Christmas comes with traditions. Just like the New York Knicks taking part in at Madison Sq. Backyard. Or LeBron James lacing up his sneakers and going to work. And the defending NBA champions moving into the vacation recreation motion.
All these issues are taking place this yr.
And this vacation incorporates a new twist: Memphis, welcome to the Christmas stage.
The NBA’s Christmas quintupleheader is Sunday, with the Grizzlies and Ja Morant set to play on Dec. 25 for the primary time in that franchise’s historical past. They get the distinction of going to Golden State and dealing with the reigning — albeit shorthanded and reeling of late — champions in a rematch from final season’s Western Convention semifinals, gained by the Warriors in six video games.
It’s the fifteenth consecutive yr of 5 video games being performed on Christmas. Some issues to know in regards to the 5 matchups (all occasions Japanese):
PHILADELPHIA AT NEW YORK, Midday
The Knicks are extending their report for Christmas appearances, getting picked to play on the vacation for the fifty fifth time. Of these, 47 have been at residence.
It’s the thirteenth Knicks-76ers recreation on Christmas; no two groups have confronted one another extra on the vacation. And it options two of the NBA’s hottest groups proper now — the Knicks are 8-2 of their final 10 video games, and the 76ers are on a seven-game profitable streak. Joel Embiid is main the NBA in scoring at 33 factors per recreation.
Truth: 76ers coach Doc Rivers performed 4 occasions on Christmas, together with as soon as when he was with the Knicks, and all 4 of these video games have been on the street. Add in his teaching years, and that is the seventeenth time that Rivers has been a part of a Christmas recreation — the fifteenth that will probably be a street recreation.
L.A. LAKERS AT DALLAS, 2:30 p.m.
LeBron James seemingly seems on Christmas as typically as Santa Claus does. If James performs, it’ll be his seventeenth Christmas look, which is able to break a tie with Kobe Bryant for essentially the most in NBA historical past. If he performs and the Lakers win, it’ll be James’ eleventh time strolling off as a Christmas winner — one other report for NBA gamers.
And the Lakers are showing on Christmas for the twenty fourth consecutive yr. They enter with an all-time Dec. 25 report of 24-24, essentially the most wins on the vacation in NBA history, one forward of the Knicks.
It’ll be Mavericks star Luka Doncic’s second Christmas recreation, after he and Dallas misplaced a street recreation to the Lakers in 2020. Mavs coach Jason Kidd performed on the vacation 4 occasions, together with a loss to James and the Miami Warmth in an NBA Finals rematch to open the 2011-12 season.
Truth: The Mavericks will unveil Basketball Corridor of Fame nominee Dirk Nowitzki’s statue at their enviornment a pair hours earlier than the sport.
BUCKS AT CELTICS, 5 p.m.
It’s a double rematch, after Milwaukee beat Boston on Christmas final yr and the Celtics topped the Bucks in seven video games in final season’s Japanese Convention semifinals.
Earlier than Giannis Antetokounmpo got here alongside, the Bucks had performed on Christmas solely 4 occasions of their historical past. They’re now taking part in on the vacation for a fifth consecutive season — although Antetokounmpo appeared to harm his proper hand in a loss Friday evening to the Brooklyn Nets.
The Celtics aren’t precisely rolling into the matchup. They’ve dropped 5 of their final seven video games, after a blistering 21-5 begin to the season — however are coming off a formidable 121-109 win Friday over Minnesota.
Truth: That is Boston’s thirty sixth Christmas recreation, however solely the fourth at residence. The Celtics, for many years, insisted that they didn’t need to make enviornment staff and others be away from their households on the vacation.
GRIZZLIES AT WARRIORS, 8 p.m.
Stephen Curry is injured and gained’t play for Golden State, which is 2-7 in its final 9 video games. This matchup is the opening of an eight-game homestand for the defending champions, who’re 15-18 and proper now on the skin of the Western Convention playoff image.
“Clearly, we’ve received to show issues round,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr stated. “The excellent news is the standings are fairly bunched up within the West. Regardless of our report, we’re not in dire straits. We have to get strong. We have to get some guys wholesome. And we have to begin taking part in higher, clearly, and get some momentum.”
For Morant and the Grizzlies, this was a stage and a matchup they needed. Morant tweeted his pleasure to Warriors ahead Draymond Inexperienced when the NBA introduced the Christmas schedule again in the summertime; Inexperienced responded by inviting Morant and his household over for Christmas dinner.
Truth: Now that Memphis is in a Christmas recreation, Charlotte is the one energetic franchise but to play on the vacation.
SUNS AT NUGGETS, 10:30 p.m.
Denver is searching for its first Christmas win since 1994, and two-time defending NBA MVP Nikola Jokic is taking part in like somebody definitely worthy of a lot consideration to win the award but once more.
The Suns didn’t play on Christmas from 2010 by means of 2020, however are again on the vacation schedule for a second consecutive season. They misplaced to Golden State final yr on Christmas.
Truth: Phoenix is 12-7 on Christmas, the league’s fifth-best report. Denver is 1-6, the league’s second-worst report coming into this yr forward of solely Toronto (0-2).