In case you haven’t yet realized, “NBA” actually stands for “No Breaks Allowed” because this league never takes a day off. Not one.
On Tuesday, the Association released the national television schedule for its opening week and Christmas Day games, and, boy, are there some spicy matchups lined up.
The defending champion Bucks will start their quest to repeat by hosting the Nets on Tuesday, Oct. 19, in what will be a thrilling first game. The two teams went toe-to-toe in a seven-game series during the second round of the 2021 playoffs (just ask Kevin Durant). James Harden is going to have a great view of Giannis Antetokounmpo getting a championship ring before him.
Following that east coast showdown is a battle between the Bay and L.A. as the revamped Lakers welcome Stephen Curry and the Warriors to Hollywood. The Dubs won’t have shooting guard Klay Thompson to start the season as he rehabs a torn Achilles, but lottery-pick rookies Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody will be fun to watch alongside the two-time MVP while Los Angeles native Russell Westbrook makes his Lakers debut at Staples Center.
The Suns and Nuggets will face off in a postseason rematch on Wednesday, Oct. 20. However, Denver center Nikola Jokic will be the first reigning MVP to not play on Christmas since the NBA went to a five-game Dec. 25 slate in 2008, per Statmuse. The following day, Luka Doncic and the Mavericks will head to the “A” to battle Trae Young and Hawks.
Here’s the complete Christmas Day schedule:
It includes plenty of gifts starting with a first-round playoff rematch between the Hawks and the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, which will be rocking with a new-look group that added Bronx native Kemba Walker. Jayson Tatum and the Celtics take on the Bucks on the road, while a Warriors-Suns showdown sets the stage for a duel between two of the league’s best point guards, Curry and Chris Paul.
But the primetime present that Saturday night comes at 8 p.m. ET when the Nets clash with the Lakers in a potential NBA Finals preview. That game in L.A. will have the following players on the court at the same time: LeBron James, Durant, Anthony Davis, Harden, Westbrook and Kyrie Irving. That’s a total of seven MVP awards and eight NBA titles among those six players. Did someone ask Santa for a superstar showdown?
It’s a bit strange, though, that the Jazz are playing in the nightcap against the Mavericks when they’ve had limited success in recent years. Perhaps Jokic’s Nuggets or the Clippers are more deserving of that spot.
NBA hoops on Christmas Day are a tradition like no other, and this year’s games will be as exhilarating as ever. The full 82-game schedule will be released on Friday.