Baseball has the Fourth of July and the NFL has Thanksgiving Day. The NBA’s holiday of choice is Christmas Day. For decades, the league’s best and brightest have starred on Christmas. The Christmas games are some of the most anticipated and highly viewed games on the regular season schedule, and this year’s slate will likely lead to more of the same.
Unlike the NFL, where the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys play on Thanksgiving every year, the NBA tends to switch things up on a yearly basis. Usually, the first meeting of teams that played in last season’s Finals is reserved for the Christmas spotlight.
There have been some remarkable performances in Christmas Day games over the years. Bernard King of the New York Knicks scored 60 points (still the NBA’s Christmas Day scoring record) in a win over the Nets in 1984.
The Christmas Day games opened the season in 2011 after a short lockout. That year, the Mavericks faced the Heat to open the season, receiving a pretty nice Christmas gift in the form of their championship rings and banner.
Let’s take a look at this year’s games, which will hopefully provide some more interesting and exciting moments.
#5 – Milwaukee Bucks vs. New York Knicks
The first game of the day is, unfortunately, the least interesting of the bunch. It’s nice that the NBA sees Giannis Antetokounmpo as enough of a star to play on Christmas Day, but it would have been great to see the Bucks take on a better opponent.
Sure, the Knicks may have Kristaps Porzingis, but he may not even be healthy enough to play in this game. Christmas is fairly early in the season, and the Knicks won’t want to rush Porzingis back on the floor as he continues to recover from his ACL injury.
If Porzingis can’t go, you’re likely left with the Bucks facing a Knicks team with no real star power. That’s not much of a table setter for what’s supposed to be one of the NBA’s marquee event days. If there’s any silver lining, the Knicks do have a bit of young talent.
If Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson can play like they did in the Summer League early next season, that could drum up some interest in the game. New York is also under new guidance after hiring David Fizdale as their new head coach.
The Knicks traditionally play at Madison Square Garden on Christmas Day, but since they’re no longer one of the NBA’s elite teams, it may be time to spread the wealth elsewhere when it comes to hosting games on Christmas Day.
Next Up: Game 4