Every morning, we compile the links of the day and dump them here… highlighting the big storyline. Because there’s nothing quite as satisfying as a good morning dump.
The Boston Celtics will play the Philadelphia 76ers on Christmas to showcase a second-round rematch of last year’s playoffs. Thing is, they’ll probably play Philly before then, too, so it’ll be more of a rematch of a rematch.
That first matchup is a doozy. The over/under for the Knicks is 29.5 wins next season, and the Bucks haven’t played on Christmas in 41 years. Meanwhile, the Raptors, who won 59 games last season and added Kawhi Leonard this summer, still can’t catch any of the spotlight.
Thunder vs Rockets should be good because Carmelo Anthony will either have a statement game against a team he had a sloppy one-year stand with, or he’ll shoot 2-13 and I’ll be just as entertained either way. There are very few teams that you might say “lost” the offseason, but Houston might be one of them with two of their defensive specialist wings walking away. They were far too good last year to not give them a Christmas game, but the same could be said for Toronto.
The Celtics/76ers matchup, the only game where we don’t yet know the location (as of Wednesday morning), should make for a fun game, but isn’t it time to bring back the Celtics/Lakers matchup on Christmas? The Lakers are guaranteed to be good for the first time in a few years and the Celtics are stacked.
Finally, the Lakers and Warriors game is essentially a Finals rematch seeing as one roster has LeBron James and the other roster is the Golden State Warriors. This will certainly draw a lot of eyeballs, and lessen the need for travel on a holiday, but I can’t help but predict the Lakers losing this game by approximately 60 points. I hope I’m wrong.
There’s more on the Christmas day schedule in the Locked On Celtics and Locked on NBA podcasts:
On page 2, Brad Stevens talks lineups
Stevens said the Celtics have “eight, nine, maybe 10 guys that are starters.” Even if a player comes off the bench, he doesn’t necessarily view him to be a “non-starter.”
“Marcus Smart has come off the bench for two years, and I’ve never considered Marcus Smart to be a non-starter,” Stevens said. “We’re going to have different lineups out there, and everybody is going to get a different opportunity and lots of opportunities to make an impact.”
There’s been a lot of discussion over lineups pending the imminent return of Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving. I’ve been spraying this all over Twitter, but let me say it here as well: Don’t overthink it. The Celtics should, and probably will, start their five best players which are inarguably Irving, Hayward, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Al Horford. Don’t look at that as some sort of commitment that leaves other players under-appreciated. Marcus Smart will still exist as a sixth starter and the depth of the bench will, in fact, see the light of day.
NBCSports: Come up with whatever lineup you want, the Celtics are still going to be stacked
Yahoo: Brad Stevens and the Celtics have a new obstacle in the East: the burden of expectations
MassLive: Boston Celtics to play 76ers on Christmas