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NBA Incoming: Previewing the Week Ahead (Dec. 24)

Returning players was the theme for the past week in the NBA.

Both Pau Gasol and Steve Nash returned for the Lakers, who returned to winning ways, at least for the time being. A much-needed Dirk Nowitzki began training with the Mavs. Ricky Rubio joined Kevin Love in returning to the T’Wolves.  Amar’e Stoudemire headed to the D-League to get some practice in, and while he hasn’t gotten back on the floor as quickly as was expected, his return is imminent.

Those returning players are set to make a big impact over the next few months, starting with this week’s blockbuster schedule. Here’s BettingSports.com’s pick of the top games this week.

The Entire Christmas Day Schedule

In a rematch of the 2012 NBA Finals, Oklahoma City will visit Miami on Christmas Day.

For most, Christmas Day is the crown jewel of the NBA calendar. For fans it represents the best way to spend Christmas afternoon/evening while for players and pundits it marks the start of the ‘real’ season. This year’s Christmas day calendar is as star-studded as any that has come before.

First up, Boston travels to Brooklyn to start the day (12 PM ET), before New York makes the 3,000-mile trip to Hollywood to take on the LA Lakers (3 PM ET).

The headline showdown comes as Oklahoma City travels to Miami (5:30 PM ET) in a rematch of last year’s NBA Finals.

Afterwards, Houston visits Chicago (8 PM ET), before Denver travels west to take on the LA Clippers (10:30 PM ET) in the second of two Christmas Day games at Staples Center. With a conveniently staggered schedule, there should be no reason to choose between any of these.

Chicago Bulls at Indiana Pacers (Wednesday)

Indiana and Chicago met in a close encounter earlier this month, with the Bulls edging out the Pacers 80-76. The Pacers will look to avenge that loss and make up some ground in the Central Division on Wednesday as they welcome the Bulls to Bankers Life Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis.

Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Clippers (Thursday)

Chris Paul and the Los Angeles Clippers have been one of the league's form sides of late.

Thursday’s game between the Celtics and Clippers at Staples Center may be less anticipated than the individual matchup it presents. In a battle of the two best point guards in the league, Rajon Rondo will take on Chris Paul in what is sure to be a fan-favorite clash. Paul and the Clippers are flying whilst Rondo and the Celtics have struggled for much of the season. Still, both sides will be up for this one, and both guards will be looking for bragging rights.

Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs (Friday)

Houston ends a three-game road trip – which starts in Chicago on Christmas Day – with a visit to San Antonio. San Antonio has already beaten Houston twice this month, blowing-out the Rockets in Houston 114-92 on Dec. 7, before a monster of a game in San Antonio on Dec. 10 that finished 134-126 after overtime and saw Jeremy Lin go for 38 points. The Rockets will be looking for revenge while the Spurs will look to keep pace with the league’s best.

Denver Nuggets at Memphis Grizzlies (Saturday)

One of the best teams in the Association, Memphis will look to avoid a third loss to Denver this season.

Memphis continues to be one of the NBA’s premier teams, going toe-to-toe with San Antonio in the Southwest Division. Denver has not been so fortunate but fans of the Nuggets will be looking forward to a week in which the team faces the Clippers (Tue.) and Lakers (Wed.) before taking on the Grizzlies. Denver’s high-scoring, hard-rebounding side will be up for this week, and will be confident against a Memphis side that it has already beaten twice this season.


Upcoming NBA Schedule

Mon 24: No Games Schedule

Tue 25: BOS @ BKN | NYK @ LAL | OKC @ MIA | HOU @ CHI | DEN @ LAC

Wed 26: CLE @ WAS | MIA @ CHA | NOH @ ORL | CHI @ IND | DET @ ATL | BKN @ MIL | PHI @ MEM | HOU @ MIN | TOR @ SAS | LAL @ DEN | GSW @ UTA | NYK @ PHX | SAC @ POR

Thu 27: DAL @ OKC | BOS @ LAC

Fri 28: ORL @ WAS | PHX @ IND | CHA @ BKN | MIA @ DET | ATL @ CLE | TOR @ NOH | DEN @ DAL | HOU @ SAS | LAC @ UTA | NYK @ SAC | POR @ LAL | PHI @ GSW

Sat 29: NOH @ CHA | IND @ ATL | TOR @ ORL | CLE @ BKN | WAS @ CHI | DEN @ MEM | OKC @ HOU | PHX @ MIN | MIA @ MIL | PHI @ POR | BOS @ GSW

Sun 30: MIL @ DET | SAS @ DAL | BOS @ SAC | UTA @ LAC

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