It’s Christmastime, friends, and this week we officially celebrate the biggest NBA holiday, and transition into the stretch-run of the season – where we find out if the young teams have enough focus and stamina, if there’s any hope for teams that are overcoming injuries, and if a rookie head-coach can really finish with the best record in the league. Either way, this NBA weekly preview is full of the christmas spirit.

Below is an exciting match up for each day this coming week that you should check out:

Monday, December 22nd – Raptors at Bulls, 8:00pm ET on NBA League Pass

A matchup of the top team in the East (the Raptors) and the expected Conference Finals participant (the Bulls). The Raptors have played tough without DeRozen, but now start a grueling road trip that starts with the Bulls and continues to the best teams out west. This is put-up or shut-up time for the Raptors, who as of yet have had a fairly easy schedule.

Other great games tonight include Blazers at Rockets (8:00pm ET on NBALP and Clippers at Spurs (8:30pm ET on NBALP)

Tuesday, December 23rd – Clippers at Hawks, 7:30pm ET on NBA League Pass

The Hawks come off of a week in which they defeated the Bulls, Cavs, and Rockets. They finally deserve some praise, and to celebrate, they get the Clippers – a team that has had it’s ups and downs but figures to be at or near the top in the west come the end of the season.

Other great games tonight include Bulls at Wizards (7:00pm ET on NBALP) and Blazers at Thunder (8:00pm ET on NBALP

Wednesday, December 24th – no games

Kiss your family tonight – since tomorrow is a national NBA holiday.

Thursday, December 25th – Christmas Day:

  1. Wizards at Knicks, 12:00pm on ESPN – ok, so maybe sleep in late or have a Christmas lunch with your family. At least we won’t have to watch the Nets get blown-out at home in this game this year. (Yes, I’m a Nets fan and I’m bitter)
  2. Thunder at Spurs, 2:30pm ET on ABC – Durant should be back, and this was the match-up everyone was looking forward to at the beginning of the season. With the emergence of Golden State and Memphis, this loses a little bit of luster, but still promises to be a battle that will show us where each team is as we head into the “second half” of the season.
  3. Cavs at Heat, 5:00pm ET on ABC – If Bosh remains sidelined this will lose some of its luster beyond the player introductions. The Heat are a shadow of their former selves – everyone knows it now – but Wade still has that fight in him. On a day like Christmas, with an audience on ABC, he’s not above dropping 45 or 50 to make a point, and the Wade vs. Irving matchup should be interesting to watch.
  4. Lakers at Bulls, 8:00pm on TNT – Bryant, another player who loves the limelight will look to steal it from Rose, whose condition I am constantly asked about. As I say every week, “if Chicago can stay healthy, they will likely come out of the East this year”.
  5. Warriors at Clippers, 10:30pm ET on TNT – A rematch of the playoff battle from last year, this match-up loses a little bit in the fact that the teams have played 3 times already this year (twice in the preseason). Golden State is not afraid of the Clippers – and will be looking to blow them out in LA. The status of Bogut (the biggest reason they lost the series last year) will make this interesting – can they win without him this year?

Friday, December 26th – Rockets at Grizzlies, 8:00pm on NBATV

The Grizzlies did pretty well in their “hell week” last week, and now face the Rockets in a battle of “Teams who probably should be playing on Christmas Day but we get the Knicks and Lakers instead”. If Howard is healthy (and playing as himself) expect some fireworks inside against Randolph and Gasol.

Another great game tonight is Suprs at Pelicans (8:00pm ET on NBALP)

Saturday, December 27th – Raptors at Clippers, 3:30pm ET on NBA League Pass

The Raptors road trip comes to LA, where they face the Clippers. By this time, the Clippers could be gloating from their win against Golden State or mad-as-hell and ready to stomp anybody in their path. Lowry versus Chris Paul will provide a nice point-guard fireworks display as well.

Other great games tonight include Grizzlies at Heat (7:30pm ET on NBATV) and Pelicans at Bulls (8:00pm ET on NBALP)

Sunday, December 28th – Thunder at Mavs, 7:30pm ET on NBA League Pass

The Thunder have a point to prove, and for Westbrook, that point includes personally blowing up every point-guard in the league. With the recent Rondo trade, the west gains another elite point-guard, and Westbrook gets to aim his targets tonight. The Mavs are set to be a top team in the west, but their ceiling will be determined by how well Rondo can integrate within this already pass-heavy team and their offense.

Another great game tonight is Rockets at Spurs (7:00pm ET on NBALP)