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Merry Canis Christmas

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Hope you are spending the day with people you care about

Milwaukee Bucks v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

First of all, Merry Christmas to all who celebrate. Whether you do or you don’t, I sincerely hope you have the opportunity to spend time with people you care about this holiday season, and really, always.

I’ve mentioned this numerous times, but the biggest reason I took over Canis as site manager when Nate stepped down is because I absolutely needed this place to continue on in the same spirit. I needed it for my mental health. I needed it because my relationships here were about the only ones I was capable of maintaining.

The holidays can be an especially difficult time for people struggling mentally, emotionally, or in other ways. If you are, I implore you to seek help. That can be so, so difficult, as I can personally attest to, but it’s possible.

One thing I’m proud of is the nature of the community we’ve built. We’re here. We are always here. Whether you are surrounded by friends and family, or whether you are home by yourself on the couch (raises hand), we’re here. We’re here to talk basketball and everything else under the sun.

Five games on the slate today, as is NBA Christmas tradition. This Jew plans to be on my couch watching, at least until I fall asleep. I’ll be here chatting, so let me know how your day is going, what you think of the games, and whether you had something good to eat.

Most importantly, the Canis writing team would like to thank you for reading and participating, We could not be more appreciative of everyone who stops by to chat.

Best, Eric

Celtics at Raptors
11:00 am CST
ESPN

A pretty tasty appetizer this. Two of the top four teams in the East face off with both teams playing well. Unfortunately, Raps star Pasal Siakam is out with an injury (as is Marc Gasol) which lessens the interest, but it still should be a good ball game.

The Celtics are quietly having a championship caliber season—top five in both offense and defensive rating. Kemba Walker has stepped right in for Kyrie Irving, and what I thought was going to be a big loss, Al Horford, has not really hurt them much so far.

Bucks at Sixers
1:30 CST
ABC

Perhaps the best game of the day. The Bucks have been the best team in the league thus far, and the Sixers are just oozing talent. The Bucks are of course led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is having another MVP caliber season, and have an amazingly well put together roster. They are 3rd in offense and tops in defensive rating, and lead the league in a ton of important things. They are deep, they give up very little defensively, and they have a year of experience under their belts.

The Sixers haven’t been a disappointment exactly at 22-10, but perhaps have not been as dominant as we expected. Still, they are big, athletic and talented. Joel Embiid is an All-NBA caliber player, and the other four starters are All-star caliber guys in their year. The offense can struggle at times because they don’t have a ton of three point shooting and they tend to turn it over, but they are a great rebounding team at both ends of the floor.

Rockets at Warriors
4:00 CST
ABC

Well, this one looked a lot better when the schedule was made. Another battle between two rivals, with the Rockets still striving to get past the Warriors in the West. All of that is gone now of course, with the entire Warriors roster decimated by injury. They sit at the bottom of the Western Conference standings. They can still beat the Wolves, however, so there’s that.

Led by James Harden, who is having just an incredible year scoring (38.6 per), the Rockets once again have a top offense in the league. They have not been as sharp defensively however, and it’s not clear that they haven’t missed their window at this point. Exchanging Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook has not done them any real favors. Still, they are third in the West, and will continue to try to add pieces for another playoff run.

Clippers at Lakers
7:00 CST
ABC

The headliner. Two teams most expect to make deep playoff runs behind sets of superstars. Hopefully all four of the stars play; Kawhi Leonard has been listed as day to day with a sore knee, and both LeBron James and Anthony Davis are questionable, though expected to play. The Lakers have been off to the better start, with James playing incredible basketball and the Lakers controlling both ends of the floor.

The Clippers, who missed Paul George for the first part of the season, have not been quite as consistent, but when they are playing well, they are as good as anyone. Leonard and George get the headlines, but the Clips are very deep in quality contributors around those guys.

Pelicans at Nuggets
9:30 pm CST
ESPN

Welp. This one was scheduled with the idea that Zion Williamson would be a rookie phenomenon, and a reason to tune in to see the Pelicans. Unfortunately, it hasn’t played out that way, as Williamson has not played at all this season due to injury. The Pels have been a real disappointment; Even showing some signs of life recently, they remain near the bottom of the standings.

The Nuggets are quietly second in the West, despite a sometimes sputtering offense. Their defense has been top notch, and Nikola Jokic remains a huge threat both scoring and distributing the ball.

Enjoy the games, and talk about them (and anything else) here.

Once again, thanks for reading.