The NBA knows it is going to have to compete with the NFL on Christmas Day this year, and it appears to be bringing the heat.
The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported the five games set to tip-off on Christmas: Bucks-Celtics, Sixers-Knicks, Suns-Nuggets, Lakers-Mavericks and Grizzlies-Warriors.
Charania did not specify the order in which the games would be played.
Two of the games feature playoff rematches for conference winners. The Celtics beat the Bucks in a seven-game, second-round series before reaching their first NBA Finals in 12 years. With Khris Middleton back in the fold, Milwaukee will be looking for some revenge in a battle of Eastern Conference heavyweights. The matchup also serves as a Christmas rematch, with the Bucks beating the C’s 117-113 in 2021.
The defending NBA champion Warriors will also be facing their second-round opponent from last season’s playoffs. Golden State eliminated Ja Morant and Memphis in six games before earning their fourth title in eight years. Now, Morant and Draymond Green get the holiday matchup they desired:
The other three Christmas Day contests also feature a mix of major markets and big stars.
MVP runner-up Joel Embiid and the Sixers will travel to Madison Square Garden to face the Knicks. New York hosted Atlanta last Christmas, while the Sixers will take the court on Dec. 25 for the first time since 2019.
Devin Booker and the Suns will head to the Mile High City to face back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic. Phoenix swept Denver in the 2021 second round, but the team is coming off a confounding Game 7 loss to Dallas in the 2022 playoffs. Denver hosted Christmas Day games in 2019 and 2020 before being left out of the 2021 slate, where Phoenix fell to Golden State.
The fifth 2022 Christmas game will be a LeBron-Luka duel. The Lakers will be away on Christmas after hosting matchups in 2019, 2020 and 2021. By contrast, the Mavs will be home for the holiday after playing road Christmas games in each of the last two years.