A very Australian NBA Christmas: 6 games to watch
|Peter Munt||Dec 23, 2018|
The NBA has delivered an Australian dream by showcasing 6 big games featuring our Aussie players on the hardwood.
Let's take a look at everything you need to know.
1. Milwaukee Bucks at New York Knicks
Game 1 - 4:00am AEDT (Boxing Day)
Thon Maker leads the Aussie charge in Game One of a big Boxing Day. Over the past 16 games Maker has started to find his feet in the Bucks deep rotation. Being a versatile 7 footer who can knock down the 3 ball always helps, but an injury to back up centre John Henson has seen an uptick in minutes for Maker.
During this stretch Maker has seen 12.3 minutes of court time, compared with his inactive status in eight of the Bucks’ first 13 games. With the uptick in court time, Maker has rewarded the Bucks' with some fine shooting form. From beyond the arc Maker is converting on an impressive 35% of his attempts.
So far this season the teams have met twice. The first time they met, Giannis Antetokounmpo led the bucks to a 124-113 victory. The second time around an inspired Emmanuel Mudiay and the Knicks snuck over the line in an OT 136-134 win.
Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics
Game 2 - 9:30am AEDT (Boxing Day)
When this game was first announced, it looked like Ben Simmons was to be pitted against Aaron Baynes, with the game showcasing the two favourites in the Eastern Conference. This is the first time in 30 years the 76ers are appearing in back to back Christmas day games, whilst this is the second straight season the Celtics are hosting on Christmas Day.
This is the second meeting for the two teams this season. The Celtics hosted the 76ers on opening night, in a rematch of last year's Conference semifinals matchup, with the Celtics running out comfortable winners 105-87. Aussie big man Aaron Baynes won't be present after recently undergoing surgery.
3. Portland Trail Blazers at Utah Jazz
Game 3 - 2:30pm AEDT (Boxing Day)
In the final game of the day, we see two playoff hopeful teams matched up against each other. The two teams only just came together in Utah, where the Jazz took the win 120-90.
This is the first time the Jazz are appearing in a holiday game since 1997. Joe Ingles and Dante Exum will hopefully put together a game like they did yesterday. Ingles played 28 minutes whilst scoring 15 points, grabbing 5 rebounds and handing out 7 assists.
But it was the performance of Exum which will get people excited. He again showed flashes of potential playing a slashing 21 minutes off the bench. He was able to chime in with an ever handy 8 points, dished out 8 assists and displayed some great patience in waiting to find the open man.
The Blazers hold a 14-3 win/loss record for holiday games while this is only the 7th time Utah have played off on this day.
4. Cleveland Cavaliers at Memphis Grizzlies
Game 4 - 12pm AEDT (27th)
The fan MVP, Matthew Dellavedova travels to Memphis to take on the Grizzlies. His homecoming has been nothing short of special, with fans salivating at the hardnosed point guard has returned to Cleveland.
Since returning to Cleveland Dellavedova has seen an uptick in minutes, but has been under a restriction as he recovers from a sore knee. Incredibly enough in his 119 minutes on the floor Cleveland are a +44. His numbers have been nothing short of impressive. Off the bench he is averaging 11.2 points, shooting a blistering 50% from the three and 57% from inside the arc.
The Cavs and the Grizzlies haven't met this season. The Grizzlies will be wanting to get their season back on track after an impressive start to the year. They are currently on a 5 game losing streak and come up against the Lakers tomorrow. The Cavs are obviously experiencing a tougher season since the departure of Lebron James. They enter the game entrenched on the bottom of the Eastern Conference with an 8-25 record.
5. New Orleans Pelicans at Dallas Mavericks
Game 5 - 12:30pm AEDT (27th)
Ryan Broekhoff continues to remain outside of Rick Carlisle's current playing rotation. But after a recent sit down with The Pick and Roll, Brokeoff explained his mindset.
“Stay ready, it’s a long season and who knows that can happen."
This week Broekhoff has been battling an illness which had him miss out against the Clippers. He didn't train with the team the day after and has been listed as questionable for today's game against the Warriors.
The Pelicans were comfortable winners in the first game of their four game series this season. Funnily enough for Broekhoff this was a game where he recorded season high's in minutes played, points scored and rebounds.
Both teams come into the game winning only 1 game out of their last 5.
6. Denver Nuggets at San Antonio Spurs
Game 6 - 12:30pm AEDT (27th)
The Spurs host the Nuggets in what should be a one of the games of the day. The Nuggets are currently sitting top of the Western Conference with a 21-9 record, whilst the Spurs are firmly in the playoff race sitting with an 18-15 record.
The Patty Mills-led Spurs have been playing some very good basketball. Mills continues to showcase his skillset from the bench. After a slower start to the season, his shooting stroke has continued to improve. Now shooting the ball over 40% from the three, Mills will be looking to continue this trend whilst providing valuable leadership for the team.
Both teams have currently won 4 of their last 5 games. The Spurs have been in rich form, after a slow start to the season. This is the first time the two teams come together for the season, but they will get the opportunity to do it again when they play again in Denver on the 29th.