You’ve had your excessive festive dinner, you’ve overdone it on the selection box and you’ve been hit by a monstrous wave of fatigue. You don’t have it in you to watch the Michael McIntyre DVD your uncle thought was an appropriate gift in the year of 2018 with the rest of the family. What do you do? Go take a breather in The Garden, of course…
The lowly New York Knicks will welcome Giannis Antetokounmpo and his soaring Milwaukee Bucks to Manhattan on Christmas Day. Barring a Fairytale Of New York, there is only one way this is going to play out. But despite how bad the Knicks are right now, the 24-year-old Grecian is playing at such a must-see level currently that his trip to one of the most famous venues on earth may just make this a must-see.
The Bucks have enjoyed a formidable start to the season, jostling for a top position in the Eastern Conference along with the Toronto Raptors. Sure, Antetokounmpo leads the way for Milwaukee with 26 points, 13 rebounds and 6 assists per game, at a clip of 58%, but he is not without help. The team have been playing high-level basketball with Khris Middleton averaging 17.4 points, as the Bucks’ leading outside threat, Eric Bledsoe serving as an efficient secondary ball-handler and a much-improved Brook Lopez showing his further-expanded shooting range.
For the Kristaps-less Knicks, it’s been a slightly different story as New York is finding this season to be another lengthy slog. Shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr has upped his contribution as the team’s leading scorer, while they are somewhat buoyed by the solid work of Turkish big Enes Kanter. The early-season excitement around rookie Kevin Knox has died down as, despite his promise, he clearly has a way to go.
In one of the most lopsided, narrative-driven rivalries in the history of basketball, you can expect some unwarranted hype around the Knicks’ Mario Hezonja, who should probably be wearing extra padding on the 25th. When the teams last played, Hezonja dunked over Antetokounmpo and channelled his inner-Iverson by stepping over his fallen body.
The admittedly impressive dunk put a cherry on top of a 12 minute, 2 rebound, 2 assist and 2-point tour-de-force for the Croatian, who likely made the biggest mistake of his career that evening. He clearly poked the bear, as Giannis went on record saying that he will “punch him in the nuts” if he tries to do it again.
With the lights of MSG shining down, thousands of families tuning in on Christmas Day and the added emotional motivation for the Greek Freak, we could be in for a special performance, making this fixture well worth a short break from your yuletide celebrations.