Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweets that the NBA has set its Christmas Day schedule for 2020/21.
Woj emphasizes that the currently starry five games scheduled are “tentative.” That’s likely due to the risk of COVID-19 cases preventing certain contests, rather than the league continuing to finalize the schedule.
ESPN reporters Andrew Lopez, Eric Woodyard, Nick Friedell, Dave McMenamin, and Ohm Youngmisuk have weighed in on the five scheduled games.
Here’s the full list of anticipated Christmas Day matchups, per Woj’s reporting:
- New Orleans Pelicans at Miami Heat, 12 p.m. EST
- Golden State Warriors at Milwaukee Bucks, 2:30 p.m. EST
- Brooklyn Nets at Boston Celtics, 5 pm. EST
- Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Lakers, 8 p.m. EST
- Los Angeles Clippers at Denver Nuggets, 10:30 p.m. EST
All four 2020 conference finalists will be present, though none will be facing each other. The champion Lakers, led by LeBron James and Anthony Davis and filled out by a revamped roster of role players, will host the Mavericks, looking to take a leap in the standings after rising superstar Luka Doncic‘s first All-Star season.
The Eastern Conference champion Heat, fronted by Jimmy Butler and newly-extended Bam Adebayo, will host another Western Conference club with a promising rep from the NBA’s next wave of superstars, the Pelicans and second-year forward Zion Williamson.
The Nuggets/Clippers matchup should feature plenty of fireworks, as Los Angeles faced ample scrutiny for letting go of the rope enough for Denver to climb all the way out of a 3-1 deficit to win their second-round matchup during the 2020 playoffs.
The Celtics will square off against the formidable Nets, piloted by a newly healthy Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Reigning two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo, meanwhile, will do battle with Durant’s old club, the Warriors, led by a former two-time MVP of their own in Stephen Curry. Antetokounmpo’s Bucks have recorded league-leading regular season records, only to fall short of the Finals in the playoffs during each of the last two seasons. Milwaukee is no doubt hopeful that its offseason makeover will amend that. The Warriors, meanwhile, saw their championship hopes jeopardized after All-Star shooting guard Klay Thompson incurred an Achilles tear that will sideline him for the entire season.
The Raptors, Rockets and Sixers, three perennial playoff clubs that (currently) have two All-Stars apiece, appear to be the biggest snubs this season, although the fate of Houston’s two All-Stars remains in flux.
Assuming every game happens as scheduled, which December 25 bout are you most excited for in 2020? Are there any teams or matchups you’re disappointed to see (or not see) listed? Let us know what you think in our comments section!