NBA schedule: How each Warriors Christmas Day game of decade ranks
8. 2011 vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Klay Thompson’s NBA debut was one to forget. Chris Paul played his first game as a Clipper, and led LA to a 105-86 win over the Warriors.
The Warriors led at halftime by two points, but the future Splash Brothers combined for just 11 points on 4 of 20 shooting on the night. We say future because they weren’t even the faces of the team at the time: David Lee (21 points) and Monta Ellis (15) were Golden State’s scoring leaders that Christmas.
7. 2018 vs. Lakers
A forgettable Warriors loss ultimately became the high point of an up-and-down Lakers season, as LA handed Golden State a 127-101 defeat in Oracle Arena’s final Christmas game. The Lakers lost James in the third quarter to a strained groin, but ended up outscoring the Dubs by 12 after James checked out.
On a day in which Curry, Thompson and Kevin Durant combined for 41 points on 12 of 37 shooting, the Warriors never led by more than two points. The Christmas send-off Oakland deserved? This wasn’t it.
6. 2014 at Clippers
Steve Kerr got his second taste of the Warriors-Clippers rivalry in his first Christmas game on Golden State’s bench, and it probably tasted a lot like coal. The Clippers beat the Warriors 100-86, and (briefly) reasserted themselves as the dominant rival.
In the first half, it looked like Golden State was on its way to turning the tide in the rivalry. The Warriors were within striking distance headed into the third quarter, but the Clippers pulled away in the fourth. The Warriors got the last laugh, however, as they did not lose to their LA rivals at any point the rest of the season en route to an NBA championship.
5. 2013 vs. Clippers
In Mark Jackson’s last Christmas as Golden State’s coach, the Warriors gifted him his lone win on Dec. 25 with a 105-103 victory. Lee and Thompson co-led the Warriors with 23 points, while Harrison Barnes chipped in 14 off the bench.
You could point to this as the beginning of the Clippers-Warriors rivalry, considering Blake Griffin’s fourth-quarter ejection and that he subsequently called the Dubs “cowardly” afterward. LA and Golden State squared off in the first round of the NBA playoffs that spring, and the ensuing seven-game series made the rivalry very real.
4. 2017 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavaliers no longer had Kyrie Irving for their third of three straight Finals rematches doubling as Christmas entertainment and Curry was absent due to injury, but the game still was worthy of the rivalry. The Warriors won 99-92, pulling away with a 7-0 run in the final minute-and-a-half.
Still, this game will probably be remembered for what came after. The NBA’s last-two-minutes report said officials missed three fouls by Durant on James while Golden State tried to protect its three-point lead. The strange nature of this Cavs iteration -- yes, that was Dwyane Wade scoring 13 points off the bench -- knocks the game down a few notches, but really only because of what came before.
3. 2010 vs. Portland Trail Blazers
Yes, the Monta Ellis Game. The fan favorite scored 39 points, and led Golden State to a 109-102 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. The Warriors trailed by as many as six points with just over five minutes left in the fourth quarter, but closed out the game on an 18-5 run.
This game is also where the narrative of Steph Struggling On Christmas began. Curry scored just four points in his first Dec. 25 game, and the two-time MVP has averaged just 12.3 points per game on Christmas Day. Seven games out of a 694-game career is a very small sample size, let alone one spread out over 10 separate seasons, but Curry hasn’t saved his best for Christmas.
2. 2015 vs. Cavaliers
It will be difficult for the Warriors to play a Christmas game with higher stakes. Golden State hosted Cleveland in an NBA Finals rematch, and entered the day with the Chicago Bulls’ 72-10 record well within reach. The Cavaliers, meanwhile, could have made a statement by handing the Warriors’ their second loss of the season.
The result was a low-scoring classic in an 89-83 Warriors win. Cleveland cut Golden State’s lead to as few as three points in the second half, but the Warriors always had an answer. Draymond Green led the way with 22 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists, and Golden State’s chase of a record that was once thought to be unbreakable truly was on.
1. 2016 at Cavaliers
It also will be difficult for any matchup to match the intrigue of this one. The Cavaliers left a sour taste in the Warriors’ record-setting season with Cleveland’s first NBA title, and Golden State responded by signing Durant in free agency. Durant’s first taste of the rivalry lived up to the hype.
Irving’s 13-foot jumper with three seconds to go clinched the Cavaliers’ 109-108 win over Durant and the Warriors, ending a game that featured 36 points from Durant, 11 ties, five lead changes and two (?!) Richard Jefferson dunks over Golden State players. It proved to be the Cavaliers’ last gasp in the rivalry, as they only beat the Warriors once more in the playoffs and regular season before James left Cleveland.
A last-second shot in a game between two era-defining rivals on the NBA’s marquee regular-season stage? You can’t ask for much more.