A Complete Guide to NBA Christmas Schedule
We all know that the NFL owns Thanksgiving Day when it comes to providing holiday entertainment, but there’s also no doubt that the NBA owns Christmas. One could argue that the NBA has outdone itself. Out of all of the big days on the NBA schedule, Christmas Day might be the one that fans look forward to the most. The NBA Christmas schedule this year includes five back-to-back games with each matchup just as good if not better than the one that preceded it. Whether you stay home and watch or want to celebrate the holiday by seeing one of these awesome games in person, you’ll surely be entertained all day. Let’s take a closer look at all five NBA games on the Christmas Day schedule.
Celtics at Raptors
Without Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors aren’t exactly the same team they were when they won the NBA championship last season. However, it’s not like they’re suddenly a bad team without him. The Raptors are still a viable contender in the Eastern Conference and a team worthy of a Christmas Day game. In fact, forward Pascal Siakam is in the midst of a breakout season and is a player who fans will want to watch closely in the Christmas Day spotlight. Plus, they’ll be playing host to the Celtics, who look like the early favorites in the Eastern Conference. Kemba Walker is settled in nicely with his new team, immediately taking the reins as Boston’s leader. On Christmas, he’ll lead the Celtics against the defending champs to kick off the NBA’s quintuple-header.
Bucks at 76ers
When the NBA Christmas schedule was announced, this game looked like a potential preview of the Eastern Conference Finals. We’re a long way from seeing that come to fruition, especially after Philadelphia’s uneven start to the season, but it is still one of the more compelling games of the day. Giannis Antetokounmpo is the NBA’s reigning MVP and is having another brilliant season, averaging over 30 points per game through his team’s first dozen games. He alone is a good reason for the Bucks to be playing on Christmas Day. The 76ers, on the other hand, remain a work-in-progress at some of their offseason moves. However, there’s every chance they’ll start to click by the end of December. There’s also no shortage of star power on the Philadelphia roster with Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, among others.
Rockets at Warriors
Obviously, this game isn’t shaping up to be what the NBA was hoping it would be when the schedule came out. Stephen Curry is injured and will be lucky to return before the end of the regular season, much less by Christmas. The Warriors are also spending the season without Klay Thompson. Without both players and the departed Kevin Durant, Golden State is suddenly one of the worst teams in the NBA. However, the Warriors will still have D’Angelo Russell and Draymond Green when they go to battle with the Rockets on Christmas Day. Plus, the Rockets have plenty of star power on their roster to make this an intriguing game. James Harden is putting up insane scoring numbers this year. After averaging over 30 points and leading the league in scoring the past two seasons, Harden is averaging close to 40 points per game during the early part of the 2019-20 NBA season. Russell Westbrook also gives fans another marquee player to watch on Christmas against the injury-plagued Warriors.
Clippers at Lakers
This is arguably the most compelling game on the NBA Christmas schedule, as the Lakers and Clippers battle for Los Angeles bragging rights. The Clippers beat the Lakers on the opening night of the NBA season, but since then, the combination of LeBron James and Anthony Davis has been almost unbeatable, as the Lakers have skyrocketed to the top of the Western Conference standings. For fans who haven’t seen the duo play together this season, Christmas Day is the ideal time to check them out, as they’ll surely get a tough challenge from the Clippers. They haven’t quite hit the ground running after adding Kawhi Leonard and Paul George over the summer. However, George recently returned after missing the early part of the season due to injury while Leonard has also missed a few games with a minor injury. By Christmas Day, both Leonard and George should be healthy and had time to adjust to playing with one another, meaning the Clippers will be ready to give the Lakers their best shot.
Pelicans at Nuggets
The NBA scheduled this game to put the spotlight on first-overall pick Zion Williamson and the new-look Pelicans. Unfortunately, Williamson’s preseason knee surgery has delayed his NBA debut and put his Christmas availability in jeopardy. Naturally, the Pelicans have struggled this season with their top draft pick unavailable. However, barring a setback, Williamson should return before Christmas and join fellow former Duke Blue Devils Brandon Ingram and J.J. Reddick in leading the Pelicans against the Nuggets. Denver has quietly been one of the better teams in the Western Conference this season, making them a worthy participant in the NBA’s amazing Christmas Day schedule.