The jerseys change but the song remains the same: the NBA is once again anchoring its annual sack full of basketball presents on the storied rivalry between the Golden State Warriors and whatever team LeBron James is on.
The league’s Christmas Day lineup – traditionally the biggest basketballing day on the calendar outside of the playoffs – has been confirmed by US media this afternoon, with ye olde Santa Claus gifting unto the hoops lovin’ public a white hot clash between the newly-LeBron’d Los Angeles Lakers and Steph Curry‘s band of merry Bay Area men the Golden State Warriors.
This will be the fourth year in a row that LeBron has matched up against the Warriors on Christmas Day; the previous three years James and the Cleveland Cavaliers have tided on-court yule with Curry and co on December 25th, with Golden State coming away with 2 wins to LeBron’s 1.
This year’s game will no doubt prove to be a vastly different matchup given the amount of unknown factors that have come with James’ sensational move to the Western Conference.
But, as we all know, the Christmas Day smorgasboard of boards isn’t limited to just one game. A solid 12-straight hours of basketball is set to be played on the day (Boxing Day here in Australia, but roll with us), kicking off with a clash between Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks against the perennially struggling New York Knicks in Madison Square Garden.
Following that, another repeat Christmas Day matchup occurs between OKC and the Houston Rockets, providing an intriguing return bout between the sides after last year’s ball-tearer which the Thunder walked away with 112 – 107.
In a matchup between two of the Eastern Conference’s heaviest hitters, the Boston Celtics then come up against ya boi Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers in what could wind up being a preview of the Conference Finals
Then, following the Lakers/Warriors matchup, the day wraps up – fairly fittingly – by Jingling all the way over to Salt Lake City where the Utah Jazz meet the Portland Trail Blazers, which is one of those intriguing mid-size market games that could go either way but will almost certainly be dope as hell.
NBA on Christmas Day should be ????
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 8, 2018
Bloody… how about that.
Interestingly enough, this is the Jazz’s first Christmas Day game since 1997 when the Karl Malone and John Stockton-lead Jazz eked out a classic 107 – 104 over Clyde Drexler, Charles Barkley, and the Houston Rockets.
But you have to go back even further for the last Santa Series appearance for Milwaukee; the Bucks haven’t played on Christmas Day since the 1977-78 season, unbelievably.
Following this year, the Atlanta Hawks will have the longest active Christmas Day drought, having last played a December 25th game in 1989. While the Charlotte Hornets and the Memphis Grizzlies are yet to earn a place on the Xmas lineup.
Christmas Day basketball. Truly the gift that keeps on giving.Image: Getty Images / Gregory Shamus