Blogtable: Biggest NBA present we'll receive on Christmas Day?
Each week, we ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day.
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Your nameplate says “Santa Claus, Jolly Giver of Gifts.” So tell me Mr. Claus, what NBA gift will we be receiving this Christmas Day?
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Steve Aschburner: Russell Westbrook a-leaping, that’s for sure. OKC gets the prime time game, so even though the Golden State-Cleveland matinee is the day’s marquee matchup, Westbrook has a chance to barrel down everybody’s chimney with some triple-double wonderfulness. It’s all set up, too, given the Thunder’s opponent; Minnesota’s key players are so young, at tipoff they’ll still be playing in the boxes their Christmas gifts came in. The Warriors-Cavaliers game, however intriguing the packaging and the performances, still will have a “Do not open until June” sticker on it. And the others? Too early, too late or — humbug! — upstaged by dinner.
Fran Blinebury: Ten Horfords-a-hooping, nine ‘Melos-a-milking the clock, eight Pauls-a-dishing, seven Sweet Lous-a-shooting, six Towns-a-growing, fiiiiiiive triple-doubles from Russ, four Wades-a-tutoring, three Kawhi steals, two LeBron dunks and a technical foul by Draymond Green!
Scott Howard- Cooper: No unique answer necessary. The defending champions and best team in the East, Cleveland, is playing the best team in the West, Golden State, in a Finals rematch. We will be receiving fun, quality basketball.
Shaun Powell: I believe you know what we’re getting. It’s no secret, and in fact this gift is so transparent it’s covered in plastic wrap: Warriors vs. Cavs. Warriors on a roll and Cavs feeling frisky. Both teams healthy. Kevin Durant is in the mix. Kevin Love is playing at All-Star level. This is one gift that nobody will return.
John Schuhmann: I’m giving you a Warriors squad motivated by facing the team they lost a 3-1 lead to in The Finals and a Cavs team (hopefully) motivated by playing the best opponent they’ve faced this season. Cleveland is already 3-0 against Toronto and looking pretty comfortable atop the East, but has played just one game against the top five teams in the West (they’re playing 34 of their first 35 games in Eastern Conference arenas). They should have an eye on The Finals more than any other team, and this game is their first potential Finals preview of the season.
Sekou Smith: Merry Christmas you filthy, basketball-loving animals! I’m giving you the best gift of all, Game 8 of The Finals (with Kevin Durant taking part in it as an extra wrinkle). The Warriors knew the moment they lost Game 7 in June that they’d be spending Christmas in balmy Cleveland, on one side of a championship-level holiday treat that should keep us all warm wherever we will be Sunday. It’s not the only game of the day, of course, but it is the game we’ve all been waiting for. Folks have been clamoring for a throwback rivalry like we saw in the 1980s with the Showtime Lakers and Boston Celtics and this is it — or the closest thing to it we’ve had in forever. So gather the family around the TV and enjoy a preview of what’s to come between these two teams in June.
Ian Thomsen: We are going to see the game’s best player (LeBron James) taking on the NBA’s Nos. 2 & 3 stars (Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant) who have joined together to beat him. We’ll see Kyrie Irving wanting to prove that he’s more valuable than anyone in a Warriors uniform. We’ll pay close attention to Draymond Green, whose impulsiveness changed the last NBA Finals, we’ll be thinking about the “3-1 lead” skeleton that was featured at James’ Halloween party, and we’ll be hoping for a third-straight NBA Finals of Cleveland vs. Golden State. The gift is a real, traditional basketball rivalry that has a chance to rank with the best we’ve ever seen.
Lang Whitaker: We can’t count on much these days, but I’m expecting a barn-burner of a game between the Cavaliers and the Warriors. These teams have tried to pace themselves thus far this season, but they’re clearly the two best teams in the NBA, and I’m not sure if you know what happened in The Finals but the Warriors … anyway, the Cavs won the title. Now, with Kevin Durant added to the fold, the Warriors are kinda quietly rolling right now — they’re 20-2 in their last 22, with one of those losses coming in double-OT. For once, I’m excited to see these teams put the pedal all the way down and see what they’re fully capable of doing.
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