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NBA Christmas Day schedule 2013: Heat play Lakers, Warriors host Clippers

The new-look Brooklyn Nets will also host the Bulls and the Thunder visit Madison Square Garden to play the Knicks, while the Rockets visit San Antonio for a clash with the Spurs.

Victor Decolongon

Five games including 10 of the most question-laden teams will compose the Christmas day NBA schedule. It starts with a first-round classic from a year ago, a match-up between the NBA's two most popular players and finishes with a Western Conference showdown.

Chicago Bulls at Brooklyn Nets, 12 p.m. ET

The two teams from one of the best first-round series of the 2013 Playoffs meet on Christmas. Each will look a bit different. Out for the Bulls is feisty point guard Nate Robinson, and in is MVP Derrick Rose, who should be ready to play after missing last year with an ACL injury.

Brooklyn didn't lose much, but they did gain Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Andrei Kirilenko to an already talented core of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. How the Nets are doing a few months into first-year coach Jason Kidd's tenure will also be a storyline to keep tabs on.

Oklahoma City Thunder at New York Knicks, 2:30 p.m. ET

Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder have questions to answers after a failed run in the post-James Harden era. It didn't help that Westbrook injured himself in the playoffs, but the Thunder don't even have a Kevin Martin to fill the void left by Harden off the bench.

Unlike Oklahoma City, the Knicks did make some offseason moves to help its star, Carmelo Anthony. Andrea Bargnani gives New York a stretch big man and the acquisition of Metta World Peace -- plus the presence of Iman Shumpert -- gives the Knicks the ability to shut down a perimeter tandem like Durant and Westbrook.

Miami Heat at Los Angeles Lakers, 5 p.m. ET

The NBA's two most popular stars, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, clash in Los Angeles, but it might be smart to temper expectations a bit regarding one. Bryant's recovery from a torn Achilles has long been set at November or December, and even October. But there's still a long way for Bryant to first set foot on a court and then stay on it consistently.

Los Angeles moves into 2012-13 without Dwight Howard, but surprisingly it's the Heat who signed a center that was a first overall pick. Greg Oden joins James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade and, if healthy, only gives the two-time champions another scoring option.

Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs, 8 p.m. ET

The San Antonio Spurs will play the Houston Rockets, who, after signing free agent Dwight Howard, are on paper the biggest threat to the Spurs' top spot in the Western Conference.

San Antonio won't go quietly. Behind Tony Parker in his prime, Tim Duncan showed that he's still effective despite his age and Manu Ginobili re-upped rather than retiring. But the Rockets could be more and more like the Spurs as next season grows old, playing with one big man, lots of ball movement and having younger sets of legs than the other Texas-based powerhouse. Will this game mark the passing of the torch?

Los Angeles Clippers at Golden State Warriors, 10:30 p.m. ET

The Western Conference's most disappointing playoff team from a year ago has a similar roster and a new coach. The conference's most surprising playoff team only added to its arsenal.

The Los Angeles Clippers will be working through a process of learning how to win under coach Doc Rivers, and a Christmas day meeting against Mark Jackson's squad -- one that learned how to win in 2012-13 -- will be an part of that process. Likewise, the Warriors added Andre Iguodala into the fold, and how the rotation and fit is doing in late December could be a pivotal point for any future success.

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