The Big Christmas Recap: Notes & Observations from the 5 game TV marathon

Swaggy P

We return from an extended hia­tus to recap the ‘highly antic­i­pated’ NBA Christ­mas Day Games. The level of antic­i­pa­tion wasn’t all that high though, as a lot has changed since sched­ul­ing time thanks to key injuries and locker-room self destruc­tion. Real­is­ti­cally, this ended up being an aver­age night of games at best (and the big logo jer­seys were god awful!), but we braved all of them to bring you our thoughts & obser­va­tions from each game:

 

Game 1: The Chicago Bulls (w) 95 @ The Brook­lyn Nets 78

This was sup­posed to be a play­off pre­view between pro­jected East­ern Con­fer­ence con­tenders. Then Der­rick Rose went down again, Brook­lyn never showed up to play this sea­son and we got a matchup between the scrappy and tal­ent starved vs the old & lazy. It’s spe­cially sad for Bulls fans as just a few years ago, we actu­ally looked for­ward to them on Christmas.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaLgq-ofdso

The Bulls can still be respectable on nights because of their strong defen­sive iden­tity and ‘next man up’ approach to the game. The Nets, how­ever, should con­sider mov­ing back to New Jer­sey and down to the D-League .

Chicago’s offense is so putrid, that the DJ Augustin sign­ing seems like a good move.

In an era where big men (spe­cially aging & injury prone ones) were cut­ting weight to reduce the strain on their bod­ies (see Dun­can, Tim), Brook Lopez decided to bulk up this sum­mer. Good Call.

It’s to believe that a few sea­sons ago, we could actu­ally com­pare Chris Paul and Deron Williams, let alone men­tion them in the same sen­tence. One off year is ok, but Williams has really fallen off, and may never any­where close to a super­star guard again.

With noth­ing of much sig­nif­i­cance going on, Taj Gib­son decided to put on a lit­tle show of his improv­ing offen­sive game for any­one who actu­ally both­ered to tune in.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGAvH0F_WMQ

 

Game 2: The Okla­homa City Thun­der (w) 123 @ The New York Knicks 94

This wasn’t much of a matchup to start with as the Knicks have been abysmal and the Thun­der have looked at times like THE best team in the league. Add to that the fact that a twisted ankle denied us the cus­tom­ary Melo vs Durant matchup and this was another tire­some game to get through.

Watch­ing these two teams on the same court is truly bizarre. They seem to be play­ing two com­pletely dif­fer­ent games at com­pletely dif­fer­ent speeds – god these Knicks look awful! Both New York teams look like they show up just to clock in to work, not to try to win or even break a sweat, but just to clock in and claim they didn’t for­feit. For­feit would’ve been the kinder option though. The league should pun­ish the city and make the two teams just play each other for each of their remain­ing games with even­tual los­ing team’s front office get­ting fired and owner get­ting the team con­fis­cated from him… These games would air in between late night infomer­cials as 2 minute high­lights because that’s all they deserve.

While the Thun­der took care of busi­ness effort­lessly and had the game decided from the open­ing tip, Amar’e Stoudemire thought he’d try some­thing new: play­ing some defense. Reg­gie Jack­son quickly showed him what a bad idea it was.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WeNH1bLbyIg

 

Game 3: The Miami Heat (w) 101 @ The Los Ange­les Lak­ers 95

No Lebron – Kobe matchup here. (Real­is­ti­cally their match ups have never really been all that mem­o­rable: they play dif­fer­ent posi­tions, guard each other only occa­sion­ally – just enough for video clips for promo trail­ers, and never really had match­ing or over­lap­ping primes.)

What we did get was Lebron vs Swaggy P. And in its own weird way, it was pretty f*ckin’ awesome.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AEhn0UVQ-KU

The Lak­ers’ pace and scrap­pi­ness has them as the reign­ing must-watch bad team. If only they’d trade Gasol, shut down Kobe for the sea­son, and just com­mit to this for the rest of the year. Play­ing at 110 mph. The Res­ur­rec­tion of Xavier. Robert Sacre doing work down low. Nick Young com­pet­ing for the title of ‘the best bad shot maker in the league’with his in-city rival Jamal Craw­ford. The Lake Show 2013. So much bet­ter than Earl­san­ity the 2012 ver­sion star­ring Dwight, Kobe, Nash, Pau, Metta. In con­clu­sion, superteams suck!

 

Game 4: The Hous­ton Rock­ets (w) 111 @ The San Anto­nio Spurs 98

The first real game of the night. The Spurs can play big at times, but not all that effec­tively against ‘true’ size. The Grizz exposed this 2011, and this sea­son, Dwight & the Rock­ets have given them trou­ble. They strug­gled to score inside all night and most of their points seemed to be com­ing on tough shots. Very un-Spurs like – to Houston’s Credit.

When the Rock­ets are good, they’re really good. And once they start play­ing 48 min­utes of D instead of just in 4th quar­ters, they could be unstoppable.

Dwight is start­ing to look spry again. Or maybe he just hated play­ing with Kobe, and it’s finally wear­ing off.

Manu had a vin­tage Manu game, but we get to see fewer ones each year. As Barkley says, you can’t beat time.

Every team likes hav­ing some out­side shoot­ing. The Rock­ets have it in excess.

The Rock­ets’ extra small lineup with Ter­rence jones at cen­ter was intrigu­ing. There’s some­thing very inter­est­ing about the lineup pos­si­bil­i­ties this ros­ter presents.

Jeremy Lin, a year removed from the unfair expec­ta­tions of Lin­san­ity, is play­ing some very solid PG min­utes for Hous­ton. Con­sis­tent shoot­ing and play­mak­ing and some pretty good defense on Tony Parker tonight.

James Harden takes over in the 4th. Cold Blooded!

He needs to thank Sam Presti. I still like the Harden trade. He wouldn’t have reached his semi-superstar sta­tus had he stayed there. And the OKC offense and bench would not have evolved the way it has either. But with respect to Harden, I do think this is his ceil­ing. Part of his suc­cess is the fact that he’s play­ing in the per­fect sys­tem. Even­tu­ally we’re see­ing that repeat­edly this sea­son with teams like Port­land & Indi­ana vs the New York Teams: The pieces have to fit!

It would be inter­est­ing to see what addi­tional pieces Hous­ton can add in exchange for Asik. I do know what I’d love to see that may never ever ever hap­pen: Kevin Love in a Hous­ton jer­sey! Is there a bet­ter player/system fit in the league right now. Come on Mr. Morey. MAKE IT HAPPEN!

 

Game 5: The LA Clip­pers 103 @ The Golden State War­riors 105 (w)

The only home win of the night and def­i­nitely a game that matched up to the billing. The Chris Paul – Steph Curry matchup was one sided for the most part but this is def­i­nitely a rivalry in the mak­ing. Ejec­tions. Runs. Last Minute Shots. Dif­fer­ent play­ers step­ping up. This had it all. Big win for the Dubs though it could really have gone either way.

David Lee is ridicu­lously solid (except on D): he’s the epit­ome of a low main­tainance all-star. Goes about his busi­ness every game with­out forc­ing any­thing and doing most his work as the clean up man and still ends up with 20 & 10.

Andrew Bogut explic­itly dis­played the ‘intan­gi­bles’ & ‘tough­ness’ he brings to the team. He gives them a mean streak that will trans­late well come play­off time.

Steph Curry really doesn’t like Christ­mas games. By the time he finally got going (2 & 3/4 christ­mas games in), I’m sure he thought the cal­en­dar date had flipped to the 26th. Big 4th Q though and a mini but excit­ing Paul vs Curry snippet.

Blake Grif­fin has started play­ing in the post and even doing a bit of dam­age, but he still doesn’t really look all that com­fort­able or in con­trol down there.

Jamal Craw­ford just makes shots. Tough, tough shots.Thats what he does. And they all look effort­less. There’s lit­tle else to his game, but it’s enough to keep us watching.

Mark Jackson’s been all praises for Klay Thompson’s defen­sive game all sea­son. Today he gave us some prime evidence.

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ql6y4zlsg7s

 

After that block it looked like CP was going to mur­der the base­line offi­cial. The ref was too scared to even T him up. Chris Paul is an angry lit­tle man & it’s awe­some. Pound for Pound, he has to be the scari­est player in the league.

Dev Kabir Malik has a clinically alarming dependence on basketball and spends most of his time watching, analyzing, writing and even playing a little pickup (and some 2K too). In the little time he has left, he dabbles with design, art & music.