NBA Christmas Day Preview

NBA Christmas Day slate led by Giannis and the Bucks

Festivity is in the air, here, there, and everywhere. Ten teams plan to make the nets jingle on Christmas Day. Watch out for LeBron James, Luka Doncic, and Nikola Jokic pulling up for a trey. Without further ado, let’s get this preview underway. NBA Christmas is all about putting the best decorations out on the tree, and giving the fans what they all want to see.

Eight of the ten teams will be a top ten seed in their conference. Some of the games will be playoff sneak peeks, with some heated rivalries sandwiched in between.

Tune in to either ABC or ESPN. They’re hosting all the action.

NBA Christmas Day Preview

76ers at Knicks:

As is tradition, the Knicks will host a Christmas Day game for the 74th time. The only time they haven’t played on Christmas was in 1998 due to the lockout. They’re surging as of late, winning eight of their last nine games. The 76ers will look to shut down the Knicks’ offense with their newfound elite defense: they have the league’s second-best defensive efficiency at 107.9.

Last Christmas the Knicks were struggling to balance offensive-minded acquisitions Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier. With those defensive liabilities gone and the Julius RandleJalen BrunsonRJ Barrett sleigh flying in the sky, they impose a true test to Joel Embiid and the 76ers.

Pay attention to how Embiid and James Harden go about attacking that stout defense. Youngster Quentin Grimes will look to stay hot for the Knicks and display his ball-stopping talents for all to see.


Philadelphia: Tyrese Maxey (foot) – out.

New York: Obi Toppin (knee) – out.

Philadelphia is a 1.5 point favorite with an over/under of 218.5.

Lakers at Mavericks

If you’re into the whole “passing of the torch” theme, this is the game for you. Luka has been marked as the next thing after LeBron James. James has averaged 32.4 points, 7.2 rebounds, 7.6 assists, 1.0 steal, and 0.8 blocks per game over his last five games. Now might not be the best time for the announcers to bring make LeBron-Luka stat comparisons, at least not for LeBron.

These two will clash in pace of play. The Lakers are ranked the second (quickest) team at 102.91 possessions per game. The Mavericks are on the opposite side of the rankings, sitting at a low 96.22 possessions per game (29th).

Despite LeBron, Russell Westbrookand Anthony Davis all being on the injury report just a few days before the open tip, only Davis is going to miss this game.


Los Angeles: Anthony Davis (foot) – out, Juan Toscano-Anderson (ankle) – out.

Dallas: Maxi Kleber (hamstring) – out, Josh Green (elbow) – out, Dorian Finney-Smith (hip) – out.

Dallas is a 7.5 point favorite with an over/under of 226.5.

Bucks at Celtics

Now we’re talking. This is the must-watch content. Forget about your Elf plans, or your Home Alone watch party… sit down and enjoy these two eastern juggernauts go at it.

This rivalry has been brewing for years now, starting back in the 2018 playoffs. The kids are all grown up now, with Jayson Tatum and Giannis Antetokounmpo both looking like MVP candidates.

Both teams are in the top seven in defensive efficiency. They also both have stud rim protectors in Brook Lopez and Robert Williams. Secondary stars Jrue Holiday, Khris Middleton, and Jaylen Brown are more like primary stars with otherworldly talents on their teams. Unlike the Lakers-Mavericks game, this one’s got more than just big names.


Milwaukee: Khris Middleton (knee) – questionable.

Boston: Danilo Gallinari (ACL tear) – out for season.

Boston is a 4.5 point favorite with an over/under of 224.5.

Grizzlies at Warriors

Even if you don’t watch the NBA regularly, you probably know about the burgeoning rivalry between these teams. Here’s a refresher.

The Grizzlies have plenty to be cheerful about this holiday season. They’re hot out of the gate with a 19-11 record sitting atop the west with Denver. Without picking sides, here’s an analogy: They’re Whoville, singing and dancing and loving life. Golden State is watching from afar: They’re befuddled and going 15-18 into this game. 3-7 in their last ten games, they have the 11th seed and are out of the play-in right now.

To make matters worse for the Warriors, they’ve been hit with injuries… that hurts. Memphis shouldn’t hold back.

Watch out for Ja Morant‘s dunk package, Desmond Bane to make it rain, and Jordan Poole to take defenders to school.


Memphis: Danny Green (ACL injury) – yet to play this season.

Golden State: Andrew Wiggins (groin) – questionable, Stephen Curry (shoulder) – out, Andre Iguodala (hip) – out.

Memphis is a 4.5 point favorite with an over/under of 228.5.

Suns at Nuggets

This is some more must-watch television. The Nuggets are tied for the one seed in the west, with the Suns currently fourth.

The Suns are tenth in defensive efficiency (111.5), so they will be a tricky test for the tactful yet thrilling Nikola Jokic. MVP voting can be biased and unfair, but Jokic is a legitimate contender for the third year in a row. Should he win, he’d be the first to go back to back to back since Larry Bird in 1984-86. He’d join Bird, Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain, Bill “the Hill” Russell as the only players to do so. It’s rare.

Both teams can score, as both are in the top 3 in offensive efficiency. The Suns are the most efficient offense in the entire league, with 116.6 points per 100 possession. The Nuggets aren’t far behind. They score 115.8 points per 100, good for third in the league.

Chris Paul will try to lead his team to victory, while Michael Porter Jr and Jamal Murray will continue down their path to full recovery after sustaining serious injuries the prior years.


Phoenix: Cameron Johnson (knee) – out, Devin Booker (groin) – questionable, Cameron Payne (foot) out.

Denver: Collin Gillespie (lower leg) – out.

Denver is a 3.5 point favorite with an over/under of 230.5.