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NBA Christmas Day Games Preview & Schedule

The NBA's hottest team will be playing at home in Los Angeles, and it's the Clippers, not the Lakers. There's also a finals rematch in Miami and Kobe vs. the Knicks.
A five-game slate makes up the NBA's Christmas schedule, which this year comes with the bonus of not being the first day back after a lockout forced the cancellation of the opening portion of last season.
Miami and Oklahoma City will be bringing the best records in their respective conferences into their first matchup since the Heat won the NBA title.
Also, New York will face its ex-coach, Mike D'Antoni, when it plays the Lakers.
Los Angeles will be the center of the league's Christmas bash, with two games at Staples Center on the same day. Finish the Knicks-Lakers, clear the court, and fans in L.A. get a second present - the NBA's best team of late. The Clippers, riding a franchise-record 13-game win streak, close the five-pack of games against Denver.
Kings: Sacramento reinstated DeMarcus Cousins after a one-game suspension for "unprofessional behavior and conduct detrimental to the team." Cousins and coach Keith Smart exchanged words in the locker room during halftime of a loss at the Clippers on Friday. Smart ordered Cousins to remain in the locker room for the second half. Cousins wasn't with the team during Sunday's win over Portland.
Warriors: The team recalled Kent Bazemore and Jeremy Tyler from the Santa Cruz Warriors. Both played in the D-League team's 93-88 win over Bakersfield on Sunday.

Boston Celtics vs Brooklyn Nets, 12 noon ET

The Boston Celtics have the history. The Brooklyn Nets have a new home and some Jay-Z cache. But two months into the season, both are middle-of-the-road teams whose fans expect more. Will one of these teams step up and make a Christmas Day statement that can carry over into the New Year?

NY Knicks vs LA Lakers, 3 p.m. ET

Christmas came a little early for the Lakers, who unwrapped star point guard and key offseason acquisition Steve Nash on Saturday night at Golden State. And while the Lakers won in OT, Nash didn’t instantly solve L.A.’s issues with offensive balance (see Kobe’s 41 shots) or defensive fortitude (115 points allowed). The Knicks, meanwhile, will be trying to repeat their nearly perfect offensive display that saw them pour in 41 first-quarter points against the Lakers in the Garden.

OKC Thunder vs Miami Heat, 5:30 p.m. ET

LeBron vs. Durant. D-Wade vs. Westbrook. Finals rematch. Take your pick, but Heat-Thunder in the their first meeting this season is the giant present under the tree you just can't wait to open. And here's a bonus storyline to watch: LeBron James hasn't been whistled for a foul since Dec. 8 — six full games.

Houston Rockets vs Chicago Bulls, 8 p.m. ET

 This showdown pits teams looking a lot different than last season. The Bulls have held their own without superstar Derrick Rose, who suffered a horrific knee injury in the opening game of the playoffs last season, and lead the Central Division. The Rockets retooled, too, but theirs was by design. They added Jeremy Lin as a free agent, but the bigger coup was getting James Harden in a trade with the Thunder. Now, the Rockets sit at 14-12 and have won five of their past six.

Denver Nuggets LA Clippers, 10:30 p.m. ET

When the Christmas Day schedule came out, Nuggets-Clippers was the proverbial lump of coal in our stocking. Now? It seems like the NBA might have saved the best for last. L.A.’s other team is on a franchise-record 13-game winning streak and could end Christmas Day with the best record in the Western Conference.

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