NBA on Christmas Day is a great tradition. There are typically 5 games on the schedule, and the NBA usually does a good job scheduling exciting matchups, spotlighting deserving teams and players.
If I were in charge of the NBA schedule, here are the games I would schedule on December 25.
Lakers vs Clippers
This one speaks for itself as it features 3 of the top 5 players in the league. Like New York, NBA always gets the Los Angeles market on Christmas Day and having Lakers and Clippers face each other (something they have done as recently as 2016). Lebron James and Anthony Davis vs Kawhi Leonard and Paul George. Lakers pursued George and Leonard heavily each of the last two off-seasons. Lebron and Kawhi are the only active players (and only 2 of 3 ever) to win NBA Finals MVP with two different teams. Paul George against his former Pacers coach, Frank Vogel. The storylines are endless!
Nets vs Celtics
The NBA no doubt wants to New York market on TV, but this year it should absolutely be the Nets and not the Knicks. And there’s no way these teams should face each other because of how many better teams deserve the spotlight. What better way to roll out the Nets than to have Kyrie Irving face his former team. Christmas Day would also be a deserving spotlight for Kemba Walker. Nets won 42 games and should be even better in 2019, even without Kevin Durant.
Bucks vs Rockets
A rematch of the Eastern Conference Finals between Bucks and 76ers and renewing the Warriors/Rockets rivalry would have both made sense, but there’s a lot of intrigue in a game featuring the 2019 MVP winning Giannis Antetokounmpo and 2018 MVP (and 2019 runner up) James Harden. Both Bucks and Rockets are also likely to finish near the top of their respective conferences.
2019 NBA Finalists – Historically, a Finals rematch makes sense, but with Klay Thompson injured, Durant and Iguodala both gone and Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green gone from the Raptors, that matchup loses a lot of juice and feels unlikely as both teams would be better served facing conference rivals.
Raptors vs 76ers
The other reason why 76ers/Bucks did not work, was that I’m adamant about the Raptors playing on Christmas Day. They have appeared on Christmas Day ONCE (a 2001 loss to the Knicks). Even without Kawhi Leonard, I expect Raptors to compete for a playoff spot and are more than deserving of an appearance and a playoff rematch against the 76ers is the perfect way to give both teams the spotlight.
Warriors vs Blazers
I’m giving the nod to the Blazers over Nuggets and Jazz. And the reason is because this is a rematch of last year’s Western Conference Finals. The Nuggets and Jazz are loaded with talent, but this game puts an appropriate spotlight on Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Without Kevin Durant, Andre Iguodala and without Klay Thompson for the first few months of the season, Warriors are in an interesting spot as they compete for a playoff spot (as opposed to competing for top seed with championship aspirations).
If the NBA wanted to get crazy, they could set up a 6th game and air Nuggets vs Jazz on ESPN and this or Bucks/Rockets on TNT. You can stagger the times so there isn’t a direct overlap. Having two games on at the same time would be new and different for the NBA.