Merry Christmas to everyone! We’ve kind of reached the NBA Christmas games despite the recent COVID-19 outbreak in the league. Whether or not we should make a Christmas slate is a worthwhile discussion. However, here we are and it’s time to talk about what we might see unfold.

It’s unclear which players will break health and safety protocols in time for Saturday’s action and who will avoid it altogether. However, the image becomes increasingly clear less than 24 hours before the announcement. Here’s our guide to the five-game NBA Christmas slate, including odds, predictions and what to watch out for.

The Knicks and Hawks start the Christmas list with some bad blood from the last playoffs. Trae Young dazzled throughout the playoff series with 29.2 points and 9.8 assists, including an iconic moment en route to a 4-1 victory over a struggling New York Knicks team led by Julius Randle. . The teams meet for the first time at MSG since the playoffs, but will the outcome be any different?

The Hawks are one of the two teams hardest hit by the COVID-19 outbreaks playing this Christmas, along with the Brooklyn Nets. As a result, they are 6.5 point road dogs against a team they dominated in the playoffs. The Knicks haven’t been good this season, so I guess there’s a chance Atlanta will still find a way to cover, but there’s no way I’m picking the Hawks to win. I love New York to find a way to do it at home.

Both teams were very disappointing, but I was always ready to go easy with the Hawks. Why? Trae Young at The Garden is a TV staple and I thought it would be enough to beat this version of the Knicks. However, Young will not come out of health and safety protocols in time for this game. It changes everything.

Now I am forced to take New York even though I have very little or no confidence in doing so. But I mean, Julius Randle should be enough to carry the Knicks past what’s left of a COVID-riddled Hawks team, right?

If in doubt, the NBA will find a way to get the Bucks-Celtics game in a prime-time location. They did it a year ago for the season opener, where Jayson Tatum had three wing wins by the end of the time limit. The two teams have been in a different stratosphere since then; the Celtics have left Brad Stevens and are an average Eastern Conference team while the Bucks are just coming out of an NBA championship. So what can we expect in this Christmas game?

Does Giannis Antetokounmpo play? That’s all I really need to know. Recent reports say he has cleared the NBA’s health and safety protocols, but his status remains unresolved. If he plays, I like the Bucks to win. Otherwise, I would be reluctant to ride with the Celtics to win.

The Bucks have enough to win without their MVP, as they’ve shown in their last two clashes. But those games were against understaffed and bad Western Conference teams. This game is against an enemy in the east with its top two active players, so I’m rolling Celtics if the Greek Freak is out.

Giannis just got out of health and safety protocols in time for Christmas, and I’d like to imagine one of the biggest stars in the NBA getting dressed. He, along with Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton, feels sufficient to overtake a mediocre Celtics side – although Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are more than capable of doing it on their own. Milwaukee also gets the home game? Sign me up.

If Suns-Warriors Round 3 looks like the first two games of this season, we’re going to have a blast. The Suns edged out the Warriors in Phoenix when Mikal Bridges and Co. staged a defensive masterclass on how to protect Steph Curry, but Golden State passed Phoenix days later in a dominant performance. Both teams sit atop the NBA and are ready for what should be the game of the day.

These teams divided the first two clashes with Devin Booker sidelined for most of the action. This time around, Booker is back and the Warriors are now dealing with a few of their players on the sidelines.

Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole play big roles for Golden State, so I love that the healthier Suns do in what probably ends up being an exciting game because Stephen Curry is speaking up.

As we’ve seen in the first two games, these teams are pretty much even. Each has elite superstar talents in Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Chris Paul and Devin Booker, with a ton of outstanding role players making this match seemingly a match-to-match draw.

Having said that, I take Phoenix. I’m going to take it a step further and go with Phoenix to cover the spread as well. With Book’s return, the noisy desert crowd, and the absences of Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins, it’s too much for the Warriors to overcome.

On paper, NBA schedule officials appeared to be right when the Christmas schedule leaked ahead of the season. LeBron, AD, Harden, KD, Kyrie? Russ too? What could go wrong? Well, those calendar makers couldn’t have seen that coming. Davis is injured, KD is in health and safety protocols, and Kyrie has yet to play this season. There are a number of ways this game could play out, but it should still be interesting to watch.

This one is simple for me. The Lakers stink but the Nets don’t play. I mean, there will be a team called the Nets with a few of their regulars speaking up. But for the most part, the entire lineup of the Nets is sidelined by COVID-19 protocols.

I just think something has to give with the Lakers. LeBron James is playing hard and this seems like the perfect place to finally pay off in the form of a win.

I really feel like I should go Lakers here, given everything Prince has just said. Kevin Durant is out. Kyrie? Outside. Bruce Brown? Outside. But honestly, I can’t trust the Lakers at all. They’ve been bad this season and looked awful against some pretty mediocre teams.

Maybe I end up looking silly for that choice, but I can’t side with Prince on every prediction. So, James Harden’s homecoming escape game? LET’S GO NETS.

“Save the best for last” is exactly what the NBA is NOT doing here. The Jazz are playing Christmas for the second time this century, and they must face off against an exhausted team of Mavs. Yes, Utah is generally a good team in the regular season with some fun players, but it feels weird that they are here.

In what is the easier pick of the day, the Jazz will win. Luka Doncic is yet another NBA star in NBA health and safety protocols and the Mavericks lack the firepower to hang on to Utah without him. The Jazz are the best team in the NBA that no one talks about and they’ll enjoy the Christmas Day platform for showing the world what they’ve been up to.

Yeah, no need to make this one harder than it should be. Utah is at home against a Dallas Mavericks team without Luka Doncic. The only chance the Mavs have to win is for Kristaps Porzingis to select Rudy Gobert to love 15 three-pointers, and that probably wouldn’t be enough yet. Jazz by many, note it.

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