NBA Christmas Day Preview: All the Big Games and Stars in Action on Christmas

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The holiday season is here and that means it’s time for Christmas Day basketball. This year, a number of big-name players and high-profile teams will be in action, including LeBron James and the Lakers, Kevin Durant and the Warriors, Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks, and James Harden and the Rockets.

The NBA will be playing on Christmas Day for the 71st time, making it one of the oldest sports traditions in American sports. All of the games will be nationally televised on ESPN/ABC, with the action starting up at 12 p.m. ET with the Milwaukee Bucks taking on the New York Knicks.

Here’s a look at the full NBA Christmas schedule:

  • Milwaukee Bucks vs. New York Knicks (12 p.m. ET, ESPN)
  • Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Houston Rockets (3 p.m. ET, ABC)
  • Philadelphia 76ers vs. Boston Celtics (5:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
  • Los Angeles Lakers vs. Golden State Warriors (8 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN)
  • Portland Trail Blazers vs. Utah Jazz (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)
LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers hangs onto the rim after a turnover at AT&T Center on October 27 , 2018 in San Antonio, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that , by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Cortes/Getty Images)
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Here’s a preview of the NBA Christmas games, with stats and info courtesy of the NBA:

Milwaukee Bucks vs. New York Knicks – (12 p.m. ET, ESPN): Giannis Antetokounmpo makes his Christmas Day debut as the Bucks play on Christmas for the first time since 1977.

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Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Houston Rockets – (3 p.m. ET, ABC): Reigning NBA MVP James Harden of the Rockets and 2016-17 winner Russell Westbrook of the Thunder go head-to-head for the first time this season. (Westbrook missed the first matchup between the teams.)

Philadelphia 76ers vs. Boston Celtics – (5:30 p.m. ET, ABC): The 76ers and Celtics renew their storied rivalry and meet for the first time since the Celtics defeated the 76ers on opening night.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Golden State Warriors – (8 p.m. ET, ABC/ESPN): LeBron James faces the Warriors as a Laker for the first time in the regular season. LeBron is set to play his 13th Christmas game, which will tie him for second place all-time behind Kobe Bryant (16).

NBA
NBA

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Utah Jazz – (10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN): The Jazz play on Christmas for the first time since 1997. The visit to Salt Lake City is something of a homecoming for Portland’s Damian Lillard, who starred collegiately at nearby Weber State.

Go behind the numbers on Christmas Day with these stats and fun nuggets of information from the NBA:

395 – Kobe Bryant is the all-time Christmas Day scoring leader with 395 points, followed by Oscar Robertson (377 points) and James (321 points).

250 – The teams playing on Christmas Day have brightened the holidays for hundreds of youth and families this year through more than 250 heartwarming and impactful NBA Cares Season of Giving events such as turkey drives, dinners and meal service, holiday parties and shopping sprees.

90 – On Dec. 24, The Jump will broadcast a 90-minute Christmas Day preview special beginning at 2 p.m. ET on ESPN.

53 – The Knicks will play on Christmas Day for an NBA-high 53rd time.

50 – Three players have scored 50 or more points in a game on Christmas Day: Bernard King (60 points in 1984), Wilt Chamberlain (59 points in 1961) and Rick Barry (50 points in 1966).

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38 – Thirty-eight players from outside the United States representing 20 countries are on the rosters of teams playing on Christmas Day, led by the Jazz with six international players.

20 – The Lakers will play on Christmas Day for the 20th consecutive year.

14 – Fourteen 2018 NBA All-Stars are currently expected to play on Christmas Day.  NBA All-Star Voting 2019 presented by Google will launch on Dec. 25 at 11 a.m. ET.

13 – James will play his 13th Christmas Day game, which will tie him for the second-most appearances in NBA history.  Bryant holds the record with 16.

5 – The last five players to be named NBA MVP will take the court on Christmas Day: Harden, Westbrook, Golden State’s Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, and James.

2 – ESPN Radio will broadcast two Christmas Day games: 76ers vs. Celtics and Lakers vs. Warriors.

1 – Two-time All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee and three-time All-Star Damian Lillard of Portland are among the players who will appear in a Christmas Day game for the first time. 

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