The NBA's Christmas Day slate kicks off with a rematch of one of the more intriguing first-round playoff series from last season, as the New York Knicks will host the Atlanta Hawks. The Hawks won that series in five games, so it's safe to say that the Knicks will be looking for a bit of revenge. New York won the first matchup of the season between the two teams back on Nov. 27, and the teams will meet two more times after Christmas -- once in January and once in March.
Neither team has gotten off to a great start to their current campaign -- both teams are currently positioned on the periphery of the crowded playoff picture in the Eastern Conference. Absences and injuries have played a part in both teams' slow starts, but both will be looking to bounce back over the remainder of the season, and a big win on Christmas would represent a solid start.
Here's everything you need to know about the matinee matchup between New York and Atlanta.
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- Date: Saturday, Dec. 25 | 12 p.m. ET
- Location: Madison Square Garden -- New York, New York
- TV: ESPN | Live stream: WatchESPN
- Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.)
- Odds: Knicks -5.5 | Over/Under: 211 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Hawks: Atlanta was the surprise of the playoffs last season, as it was able to charge all the way to the conference finals, knocking off the top-seeded 76ers in the process. This season though, they've had a tough time building off the momentum they established on that postseason run, despite the fact the team has largely the same roster. They've especially struggled on the defensive end, where they're ranked just 25th league-wide. Like many teams from across the league's landscape, the Hawks have a plethora of players in the league's health and safety protocols, and as a result, they will likely be working with a limited lineup on Christmas Day. They'll have to make the best of it, though, because every game is important when it comes to playoff positioning.
Knicks: Like the Hawks, the Knicks have struggled to build off the momentum that they built last season when they qualified for postseason play for the first time since 2013. After having one of the league's better defenses last season, the Knicks have dropped drastically on that end this season, and their offense hasn't been especially potent either.
In addition to the team's early-season struggles, the future of veteran guard Kemba Walker is a central storyline involving the Knicks. Walker lost his spot in the team's rotation, and he's voiced his disappointment with his lack of playing time. The Knicks are expected to look to potentially trade Walker prior to the trade deadline in February, so he'll be a name to keep an eye on.
The Knicks won the first meeting between the two teams this season, and they have the benefit of playing this game at home. Plus, they appear to be the slightly healthier team at this point in the season, so that should also work in their favor. Pick: Knicks -6