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NBA

Who would you like to see play on Christmas Day?

kawhi-lebron-062519-ftr-getty.jpg
Kawhi Leonard and LeBron James (NBA Getty Images)

Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21): It's Christmas in July! Well, we're officially five months out from one of the biggest days in NBA's regular season anyway.

After one of the craziest offseasons in NBA history, there are plenty of potential matchups tailor-made for a Christmas Day schedule. So many, in fact, that it's almost impossible to choose just five.

In the (early) holiday spirit, what's the first game to come to mind on your personal wishlist?

Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_): Right away, the first game that comes to mind for me is Clippers vs. Lakers: The Battle for LA.

These are going to be two of the best teams in the league this upcoming season and we'll get to see four of the best players in the NBA today - Kawhi Leonard and Paul George vs. LeBron James and Anthony Davis - go at it while fighting over their own home court.

That has Christmas Day written all over it.

MORE: Who has the best duo in LA?

McGregor: Yeah, that's a no-brainer. I'm with you on that.

Honestly, I think Christmas should be the first meeting of the season between the two teams. Let's build the anticipation a bit and let these teams get used to playing with one another

Irving: Just like Lakers vs. Warriors last year. But you're right, it is a no-brainer. That's not even a Christmas wishlist item, that's like getting socks and underwear. You just know it's going to happen.

McGregor: 😂😂😂 and for us NBA fans, it's just as much of a necessity, too.

As you know, there are four more games we've gotta figure out to flesh out this dream schedule … What's next?

Irving: If we're talking wishlist items - not something as obvious as Lakers vs. Clippers - I don't want, but I need Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets in Boston in front of a rocking TD Garden crowd.

McGregor: Ooh okay, I see where you're going here.

Kyrie's return is must-see … but do you think this one has the same lustre without Kevin Durant? I mean, Boston is head and shoulders ahead of Brooklyn right now, or they should be, right?

DIVISIONAL RANKINGS: Who's the best team in the Atlantic?

Irving: I think even without KD, the Boston vs. Kyrie tension is enough to carry the weight here. Both of these teams should be playoff teams next season. It's not even that crazy to think that these teams could see each other in the first round of the playoffs next season.

It wouldn't be the most pleasant Christmas Day experience for Kyrie - it'd be like getting coal in his stocking - but he's a gamer and gets up for games like this just as he did on Christmas Day as a member of the Celtics last year. It would be must-see-TV.

McGregor: Fair point.

Recency bias must be getting the best of me because all I can think of is his last four games against the Bucks in the playoffs. I'm not exactly trying to see that on Christmas. That would be like me getting coal in my stocking.

But, if we could get more of what we saw from him against the Sixers last year, I'd be in.

Irving: What's at the top of your wishlist for Christmas Day games next year?

McGregor: Aside from the obvious Battle for LA, give me 76ers-Bucks.

Giannis Antetokounmpo got his first taste of Christmas Day action last year vs. the Knicks, now it's time for the MVP to lead his team up against another favourite in the East.

Irving: I'm all for that, especially after their meeting toward the end of the season last year. Remember this sequence?

Rachel Nichols didn't get her wish of seeing them go at it in the playoffs (thanks, Kawhi) but let's see them go at it again on Christmas. These are going to be the two best teams in the East next year.

McGregor: Speaking of the Knicks, I had to look it up: They've played on Christmas nine of the last 10 years.

You think there's room to make it 10 out of 11 this year?

Irving: I don't see why not. I'd love to see an RJ Barrett vs. Zion Williamson matchup to get the holiday started.

Two big-named rookies, ex-college teammates and good friends going head-to-head on one of the regular season's biggest stages at MSG. Sign me up.

McGregor: You know, I wouldn't mind seeing Zion make his pro debut at MSG on Christmas, but that makes four out of a possible five games and I'm reluctant to be all-in on that.

You're not going to show the defending champs any love?

Irving: No disrespect to the defending champs, but without Kawhi Leonard on that roster, I'm not sure they'll get their rightfully-deserved Christmas Day game.

But honestly, I wouldn't hate seeing the Raptors play the Knicks at MSG for their second Christmas game in franchise history. The only other tie (aside from the Canada connection with RJ and Iggy Brazdeikis) is that the Raps made their Christmas Day debut vs. the Knicks in 2001. It would be nice for the league to pay its respects to the champs.

McGregor: I could see it going either way. It seems like if it wouldn't happen any other year, it would have to be the year coming off of a title.

Like you said, it's rightfully deserved. Kawhi might be gone, but the Raps still have a five-time All-Star running the show and a burgeoning All-Star in Pascal Siakam.

I'm gonna give them a slight edge as a sign of respect here.

Irving: So that's four potential games right there. What West Coast showdown would you want to see to close out the five-game slate?

McGregor: Well, there's no shortage of teams to choose from - Denver, Golden State, Houston, Portland and Utah are all worthy candidates - but I'd love to close the day out with the Rockets visiting the Warriors.

The Warriors reign might be coming to an end, and we'll see them host the team they've faced year after year in the postseason. Plus, the Chase Center should still have that new arena smell.

Irving: I'd be happy with any combination of those five teams. Houston at Golden State is a good one and the new arena makes it even more of a draw, but give me Houston at Portland.

I want to see Russell Westbrook and Damian Lillard battle again.

Russ in his new threads, two of the best backcourts in the league and potentially a new rivalry in the West. This would be a great nightcap between a team that went to the Western Conference Finals last season versus a team that is more than capable of reaching the Western Conference Finals this upcoming season.

McGregor: Man, that's a good one too. Add Denver at Golden State as another possibility. It's almost impossible to choose.

With that being said, how does your ideal schedule look now that we've fleshed it out?

Irving:

McGregor: I've got some similarities, but I'm going:

Irving: No matter how the schedule shapes out, I'm sure we'll be glued to the TV for 12-plus hours on Christmas.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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