The vacation tradition of NBA basketball on Christmas Day returns for the 76th time, and for the 16th consecutive season, a full five-game slate of games will maintain the hoops action rolling from morning till night.
If watching NBA superstars is in your Christmas want listing, then this year’s lineup of matchups will deliver.
Seven of the 9 players that have been named Kia MVP over the previous 15 seasons shall be in action on Christmas Day:
- Lakers’ LeBron James (2009, ’10, ’12’, ’13)
- Suns’ Kevin Durant (’14)
- Warriors’ Stephen Curry (’15, ’16)
- 76ers’ James Harden (’18) and Joel Embiid (’23)
- Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo (’19, ’20)
- Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic (’21, ’22)
The defending Eastern Conference-champion Miami Heat lead five groups from their conference into Christmas Day, including the three teams they had to beat on their way to the NBA Finals: Milwaukee, New York and Boston. The previous four groups to win the NBA title — the Lakers (2020), Bucks (2021), Warriors (2022) and Nuggets (2023) — play on Christmas, with the previous two champions meeting in the nightcap.
Dec. 25: Bucks vs. Knicks (Noon ET, ESPN)
The Knicks will prolong their report for Christmas Day appearances (56) and look to tie the document for most Christmas Day wins (24) when they host the Bucks, who swept them last season. Milwaukee has wwon six straight head-to-head conferences.
A potential meeting in the 2023 Eastern Conference semifinals was thwarted after Milwaukee was upset by Miami within the first spherical. New York made the East semis after it ousted the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first spherical behind the stellar play of Jalen Brunson.
Dec. 25: Warriors vs. Nuggets (2:30 ET, ABC & ESPN)
Christmas night is capped off with a matchup of the past two NBA champions: the 2022 Warriors beat the Nuggets in the opening spherical on their approach to their fourth title of this dynasty, with two-time Kia MVP Curry adding his first Finals MVP to his resume.
Last season, the Warriors had been eliminated before a possible showdown with Denver in the convention finals because the Nuggets reached the Finals and won their first NBA title in franchise history with one other two-time Kia MVP earning his first Finals MVP in Jokic.
Dec. 25: Celtics vs. Lakers (5 ET, ABC & ESPN)
The most storied rivalry in NBA history provides another chapter to its rich historical past as James, Anthony Davis and the Lakes tackle Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and the Celtics. Both groups enter the season with their eyes set on being the first group to succeed in 18 NBA championships.
Last season, each contests between the Celtics and Lakers went to additional time, with Boston prevailing by four points each recreation. Overall, Boston leads the all-time common season series 165-133 and is 43-31 vs. the Lakers within the playoffs, too.
Dec. 25: 76ers vs. Heat (8 ET, ESPN)
This showdown ought to pit Embiid (the reigning Kia MVP and two-time scoring champ) in opposition to the defending Eastern Conference champion Heat, led by former Sixers star Jimmy Butler.
The Heat won the 2022-23 season sequence, 2-1, with every team recording a 20-plus point blowout win. Miami, however, obtained win No. 2 in the series off an unbelievable acrobatic reverse layup by Butler with 90 seconds to play.
Dec. 25: Mavericks vs. Suns (10:30 ET, ESPN)
The first time Durant and Kyrie Irving met as opponents after their three-plus seasons as teammates delivered a basic additional time matchup between the Mavericks and Suns. In that sport, four players scored 30 or more (Durant had 37 and Devin Booker had 36 for Phoenix; Luka Doncic had 34 and Irving 30 for Dallas) within the Suns’ 130-126 win.
That sport left NBA followers clamoring for a playoff matchup that never materialized, however as a consolation, we get a rematch for Christmas.