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Ranking the NBA’s Christmas Day Games

The NBA Christmas Day games are arguably the most hyped ones in the entire regular season. Whenever the league releases its schedule for the upcoming season, the first day I always look at is Christmas. It’s the one time per season where you get a full day of uninterrupted basketball. So, with that being said, let’s see where each of these games stacks up.

Ranking the NBA’s Christmas Day Games

5. Dallas Mavericks vs Utah Jazz

When I saw this game on the schedule, my first thought was, “Cool, Luka Doncic on Christmas again.” But my second thought was, “Utah? Why?”, and I still stand by that a few days later. Nobody will deny that the Utah Jazz are a good basketball team, at least in the regular season. Do they deserve national TV games? Yes. But Christmas?? If there were no better options, I would be OK with it, but the reigning MVP lost his Christmas spot to Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. I think most people would agree that Nikola Jokic is more box office than either of the Jazz stars.

I also do not quite understand where this matchup comes from. Christmas is usually when the NBA hypes up rivalries or potential playoff matchups but the Dallas Mavericks and Utah Jazz have no history and probably no future. It just seems like they took two random good teams and slapped them together at the end of the day. And just because this is the “least exciting” game, doesn’t mean it is bad. It just looks worse compared to the other four games that we have that day. Mavericks vs Clippers would have made more sense, even without Kawhi Leonard.

4. Atlanta Hawks vs New York Knicks

With no context, the Atlanta Hawks versus the New York Knicks should be the least exciting Christmas Day game. On paper, the Knicks are easily the worst roster playing on Christmas this year (and most other seasons). What gives this matchup a slight edge over the number five ranked game is the 2021 NBA playoffs. Yes, it has only been one playoff series but it’s one more series than the Mavs and Jazz have. Trae Young is already an official New York villain and that alone makes this game worth having. Will the game probably be a blowout Hawks win? Yes. But do we care if it means we get more Ice Trae shushing the garden while crossing up Derrick Rose? No.

3. Boston Celtics vs Milwaukee Bucks

Historical franchise? Check. Reigning champs? Check. Star power? Check. This matchup truly has it all. So why is it not number one? For two reasons. First of all, wait till you see the number one matchup (you probably already know what it is) and tell me that it’s not just a better version of this one. Secondly, this game will probably not be close. I’m old enough to remember last season when all of the Christmas Day games were blowouts.  The Milwaukee Bucks are one of the very best teams in basketball while the Boston Celtics are an above-average team. Could this game be competitive? Maybe but I wouldn’t bet on it, and for that reason, I’m out.

2. Golden State Warriors vs Phoenix Suns

Stephen Curry versus Chris Paul: sign me up! These matchups have always been super fun and this time, the playing field should be a little bit more even than it has been in the past few years now that the Golden State Warriors are not invincible. Klay Thompson‘s status is still up in the air for when he will inevitably return, this matchup is still very exciting. Curry is one of the most fun players to watch in the entire league (if not THE most fun) and the Phoenix Suns were just in the NBA Finals and have a great team of their own. This doesn’t even include JaVale McGee‘s revenge storyline which is probably the best one of the entire day. The only reason this game is not number one is because…

1. Brooklyn Nets vs Los Angeles Lakers

…yeah. I mean was there really another option? This game has a chance to be the highest-rated Christmas Day game since 2004 when Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal faced off for the first time ever. The star power in this Brooklyn Nets vs Los Angeles Lakers game is unbelievable. There are NINE players who have made at least six all-star teams. Blake Griffin, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard, Russell Westbrook, Kyrie Irving, James Harden, Anthony Davis, Kevin Durantand LeBron JamesJust…wow. And the last six of those are still in their prime! So it’s not like we are just watching a retirement home going at it either. These are also the two teams with the best title odds, so the game has extremely high stakes (for a regular-season matchup).

I just can’t find a single flaw with this matchup at all. It has everything you could ever want in a Christmas Day game and more! It has star power, a historical franchise, the two biggest markets in the league, and possibly the two best players in the league (depending on your subjective opinion). The only thing that is technically “missing” is history between the two teams since they have never faced off healthy since they established their cores back in the summer of 2019. But there are still a TON of interwinding storylines for this game. Kyrie vs LeBron, KD vs LeBron, KD vs Russ, Harden vs Russ, Harden vs Dwight, Harden vs Melo. Six different combinations of former teammates and none of these even include AD! I can’t remember the last time I was this hyped for a Christmas Day game. If you’re not excited right now can you really call yourself a basketball fan?

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