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There’s one gift basketball fans all over the world are eagerly waiting to unwrap this holiday season: the NBA’s stellar Christmas Day lineup. Now that we’re a quarter of the way through the season, we have even more compelling storylines to follow in each of the five games. Here’s what to watch for when you tune in for a thrilling basketball marathon this holiday.

Trae Young vs. Knicks Fans

So strong is the enmity between Atlanta Hawks star guard Trae Young and the New York Knicks fans that it seems like this should be staged as a Celebrity Deathmatch episode. In the 2020-21 playoffs earlier this year, a lively back-and-forth between the two sides included the Knicks fans jeering Trae with colorful language and not-so-playfully insulting his hairdo. Trae, for his part, seemed happy playing the role of villain and showed up the fans with some bold gestures, culminating in his bow at the end of the Hawks’ lopsided Game 5 victory. Get your popcorn ready for this rematch!

Can the Celtics Slow Down Giannis?

The second game of the day pits the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks against the talented – but still underperforming – Boston Celtics. The Celtics have young star power in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, but so far in their early careers, the combination hasn’t led this team into title contention. While they’re gaining some traction this year with a much-improved defense, this matchup against two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo provides a great litmus test: Can the Celtics compete with the best in the East?

Do the Suns Have Steph Curry’s Number?

Right in the middle of the schedule we might have the best game of the day. The matchup of the Phoenix Suns and the Golden State Warriors will give us a potential Western Conference Finals preview that’s essential watching for big-time basketball fans. These two teams have been the best in the league over the first quarter of the season. In their first matchup on Nov. 30, the Suns’ defense stifled Stephen Curry – to the tune of 12 points on 4-of-21 shooting – leading to a convincing Suns victory. Can the Suns shut down the potential MVP again and assert their dominance in the West?

Are the Lakers Good?

Since the Christmas Day slate was announced in August, we’ve all been looking forward to the prime-time matchup of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and the Los Angeles Lakers versus Kevin Durant, James Harden, and the Brooklyn Nets. What we didn’t expect? That the Lakers would be hanging by a thread. It’s still early in the season, but they have struggled at times offensively and struggled mightily on defense. There’s no better test than KD and the Nets. If LeBron can’t get his team ready to play and make this high-profile game a tight one, it may not happen for the Lakers this year – or any time in the near future.

Does Any Team Besides the Suns & Warriors Have a Shot in the West?

The final game of the night pairs up two second-tier teams from the West in the Dallas Mavericks and the Utah Jazz. On a big stage, this game could go a long way in telling us whether either – or both – of these teams has a real shot to come out of the Western Conference. The Mavs have one of the true superstars in the game in Luka Doncic, but the play of his supporting cast, and especially of his second star Kristaps Porzingis, has wavered. The Jazz, on the other hand, have been a great regular-season team for awhile, led by sensational scoring guard Donovan Mitchell and hyper-efficient big man Rudy Gobert. Is that combination still too much class for the Mavs? Or will Luka show that he and the Mavs are ready to compete for a title?

Happy watching, basketball fans! Looking for more articles on holiday fun and entertainment? Make sure to check out our Oceanside Lantana blog.