While the NBA stays away from Thanksgiving, Christmas Day has been an important day for the league over the years. That’s once again the case this year, with the NBA having five games on tap for Sunday. All five games will be shown nationally on the ESPN family of networks, with three airing on ESPN and two airing on ABC. All times are Eastern.
Celtics at Knicks, Noon (ESPN)
Warriors at Cavaliers, 2:30 p.m. (ABC)
Bulls at Spurs, 5:00 p.m. (ABC)
Timberwolves at Thunder, 8:00 p.m. (ESPN)
Clippers at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (ESPN)
The most highly anticipated game on the NBA’s Christmas Day schedule is Golden State’s trip to Cleveland in a matchup of the teams that have met in each of the last two NBA Finals. The Warriors came out on top in 2015, beating the Cavaliers in six games, with Cleveland returning the favor this past summer by erasing a 3-1 deficit to win the series in seven games.
Since then the Warriors added forward Kevin Durant via free agency, and they’re currently an NBA-best 27-4. Cleveland, which is 22-6 on the season, is short a starter as guard J.R. Smith recently underwent surgery for a broken thumb. He’s expected to miss anywhere from 12 to 14 weeks, and with Smith out of the lineup the Cavs have moved DeAndre Liggins into the starting lineup.
Two of the NBA’s flagship franchises, the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks, meet in the first game of the day at Madison Square Garden. San Antonio hosts Chicago in the second half of ABC’s double header, with Pau Gasol (Spurs) taking on his former team. Following that game Russell Westbrook, who has 14 triple-doubles this season, leads Oklahoma City against the young Minnesota Timberwolves. The battle of Los Angeles closes out the day, with the Lakers serving as the home team against the Clippers.