In today's episode, Michael and Chris break down the Christmas Day schedule, debate which teams have a right to feel disrespected by the release, digress into a deep conversation about whether Kevin Durant could ever be seen as LeBron James's equal, and more!
Michael Pina: On today's show Chris, we're going to talk about the Christmas Day schedule of games, NBA games that were released this week. It's an interesting slate I'd say. And the past two years, Golliver and I ranked each game on an excitement meter, basically from, least to most pumped up to watch each one. So we'll continue on that tradition here. And then also dig into what the schedule makers got wrong and discuss which teams should feel slighted or disrespected after not being selected. Before we get into the ranking, I just want to say I'm generally underwhelmed by this slate. There's one game that I can't wait for and I think we both kind of know which one that is. And we'll talk more closely about why I feel the way I do throughout these exercises. But just with regards to the general programming, what was your first reaction when you saw it?
Chris Herring: Some of these were some regular-season-ass-games man ... Like they're just regular-season games, a couple of them just happened to be on Christmas. I looked at them and I was like, OK, I guess, Celtics–Bucks? Like there's nothing Christmassy about that. And like you said, I mean, Jazz–Mavs? I'm like, OK, cool I guess they both probably deserve to get a Christmas game. But these might as well be on different days or like maybe opening week, but not necessarily Christmas. But I think what it says is that the league is really starved of rivalries. And maybe this is kind of the clearest example of that in my opinion.
Chris Herring: I looked at Hawks–Nicks and was kind of thinking that too, like, oh, OK, well, they're trying to do something with that. And I remember even tweeting, I hope this becomes a rivalry because it was pretty clear that there are some actual hard feelings during that series. At the same time—and I credited you for this months ago, you were maybe the only person I knew that picked that series in five in favor of the Hawks. But, it wasn't that competitive of a series. I mean, I guess it kind of was, some of the games were close. But, you know, a 4-1 series is not necessarily a Christmas matchup. I know that there was some animosity between Trae Young and Madison Square Garden, but if it weren't for that—if they'd flip this and put the game in Atlanta, I don't even think there would have been a good through-line for that matchup either.
Chris Herring: So the league will be fine with or without solid rivalries. It always is much better when it has them. But I think it really stands out on Christmas Day when you don't have them and you're just kind of trying to use star power or which teams were best last season to try to drive the entirety of who you've got playing against each other on Christmas. And yeah, I looked at it and there wasn't that much cohesion to the matchups in my opinion.
Michael Pina: Yeah, the rivalry point is really good. And I think there are some rivalries in the league that they ignored or neglected for whatever reason. The consolidation of star power is clear here. You know, there weren't a ton of stars who changed teams during the offseason or anything like that. But there are a couple of teams that have many stars on them, or at least big-name players. And when you have that, it just kind of dilutes the product a little bit. And then there are injuries to Kawhi Leonard and injuries to Jamal Murray, which are just a bummer. And I think the league also going from last year with the Pelicans and how they kind of tried to shove Zion Williamson down everyone's throat. The league clearly doesn't want to do that anymore with some of the young talents. LaMelo Ball would have been fun to see here, Zion frankly, is always fun to watch play basketball, um, Ja Morant, etc, etc. So you can go on and on with some really exciting teams potentially that just aren't here for whatever reason.