The holiday season is a time for giving, for sharing, for reconnecting with family and friends… Oh screw it, it’s a time to sit on your backside and watch five marquee matchups of NBA action in one day!
The Christmas Day lineup is a stacked one this year.
It tips off with the Celtics traveling to the other Garden in Gotham to take on Carmelo and his Knicks… well, at least that’s how George Karl would describe it. I’ll be watching to see if Isaiah Thomas can replicate his 44-point effort from last week or if the Zinger can make Christmas Day his own.
Next up—no mucking around—it’s straight into the NBA Finals rematch we’ve been waiting for. The Dubs travel to Cleveland, and I’m sure there’s no place they’d rather spend Christmas. It’ll be the first time the King takes on the reloaded Warriors, and while it’s likely a preview of this season’s Finals, these games have a tendency to fizzle. But don’t let that stop you from seeing if Kyrie has some more heroics in store or if KD makes all the difference for his new homies.
The Bulls travel to San Antonio to face the Spurs in what many expect to be the least exciting fixture of the day, but I’m looking forward to this one. Pau against his old team, D-Wade facing his old foes and Kawhi versus Jimmy Butler should be fun. Plus, we get to see Patty Mills. He’s the only Aussie in action on Christmas Day this year.
The young and struggling Timberwolves are up next against Mr. Triple-Double and his pals in OKC. The Wolves continue to find new and creative ways to lose games and if Tom Thibodeau’s hair wasn’t already falling out… well, you get the idea. I’m looking forward to Zach LaVine, fresh off his career night yesterday, trying to prove to the world that he can hang with Russ, while Thibodeau, Towns and Wiggins shake their heads in despair.
And the final billing is a cross-town matchup that could be more interesting than we realise as the short-handed Clippers play a “road” game against the purple and gold. The Lakers have been struggling since their unexpectedly strong start and desperately need a win to stem the tide. If CP3 can’t go in this one, they may have a chance.
Whichever game you’re hanging out for, there’s plenty to be cheerful about, so spread that holiday spirit and enjoy the action as you hand out gifts to your loved ones.
If you’re looking for some extra gifts for your fantasy squad in the final matchup of 2016, look no further as Downtown is listening to the Holiday Music of the Traffic, to make sure you end the year with a smile.
From all of us at Downtown, have a very merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah and a wonderful new year!
Week 10 (Dec. 26 – Jan. 1)
4 games: ATL, CHA, CHI, DAL, DET, HOU, IND, LAC, MEM, MIA, MIL, MIN, PHO, POR, TOR
3 games: BOS, BKN, CLE, DEN, LAL, NOR, NYK, OKC, ORL, PHI, SAC, SAS, UTA, WAS
2 games: GSW
One gift you’re sure to benefit from is the Week 10 schedule, which sees 15 teams with four games and 14 teams with three, with the Warriors getting some extra rest after their Christmas tilt in Cleveland. As tempting as it might be, you can keep JaVale McGee on ice a little longer.
The following players may be available in standard 10- or 12-team leagues.
Cody Zeller (PF/C, CHA): Now the undisputed starting five man for the Hornets, Zeller is pushing to be the undisputed best big man on the Hornets too. With Marvin Williams struggling, Roy Hibbert resigned to backup minutes and Frank Kaminsky still battling for consistency, Zeller has been solid the past few weeks. He’s averaged 12 and 7 with 1.3 blocks over the past two weeks and stepped it up to 13.3 points and 7.7 rebounds over the past seven days. That’s top-70 value, yet he’s out there in over 50 percent of leagues. He’s an undisputed asset in 12-team leagues and should be grabbed.
Dirk Nowitzki (PF/C, DAL): It’s a Christmas miracle! The Diggler returned against the Clippers and put up a very Dirk-like (i.e. efficient) 17 points in 15 minutes. He’ll be on a minutes limit initially and won’t play in back-to-backs, but the production is worth it if you can afford to take a hit every now and then. He’s out there in nearly half of ESPN leagues and 20 percent of Yahoo leagues, so if he was dropped in yours, take a chance.
— NBA (@NBA) December 24, 2016
Jon Leuer (PF/C, DET): This one goes out to my favourite fantversation (yes it’s a word—a fantasy conversation) buddy, Boomba. He’s been singing the praises of the other Sweet Leu for a couple weeks and I’ve been shrugging it off as unsustainable. I concede Boomba, I concede! Leuer has delivered top-60 value the past two weeks and bumped it up to top-35 value the past week. He averaged 17.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2.3 assists and shot .674 from the field and 10-of-10 free throws over a four-game span, and moved into the starting lineup yesterday as a result. Jonny Leu? Who knew?
Luol Deng (SF/PF, LAL): I’m not really sure why Luke Walton persists in starting Deng over Brandon Ingram—maybe Deng has some dirt on him? Whatever the reason, Deng is producing the best ball of his season to date right now. He’s averaging 12.5 points, eight rebounds, 2.3 assists, one block, 0.8 steals, two triples and a .487 field goal clip over his past four games. He’s available in over 40 percent of Yahoo leagues and over 60 percent of ESPN leagues, so until that dirt runs out, he’s worth a look in 12-team leagues.
Nick Young (SG/SF, LAL): Looking for some Christmas Swag? Deng’s teammate has been on fire the past week, averaging 22.8 points and one steal with five triples per game at a crazy .550 field goal clip over his previous four games (top-10 value) before slowing down yesterday. He loves the spotlight, so Christmas Day should be just the stage to get him going again. While he’s this hot, he must be owned.
Chandler Parsons (SF/PF, MEM): Don’t look at his stats yet, but Parsons—available in over 50 percent of ESPN and nearly 30 percent of Yahoo leagues—is back on the court and building up his minutes slowly. This is a stash of sorts, banking on him coming healthy and regaining his form from recent years. If he does, he could be a real difference-maker down the stretch. Could be just the gift you’re looking for.
Elfrid Payton (PG, ORL): It’s unlikely he’s available outside of some 10-team formats, but he is available in 30 percent of leagues right now. Payton was demoted to back-up D.J. Augustin in late November, but has continued to produce of late. In fact, he’s playing more minutes than Augustin and for good reason. Elfrid is averaging 17.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 5.5 assists, one steal, one three and 58 percent shooting from the field over his past four games. He’s also hitting 80 percent from the line, where he normally shoots in the 60s. He is a must-own in all formats right now.
Ones to Watch:
Nikola Mirotic (SF/PF, CHI): My homeboy Niko has had a rough go of it lately, earning DNP-CDs for the first time since his rookie year, but he looks to have turned that around. He’s played right around 20 minutes per game over the Bulls’ past three games and scored in double digits in each, while adding 6.7 rebounds and 2.3 triples per contest. If he keeps his rotation spot, he’s worth a look in 12-teamers again.
Malcolm Brogdon (SG, MIL): The rookie has stepped it up a gear of late and I don’t just mean his dunks on LeBron and Kyrie during the week. No, the shooting guard has gained confidence and is providing some solid production off the bench for Jason Kidd to the tune of 11.3 points, three rebounds, 6.3 assists, two steals and 1.3 triples over his past three games. He went 7-of-7 yesterday and is worth keeping an eye on for the next little while.
Willy Hernangomez (C, NYK): The talented Spaniard has had a big year. He won a bronze medal in Rio (sigh) before finally coming across from the ACB to the NBA with the Knicks. He quickly solidified the backup centre role behind Joakim Noah and has stepped up recently, even with Noah playing. Big Willy has averaged 11.5 points, 9.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks while shooting .543 on field goals over his past four games. He’s certainly one to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
Don’t be afraid to mix things up this holiday season and set yourself up for the new year!
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