NBA Christmas TV Schedule And Picks: The Season Begins In Ridiculous Excess

The NBA season is finally here, albeit about seven weeks late. Opening Day, for the first time ever, doubles as the big NBA Christmas spectacular, with five games dotting the day. Action begins at noon ET. In advance of the first game -- Celtics at Knicks -- check out SI.com's Zach Lowe's primer for the five games.

The full schedule and our picks are below.

Game 1: Boston Celtics at New York Knicks, 12 p.m. ET, TNT

A rematch of last season's 3-6 match-up in the East, the Knicks come in more healthy and bolstered in free agency. The Knicks are 4.5-point home favorites, and they should be able to cover that.

Game 2: Miami Heat at Dallas Mavericks, 2:30 p.m. ET, ABC

The Mavericks are 4-point home underdogs to the team they beat in the 2011 NBA Finals. That sounds about right. Watching the Mavs raise the banner could incite carnage from the uber-talented Heat.

Game 3: Chicago Bulls at L.A. Lakers, 5 p.m. ET, ABC

The Bulls enter STAPLES Center 4.5-point favorites over the wounded Lakers. While I have serious concerns about the Lakers' frontcourt with Andrew Bynum out -- especially on defense at power forward, where Troy Murphy and Josh McRoberts will take minutes -- I think that L.A. can cover this with a narrow loss or outright win.

Game 4: Orlando Magic at Oklahoma City Thunder, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Thunder, led by Kevin Durant, open as 8.5-point home favorites over the Magic. Orlando's not that bad, is it? OKC beat the Magic by one at home and lost by 23 in Orlando last season. Granted, Kendrick Perkins didn't play in either game, and he'll suit up today. But that line is too big for Dwight Howard. The Magic should cover.

Game 5: L.A. Clippers at Golden State Warriors, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Warriors are 5.5-point home underdogs in the regular season debut of the new Clippers, and that's probably not enough. The Clippers should handle Golden State easily and cover that spread.

Follow all of the day's action in our NBA Christmas StoryStream.

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