The Detroit Pistons, unsurprisingly, do not play on Christmas Day. But Christmas is one of the biggest days on the NBA season’s calendar. Five games, twice as many superstars and plenty of intrigue.
Chat about the games here whenever you have a chance to sneak away from family and watch some ball. We’ve got all the basics covered.
NBA Christmas Day Schedule
When: Noon EST
Where: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The schedule makers took a gamble on a rebound season from Boston and lucked out by the obligatory slot going to the defending champs, with Toronto being just as dangerous this year even though they lost Kawhi Leonard.
The Celtics and Raptors have the second and third best net ratings in the Eastern Conference. Both teams have dynamic offenses, suffocating defenses and rabid fan bases. What they don’t have is the superstar power to draw in casual eyeballs. But I like watching team games more than superstar dominance.
A good start to the day.
When: 2:30 p.m. EST
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
The Sixers are not the dangerous title contender everyone predicted — at least not yet. While Giannis Antetokounmpo has taken an even larger leap forward than people predicted. He’s shooting 3s now, for crying out loud, which, if he can knock those down consistently then there will be no hope in stopping him.
While this looks like a lopsided game in favor of Milwaukee — the best team in the NBA, it’s worth noting — the Sixers might be able to lock in and use their length to disrupt Giannis. If they can do that then they might just have a fighting chance.
When: 5 p.m. EST
Where: Chase Center, San Francisco, California
If the NBA could have a mulligan on the Christmas Day schedule this is definitely the game they would use it on. Houston is good, but they’re not the most lovable team, and casual fans might bristle at watching James Harden as it plays into plenty of the en vogue anti-NBA stereotypes.
The Warriors, meanwhile, have lost all their star power and are among the worst teams in the NBA. This one will likely be a bloodbath that is over by halftime. Try and tell me Adam Silver isn’t losing sleep over the fact they don’t have Luka Doncic on Christmas Day.
When: 8 p.m. EST
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
As much as they regret the previous game, the NBA is licking its lips over the marqueee matchup in Los Angeles. LeBron James and Anthony Davis have delivered everything advertised and then some in their first season together in LA. The Clippers behind Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, meanwhile, are deeper, better coached and can go toe-to-toe with them. It should be one hell of a game.
New Orleans Hornets vs. Denver Nuggets
When: 10:30 p.m. EST
Where: Pepsi Center, Denver, Colorado
The final game of the night is sort of a dud. No Zion means little to no interest in watching a dreadful Hornets team getting easily outclassed by the effective yet largely anonymous Nuggets. If you’re not all basketball’d out by 10:30 then you might be able to see Nikola Jokic put on quite a show.