NBA Christmas schedule 2014: LeBron James returns to South Beach as Cavaliers visit Heat

James’ first return to Miami since rejoining his hometown Cavaliers is one of five matchups on Christmas Day.

Christmas Day always delivers plenty of presents to NBA fans, and although there are a few lumps of coal in this batch of Christmas games, there are also excellent gifts.

The best matchups are in the Western Conference, but the most focus will be on South Beach, where LeBron James returns to Miami for the first time since rejoining the Cleveland Cavaliers.

James brought a ton of success to the Miami Heat in his four seasons with the team, leading them to four consecutive NBA Finals appearances and two NBA championships. But things didn’t start so smoothly with the Heat, and James is also enduring growing pains with his new Big Three in Cleveland.

The Cavaliers struggled on both ends of the floor during a 5-7 start, but like they did for James in Miami, his team began to click. James himself has gotten out of an early-season rut and is once again playing at an MVP level, and the team is building chemistry.

Things haven’t gone all that well in Miami in the wake of James’ departure, with a plethora of key injuries leading to a mediocre start. Still, the Heat crowd should be jazzed up for the return of the King.

Here’s the full Christmas schedule.

Wizards at Knicks, 12 p.m. ET

The Knicks are your early-morning lump of coal. New York is a woeful 5-25 on the season, and it hasn’t helped that the team has been battered by injuries. Carmelo Anthony is hurting and has been advised to shut it down, but he’s still playing and playing big minutes. Meanwhile, the Wizards are near the top of the Eastern Conference, thanks in large part to John Wall. The explosive point guard has been a monster in clutch situations and has played himself into MVP conversations.

TV: ESPN

Radio: ESPN Radio

Streaming: WatchESPN

More on these teams: Bullets Forever | Posting and Toasting

Thunder at Spurs, 2:30 p.m. ET

This is a rematch of last year’s Western Conference Finals, which the Spurs won in six games en route to the championship. Both teams entered training camp as two of the favorites to return to the West Finals, but injuries have momentarily derailed them. The Thunder currently sit on the outside looking in of the playoff race because of injuries to Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, while the Spurs are seventh in the West thanks to issues for Tony Parker, Kawhi Leonard and others. Durant is questionable to play due to an ankle injury and Leonard remains out with a troublesome hand injury.

TV: ABC

Radio: ESPN Radio

Streaming: WatchESPN

More on these teams: Welcome to Loud City | Pounding The Rock

Cavaliers at Heat, 5 p.m. ET

James’ return to Miami will be emotional no matter what, but the game won’t be nearly as exciting if Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh aren’t able to go. Wade has been superb when healthy this season, but his knees continue to be an issue and there’s no guarantee he plays. Bosh has missed the last six games with a calf injury and is not expected to suit up. If those two, or even one of them, aren’t able to go, that could be the recipe for a blowout.

TV: ABC

Radio: ESPN Radio

Streaming: WatchESPN

More on these teams: Fear The Sword | Hot Hot Hoops

Lakers at Bulls, 8 p.m. ET

The Bulls are getting back to full strength, which is a bad sign for the dreadful Lakers. Derrick Rose has looked more like himself lately when he has been on the court, and Jimmy Butler has turned himself into a star. With Butler playing at such a high level, it could be a long night for Kobe Bryant, who has struggled defensively all season. Bryant rested in Tuesday’s game against the Warriors, which the Lakers won going away in one of the most surprising results of the season.

This contest also features Carlos Boozer’s first game back in Chicago and Pau Gasol’s first game going against his former team, so there are some good storylines even if the game isn’t competitive.

TV: TNT

Radio: ESPN Radio

Streaming: Watch TNT

More on these teams: Silver Screen and Roll | Blog a Bull

Warriors at Clippers, 10:30 p.m. ET

In terms of pure entertainment value, this game is the best of the day. The pace will be fast and there should be no shortage of scoring with two of the top five offenses in the league squaring off. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson have established themselves as the NBA’s top backcourt, and the return of David Lee bolsters the bench of the league’s best team. The Clippers have rebounded from a so-so start thanks in large part to the typically superb play of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. J.J. Redick’s hot December has also played a major role in getting out of the early malaise.

TV: TNT

Radio: ESPN Radio

Streaming: Watch TNT

More on these teams: Golden State Of Mind | Clips Nation

December 25, 2014 by : Posted in Uncategorized No Comments

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