Results of Christmas games in the NBA: New York-Milwaukee, Denver-Golden State, Lakers-Celtics

The New York talent ended up scoring 38 points and 6 assists, with 32 points each for Antetokounmpo and Lillard, but on defense the Bucks were a sieve. Denver wins in a sprint over Golden State thanks to Murray, the Serbian scores 26 and Steph 18

The first round of the NBA Christmas roster is a surprise! New York beat Milwaukee 129-122, fresh off a 7-game winning streak, which instead dominated the head-to-head matchup just 48 hours earlier at the Garden 130-111. But this time, the scenario is flipped: the Knicks dominate at home, and the Bucks always struggle and don't defend enough to even force the enemy. But the second cycle is confirmation: Denver is the reference team of the Western Conference, and they repeated that by beating Golden State 120-114, but on the rise. Jokic and Curry walk erratically, and the final word goes to Murray, instead. The basketball party continues on December 25 with Los Angeles Lakers-Boston, then on the Italian night Miami-Philadelphia and Phoenix-Dallas.

New York-Milwaukee 129-122

Bronson is a great player. He is not afraid of exposure and pressure, in fact, he wallows in it. He shows the way for his team, top scorer and leader, this time with 38 points. It all begins and ends with Brunson for Team Thibodeau. Then there are the variables: Randle and Barrett aren't always consistent in-game and game-to-game, but they help put points on the scoreboard. And when they find a rhythm, Barrett in the first half, Randle in the second, they often become too much to contain. Then off the bench Hart and Kweli are added value with energy, defense and intensity for the Manhattan franchise (17-12). Which doesn't have the potential of Boston, Milwaukee, Philadelphia, or maybe Miami, but it falls right behind the “Battleships” in the Eastern grid, if only because it's choral. And he defends. Or Stampede don't play with Thibodeau. It helps compensate for some obvious offensive limitations.

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Disadvantages of dollars

It is huge and unforgivable. You can see the glass half full and point out that playing the opposite way, Milwaukee has a 22-8 record, or the glass half empty and say coaching worse than Griffin does is difficult, even if you wanted to. You pay the price as a rookie as a head coach. The reason for his selection, with his immediate ambition for the title, after the Lillard deal, remains a mystery. First of all, Milwaukee doesn't defend. He doesn't even keep appearances. He almost avoids it. Nobody makes a mistake in this half of the field, except old Lopez. We don't talk much or only about team structure, or about objective shortcomings in team building, but about behavior. No one returns, no one fights, no one is accustomed to or responsible for containing his direct opponent. On offense, Griffin gives Antetokounmpo freedom and foots the bill. Giannis is an exceptional finisher, but as a creator he often makes mistakes in his readings of the game. Flashes of the Greek, Lady and Middleton's sheer ability, growing, still keep Milwaukee in the game, but there is no head and tail in the Bucks' offensive system.

the match

New York starts better: 36-27 at the end of the first quarter. Brunson already with 12 points. A “massive attack” from Lillard brings Milwaukee back to -5, but the Bucks do not defend or even pretend, and we do not talk much or only about Lillard, but rather about Beasley and Giannis, who must be specialists, and they fall behind in the first half 51-62. Bronson with 20 points and the ability to write decisive baskets like Hollywood director Barrett, who was disastrous two days ago with 18 points. The Bucks shoot 6/22 from 3-point range and Giannis 1/4 from free throws… At the beginning of the second half Knicks +14, but Milwaukee has too much offensive talent not to come back: a three-pointer from Connaughton makes it -4 at 73-77. Hart off the bench with his dynamism and some opportunistic baskets put the Knicks back in front by double digits: 98-87 after 36 minutes. The difference in intensity between the two teams is as great as the Grand Canyon. The Bucks didn't even come back when New York started the transition…a 3-pointer from Quickley put the game at 111-96 with just over 7 minutes to play. Milwaukee had at least one shock: Portis scored the basket-6 with 1'30 minutes left, putting the exclamation point at 13-4 partway through. But Bronson answers immediately, and who else? game over. Knicks wins.

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New York: Brunson 38 (14/25, 1/3, 7/9), Randle 24, Barrett 21. Rembalzi: Randle/Hart 9. Assists: Brunson 6.

milwaukee: Lillard and Antetokounmpo 32, Middleton 24. Rebounds: Antetokounmpo 13. Assists: Lillard 8.

Denver-Golden State 120-114

Jokic and Curry are not doing the magic this time. Denver won (22-10), confirming that it is the best team from Golden State, other than the single leader in the group. He triumphed in the sprint thanks to Murray and certainly the more experienced first quintet, with greater certainty. And also for the many triple fouls by the Splash Brothers: 6/23 combined as threes by Steph and Thompson: to win in Ball Arena, home of the defending champions, more are needed. However, the Warriors (15-15), off a five-game winning streak, are confirming their growth even without the suspended Green: Wiggins is showing signs of reawakening, scoring 10 points in the fourth period, Podzemski and Jackson-Davis are intriguing, and quality freshmen. Nuggets win fifth in a row: They remain the team to beat in the West, even if their bench remains unconvincing, inexperienced and unreliable, albeit talented.

the match

29-26 to Denver at the end of the first quarter. 10 points for Porter, a good contribution from Saric at the end of the half to reduce the gap in front of the Double. The first outside advantage comes with a hat-trick from the usually very clear Paul at 39-37. Curry's first point – a 26 plus/minus – came with a 5'42″ play in the second quarter. The Dubs are still up by two points because Denver's bench is a disaster. Then Jokic and Murray go back to playing together and the score reaches 11-0 for Coach Malone's boys. Warriors respond: 8-0 at halftime: They lead 54-53 at halftime. Curry has only 4 points, and Jokic has 6. Porter (15) and Wiggins (10) are the top scorers. Denver scored 39 points in the third quarter, as Jokic dominated from the line, hitting 10 free throws on as many attempts, but the Warriors were still there after 36 minutes: 92-89 for the home team. Indeed, they were outscored 93-92 with Paul and Saric, the usual ones, plus Podzemski, which we in Italy were hoping Nico Mannion would be able to achieve with the Warriors after the Californians were invited to the 2020 draft. We arrive in a sprint: there are too many players available From the open 3s that Kerr misses, Murray wins on offense. Jokic's goal was the icing on the cake for the Nuggets: the defending champions beat their counterpart two seasons ago.

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Denver: Murray 28 (7/13, 3/5, 5/5), Jokic 26, Porter 19. Rembalzi: Jokic 14. Assists: Jokic 8.

Golden State: Wiggins 22 (5/7, 2/4, 6/6), Curry 18, Saric 14. Rembalze: Under 9. Assists: Under 6.

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