NBA Christmas Day: Embiid, Harden Dominate; Lakers Mavs in action


The holiday is here and five must-see matchups are on the NBA list – and our reporting squad is watching every second!

On Christmas Day, watch as Yaron Weitzman, Ric Bucher and Melissa Rohlin share their key takeaways from each primetime competition.

Philadelphia 76ers 119, New York Knicks 112

Current status: The Sixers are now 20-12 and currently on an eight-game winning streak. The Knicks are now down 18-16 and have lost three straight games.

Important statistics: Joel Embiid continued to maintain his claim as the game’s top player. He leads the league in goals, scoring 35 points in Sunday’s win.

main delivery: The story of this game – before and during – was James Harden. An hour before tip-off we got the bomb courtesy of ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowskithat Harden is “seriously considering a free-hand return to the Houston Rockets this July.” Then, during the game, Harden carved up the Knicks with 29 points and 13 assists, helping lead the 76ers to a 119-112 win at Madison Square Garden. The win marked the Sixers’ eighth consecutive win and showed what the team envisioned when pairing Harden with Embiid. Two dominant players (Embiid had 35 points in 12v22 shooting) who when at their best form an unbeatable combination. Of course, the question has always been whether the stars are interested and willing to work together. Games like this show what it looks like when they do. Reports like this morning’s are why it’s understandable if you have doubts. — Yaron Weitzman

Los Angeles Lakers @ Dallas Mavericks

Current status: Both LA and Dallas have been underpowered this season. The Lakers are 13-19 and have lost three straight games. They’re 13th in the West and in danger of missing the playoffs for a second straight year. The Mavs are eighth in the West at 17-16 and have won 5-5 in their last 10.

Important statistics: Luka Dončić is everything for Dallas. He leads the team in points (32.8), rebounds (8.3), assists (8.7), steals (1.7), field goal attempts (22.5), and free throw attempts (10.2). This season, the Mavs are 3-10 in games where Dončić either doesn’t play or scores 30 points or fewer. They are 14-6 if Dončić scores 31 or more points and 5-1 if he scores 40 or more points.

main delivery: coming!

Milwaukee Bucks @ Boston Celtics

Milwaukee Bucks


Boston Celtics


Current status: The Celtics and Bucks are arguably the two best teams in the league. Boston is first in the East, 23-10, despite losing five of their last seven. Milwaukee is 22-10 despite losing four of their last seven. One will make a statement on Sunday.

Important statistics: The Bucks are still trying to get All-Star forward Khris Middleton back in the fold after he missed the first 20 games of the season while recovering from wrist surgery. In the seven games he played this season, Milwaukee is 4-3 and Middleton is averaging 11.1 points on 32.5% shooting.

main delivery: coming!

Memphis Grizzlies @ Golden State Warriors

Memphis Grizzlies


Warriors of the Golden State


Current status: Memphis and the Golden State go in two different directions. The Grizz are second in the West, 20-11, but have the same record as the conference’s top team (Denver). They have also won eight of their last 10. The Warriors are 11th in the West, 15-18, and have lost seven of their last nine.

Important statistics: With Steph Curry down with a shoulder injury, the Warriors are 1-3. And though they did have a 16-point win in Toronto on Dec. 18, their three losses since Curry’s injury have averaged 26.7 points.

main delivery: coming!

Phoenix Suns @ Denver Nuggets

Phoenix Suns


Denver nuggets


Current status: Denver is in talks for the best team in the league, sitting 20-11 atop the West and having won six of their last seven. Phoenix, the top team in the West from a year ago, are fourth in the conference 19-14 but have won just three of their last 10 games.

Important statistics: Reigning MVP Nikola Jokić is likely to get better. He averages 24.9 points, 10.9 rebounds and is third in the NBA with 9.3 assists. He is the only non-point guard in the top 10 in assists and the only center in the top 37 (Embiid is 38th with 4.6 assists per game). Jokić also ranks first in the league in triple-double (six) and double-double (22) this season.

main delivery: coming!

Yaron Weitzman is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. He is the author of “Refueling to the Top: The Philadelphia 76ers and the Boldest Trial in Professional Sports History.”.” Follow him on Twitter @YaronWeitzman.

Ric Bucher is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. He previously wrote for Bleacher Report, ESPN The Magazine and The Washington Post and has authored two books, Rebound, about NBA forward Brian Grant’s battle with early-onset Parkinson’s disease, and Yao: A Life In Two Worlds. He also has a daily podcast, On The Ball with Ric Bucher. Follow him on Twitter @Ric Bucher.

Melissa Rohlin is an NBA writer for FOX Sports. She has previously covered the league for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Times, the Bay Area News Group and the San Antonio Express-News. Follow her on Twitter @melissarohlin.

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