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Plenty of intrigue on NBA's Christmas schedule

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Plenty of intrigue on NBA's Christmas schedule

The NBA's hottest team will be playing at home in Los Angeles, and it's the Clippers, not the Lakers. There's a finals rematch in Miami, a holiday matinee in Brooklyn, Kobe vs. the Knicks and the 20th anniversary of one of Michael Jordan's most memorable games in Chicago.

Welcome to Christmas, NBA style.

A five-game slate makes up the NBA's Christmas schedule, which this year comes with the additional bonus of not being the first day back after a lockout forced the cancellation of the opening portion of last season.

Schedule-makers set the matchups long ago, and the league always tries to get some marquee meetings.

This year, they pretty much struck gold.

The Clippers are riding a franchise-record 13-game winning streak. The New York Knicks will face their former coach, Mike D'Antoni, when they play the Lakers. Miami and Oklahoma City will be bringing the best records in their respective conferences into their first matchup since the Heat won the title. And Brooklyn and Boston face off, a few weeks after the teams started shoving one another and firing off some insults afterward.

``I don't know how much bad blood is still there,'' Nets guard Deron Williams told reporters Monday. ``We beat them twice this year. I know they're aware of that and they'll come in ready to play.''

On Christmas, that's the case with everybody.

``There's nothing like playing on Christmas,'' Knicks star Carmelo Anthony said.

Los Angeles will be the center of the league's Christmas bash, with two games at Staples Center on the same day, including an opener that features two teams which got off to surprising starts in very different ways.

The Knicks - with an Eastern Conference-leading 20 wins so far - venture out to play Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers, who reworked their roster over the summer and reworked their coaching staff after a slow early start, firing Mike Brown and bringing in D'Antoni.

It's the 48th time playing on Christmas for the Knicks, but only the eighth time on the road.

``When we were younger, watching the Christmas Day games was always special,'' Knicks forward Steve Novak said in a video posted to the team's website. ``We know we can't play basketball forever, so for this time in our life, to be away from our families and be able to play on TV on Christmas Day is really special.''

Finish that game, clear the court, and basketball fans in Los Angeles then get a second present - the NBA's best team of late.

The Clippers, winners of a franchise-record 13 straight, close the five-pack of games against the Denver Nuggets. For the Clippers, it will be only the fourth Christmas home game in franchise history. For comparison's sake, Bryant will be playing on the holiday for the 15th time, and this will be his 12th time doing so at home.

``It will be a good challenge for us,'' Denver forward Danilo Gallinari told reporters when asked about facing the Clippers. ``And we'll be ready for them.''

So after Boston-Brooklyn, Knicks-Lakers and Thunder-Heat comes the fourth game of the day when Houston goes to Chicago, exactly 20 years after Jordan put up a Christmas show of his own with a 42-point, eight-rebound effort to lift the Bulls over New York 89-77.

Derrick Rose remains out for the Bulls, of course, but there is one reunion to take note of - it'll be Omer Asik's first time playing in Chicago since he joined the Rockets this past offseason.

And that sets the table for the nightcap, when the Nuggets meet the Clippers.

Maybe the best matchup of all comes in Miami, where the Thunder meet the Heat in what's sure to be an emotionally charged day. First, it's a finals rematch. Secondly, the teams will also pay tribute to military families by handing out gifts to children on the court immediately before the game, and both clubs will wear ribbons to honor those who were killed in the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., earlier this month.

Several Heat players, including LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, said that playing on Christmas is difficult because of their desire for family time.

At the same time, both also said it's an honor - especially so as the league's reigning champions.

``I think it's great for the fans, having those games,'' James said. ``But for us, as family men, Christmas is a day that we would love to spend with our family and be home with our family. I have no problem with the game as scheduled. I love to play the game, I love to play basketball so I'm going to be out there and I'm going to be excited for it.''

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2020 NBA Trade Deadline Tracker: Latest news, reports and rumors

2020 NBA Trade Deadline Tracker: Latest news, reports and rumors

Just beyond midway through the NBA season, the NBA trade deadline has come into view. Several teams will get the opportunity to go all-in on this season while others will have the opportunity to sell-off assets and re-tool for the future. 

With this NBA season as open as ever, this could be the lone chance for a team to attempt to make a push. 

The Miami Heat are all of a sudden contenders and maybe one or two pieces away from playing late into the playoffs. While they have a decent group of young players, their immediate future could be in question. They're not the only ones as the Dallas Mavericks and Denver Nuggets are competing for the top spots in the Western Conference as well. 

On the flip side, there are teams with big contracts not going anywhere. Kevin Love, paired with his discontent in Cleveland, is likely on the market. Andre Drummond is one of the most dominant post players in the game, but he is making $27 million on a team that is not making the playoffs and are aging quickly. And there is Andre Iguodala sitting in Memphis, doing nothing. 

Every year the NBA Trade Deadline never fails to disappoint. More often than not, it doesn't push a team over the edge to a championship, but it sure is fun for the rest of us. 

This year, the 2020 NBA Trade Deadline is Thursday, June 6 at 3:00 p.m. ET.

NBA Deadline Tracker: 

Jan. 21 - After initially be open to several trade options, the Pelicans have "pulled back in their trade talks among all of their players." New Orleans is waiting to see how Zion Williamson bolsters their team that is still in the playoff picture, according to Adrian Wojnarowski

Jan. 20 - The Lakers and 76ers have expressed interest in trading for current Detroit Piston and former league MVP Derrick Rose, Chris Haynes reports.

Jan. 18 - The Portland Trail Blazers trade Kent Bazemore, Anthony  Tolliver and two second-round draft picks to the Sacramento Kings for Trevor Ariza, Wenyen Gabriel and Caleb Swanigan, according to Adrian Wojnarowski.

Jan. 16 - Moving Jeff Teague may have been the first domino for the Timberwolves. Minnesota is now trying to acquire D'Angelo Russell from the Warriors to fill in his space, according to The Athletic.

Jan. 16 - Jeff Teague is leaving the Minnesota Timberwolves after being traded to the Atlanta Hawks. He and Treveon Graham head to Atlanta as Allen Crabbe goes to Minnesota, according to Adrian Wojnarowski

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Emma Meesseman posts an incredibly efficient game in the Euroleague, scoring 20 points in 21 minutes

Emma Meesseman posts an incredibly efficient game in the Euroleague, scoring 20 points in 21 minutes

Emma Meesseman is a walking bucket. She proved it in the WNBA Finals and is continuing to score in bunches in the EuroLeague. 

Playing for UMMC Ekaterinburg, Meesseman went off again. Shooting an incredible 9-for-11 from the field (82%), she posted 20 points in 21 minutes during their win over ZVVZ USK Praha.

Just take a glimpse of Meesseman's highlights from that game. She got her shot to go from every corner of the court. 

The win moved UMMC Ekaterinburg (10-1) to the top of Pool A of the EuroLeague and Meesseman has been a huge part of it. Throughout the season, she's averaged 15 points, shooting 67% from the field and 64% from 3-point range. 

Meesseman just recently won the WNBA Finals MVP award for the Washington Mystics last season. In the WNBA Finals, she posted nearly 18 points a game coming off the bench to lead the team. 

Other WNBA stars Courtney Vandersloot, Brittney Griner and Jonquel Jones also play with Meesseman on the same team. 

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