Once again, we’re here at one of the most anticipated dates on the NBA calendar.. Christmas Day basketball.
Since 1947, when the New York Knicks beat the Providence Steam Rollers at Madison Square Garden, NBA basketball on Christmas Day has become a tradition. Only five games set and the league makes sure to give its worldwide fanbase storylines, tasty matchups and superstars.
For this year’s slate, the NBA has set up a rematch of two of the best series from last season’s playoffs. Here’s whats on offer
Los Angeles Lakers vs Dallas Mavericks
All you need to know about this matchup is that its superstars always come to play. It’s the old guard LeBron James against the new school, Luka Dončić.
The duo have so far faced each other eight times in the NBA, including a Christmas Day matchup in 2020 with James winning the matchup 6-2. Statistically, he has also fared better than Luka has in their 8 games.
With Anthony Davis out and the Mavericks underperforming so far this season, this superstar matchup is the big draw for this game and from what we’ve seen from them so far, that might be enough to make for a worthy Christmas Day game.
Philadelphia 76ers vs New York Knicks
No team has played more games on Christmas Day than the New York Knicks with their 23-31 record. They’re currently one win shy of the Lakers holiday record.
For Sixers MVP candidate Joel Embiid, this is his fourth game on Christmas. In his first three games, he’s averaging 30 points per game which ranks seventh all-time for holiday scorers.
The last time both teams met, the Knicks won by a narrow 106-104 scoreline despite Sixers stars, Embiid and James Harden missing out. In what could be a possible playoff matchup, this game could make for a spicy and exciting battle between two teams trying to prove themselves as realistic contenders in the Eastern Conference.
Pheonix Suns vs Denver Nuggets
This time last season, the Suns were at the top of the Western conference and looking like legitimate title contenders, now, they face a Nuggets side who currently sit atop the conference and also have the two-time reigning MVP, Nikola Jokic on their side.
However, the signs point in favour of the Suns as they enter Sunday’s game having won six of their last seven meetings against Denver. The Suns also swept the Nuggets in the 2021 Western Conference semifinals, however the Nuggets were without Jamal Murray in that series.
With the West wide open, both teams would be looking to put their names in the hat as legitimate contenders in the conference.
Memphis Grizzlies vs Golden State Warriors
It took the Warriors six games to get past the Grizzlies in last season’s Western Conference semifinals enroute to winning the championship. The young Grizzlies team were vocal immediately, looking forward to a rematch with superstar guard Ja Morant, even posting on social media that a Christmas Day matchup was needed. The 23-year-old has now gotten exactly what he wanted.
The Grizzlies would be making their Christmas Day debut against a Warriors team without Finals MVP, Steph Curry who’s currently injured. However, the Warriors have been a staple of the NBA on Christmas Day for the past decade as Sunday will be the 10th consecutive year and the 12th time in the last 13 seasons that Golden State has played on the holiday.
The Warriors have lost 3 of the 4 games they’ve played since Curry got injured and would need anybody not named Steph Curry to step up if they stand any chance against a team hunting for blood.
Milwaukee Bucks vs Boston Celtics
The two best teams in the East go head to head in a rematch from last season’s fiesta second round matchup. It took the Celtics seven games to get past a Milwuakee team that was missing the Robin to Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s Batman in Khris Middleton. Now Middleton is back and Giannis is once again playing like the best player in the world on both ends of the court.
For most of the season, the Celtics have led the East but their dip in form over the last month had seen them overtaken by the Bucks.
Both teams met on Christmas Day last season as the Bucks came back from a 19-point deficit to win 117-113 behind 36 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists from Giannis. The Celtics two J’s, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown dropped 25 points each but it wasn’t enough.
Tatum (30.5) and Brown (26.5) are currently the highest scoring duo in the league with a combined average of 57 points per game while Giannis is averaging 31.4 points per game on 54% shooting.
You would not be wrong in regarding this game as a preview for this year’s Eastern Conference finals. Two titans set to square off in what looks like the best game of the day.