ESPN announced its NBA Christmas Day schedule Wednesday, lined with marquee teams and signature stars. Here’s what you should make your priority among the mistletoe and hot chocolate this winter.
5. Milwaukee Bucks at New York Knicks
The NBA, by scheduling this match for its vaunted Christmas-Day slate, is establishing a Mendoza Line of Knicks competency which allows the team to still host a game on the league’s biggest day.
Odds are Kristaps Porzingis will still be recovering from the torn ACL he suffered in February by the time the Bucks enter Madison Square Garden on Christmas. New York is being incredibly patient with Porzingis’ recovery, a smart decision considering his size and youth. That means, though, that the marquee Greek Freek vs. Porzingod brouhaha is unlikely.
And Christmas in the NBA is about individual brilliance. Aside from the one game on the schedule which holds actual title implications and tells us more about the top teams (this year it’s Sixers-Celtics), the rest of the slate is predicated upon stars doing battle.
So Giannis Antetokounmpo matching up with Porzingis would have been great. But it won’t happen.
On the other hand, the Knicks carry some intrigue even without Porzingis. They will feature their youngsters heavily, including Frank Ntilikina, Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson, who haven’t yet reaped the benefits of their team being in the spotlight.
If New York can put up a real fight against their visitors, who hired a new coach and added a ton of shooting this summer, it would be an impressive feat.