. Ben Simmons had a near triple-double with 15 points, 7 rebounds and 14 assists, following up his career night a few days ago. Tobias Harris (22 points, 5-7 3PT), Josh Richardson (18 points, 4-11 3PT), and Furkan Korkmaz (16 points, 4-5 3PT) rained down threes from beyond the arc, while Al Horford put up 11 points (3-7 3PT), 10 rebounds and 5 assists in the Sixers win.
One of the biggest stories of this matchup was the Sixers’ incredible defense on Giannis Antetokounmpo, who only made 8 of his 27 field goals, and missed all 7 of his three point attempts (a possible eye injury may be to blame). He still finished the night with 18 points, 14 rebounds and 7 assists, but the Sixers were phenomenal in limiting last year’s MVP. Khris Middleton was great for the Bucks, scoring 31 points (12-21 FG, 5-7 3PT) and grabbing 8 rebounds on great efficiency. George Hill was efficient off the bench, scoring 15 points (6-7 FG, 3-3 3PT), while Brook Lopez contributed 11 points as well.
Houston Rockets @ Golden State Warriors (5 PM ET)
The third Christmas Day matchup brought us to the brand-new Chase Center, as the Rockets took on the Warriors!
Final Score: Warriors win 116-104
Player of the Game: Damion Lee – 22 points (5-9 FG, 2-2 3PT), 15 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals
The Warriors entered this game as the obvious underdogs, but ended up upsetting the Rockets as they continue their 3-game win streak. Lee and D’Angelo Russell combined for 42 points as the Warriors, while Draymond Green also scored 20 points (8-14 FG) to go along with his 11 rebounds. Glenn Robinson III (18 points, 6-13 FG) and Willie Cauley-Stein (10 points, 5-7 FG) also hit double figures for the Warriors.
On the other hand, the Rockets were the heavy favorites to win this Christmas matchup before the game. Russell Westbrook led the team with a game-high 30 points on inefficient shooting, as he only made 11 of his 32 field goals, while also netting 12 rebounds and 5 assists. On the contrary, James Harden had himself an efficient night, scoring 24 points (9-18 FG, 6-10 3PT) along with his 6 rebounds and 11 assists. Surprisingly, Harden only attempted one free throw during this game, which could be a testament to the Warriors’ defensive scheme against The Beard. Danuel House Jr. put up 18 points (5-15 FG, 5-12 3PT) while Clint Capela had a double-double with 10 points (4-9 FG), and 11 rebounds.
Los Angeles Clippers @ Los Angeles Lakers (7:30 PM ET)
The fourth Christmas Day matchup was arguably the most-awaited and most-exciting of the day, as the battle of LA featured the Clippers went up against the Lakers!
Final Score: Clippers win 111-106
Player of the Game: Kawhi Leonard – 35 points (11-19 FG, 5-7 3PT), 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 block
With this victory over the other Lakers, the Clippers are now 2-0 against the team with the best record in the West. Kawhi Leonard scored 11 of his 35 points in the final 12 minutes of the game, closing it out with 4 clutch free throws. Paul George scored 17 points on poor efficiency, making only 5 of his 18 attempts. Off the bench, Lou Williams struggled with scoring the ball, finishing with only 6 points (1-6 FG), but Montrezl Harrell scored 18 points (8-12 FG) to help the Clippers escape with the close W.
The Lakers are now in the midst of a 4-game losing streak, but are still the best team in the West record-wise. LeBron James started off slow, but eventually picked it up as he finished with an inefficient, yet near triple-double stat line of 23 points (9-24 FG, 2-10 3PT), 9 rebounds and 10 assists in the loss. Anthony Davis had 24 points (8-17 FG, 1-6 3PT) as well, to go along with 6 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks. The Lakers had a big lead earlier in the game, thanks to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (13 points, 5-8 FG), and an early explosion from Kyle Kuzma (25 points, 8-17 FG) who scored 15 points in his first 5 minutes of an action.
New Orleans Pelicans @ Denver Nuggets (10 PM ET)
The final Christmas Day matchup features the Pelicans facing off against the Nuggets, who currently held a 7-game win streak.
Final Score: Pelicans win 112-100
Player of the Game: Brandon Ingram – 31 points (11-18 FG, 7-9 3PT), 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 1 block
In what was supposed to be rookie Zion Williamson’s Christmas debut, the struggling Pelicans found themselves matched up against the scorching hot Nuggets in what many thought was a waste of a Christmas Day matchup, and they were wrong. The Pelicans came out and put on a show, led by MIP candidate Brandon Ingram who set a career-high in threes made in a single game with 7. Teammate Jrue Holiday had himself 20 points (8-18 FG, 1-7 FG), 8 assists, and an insane 6 steals to help the Pelicans secure the W. Josh Hart (16 points, 5-10 FG, 9 rebounds), J.J. Redick (15 points, 5-10 FG), Lonzo Ball (10 points, 4-13 FG, 9 rebounds) and E’Twaun Moore (10 points, 4-8 FG) all scored in double digits to help the Pelicans out.
The Nuggets were expected to win the matchup against the Pelicans, but ultimately couldn’t keep up with the other team’s dominant performance. Nikola Jokic had 23 points (8-20 FG, 2-5 3PT), 10 rebounds and 4 assists to lead the team, while Jerami Grant scored 17 points (6-10 FG, 2-3 3PT) off the bench in the defeat. 3 other Nuggets players scored in double digits, but Jamal Murray struggled, only managing to score 8 points (2-10 FG).
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