The NFL may own Thanksgiving, but Christmas Day has become the NBA’s holiday. Basketball fans have a full slate of viewing options as you unwrap your Christmas presents. The Bucks-Knicks tip things off at noon Eastern on ESPN and is the first of five NBA matchups on the Christmas Day schedule.
The Lakers-Warriors is the primetime matchup of the day as Kevin Durant and the defending champions take on LeBron James. The Celtics host the Sixers in a matchup featuring two of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.
Christmas Day is rarely an off day for James as the NBA regularly schedules King James to work on Christmas. While James was a member of the Cavs, he admitted to enjoying playing on the holiday at the Staples Center. This year’s game is not in Los Angeles, but James will play a few hours north in Bay Area.
“I’ve had a lot of games that kind of stood out … playing in the Staples Center is always a treat,” James explained to Cleveland.com. “I’ve never had an opportunity to play in the Garden, but playing in the Staples Center, I’ve been there quite a few times. So, it’s kind of always fun to be in L.A. and play in front of that crowd and have that atmosphere. I’ve only had probably four games at home out of the 12 … but being in the Staples Center has always been pretty good.”
It’s Early, But NBA TV Ratings Are Down
For many fans, Christmas Day feels like the unofficial beginning of the NBA season, even though the season started in October. While it is still early, the NBA TV ratings are down per a Sports Business Journal November report.
NBA viewership is down 26% on TNT and 6% on ESPN one month into the season. Much of the sharp decline can be attributed to LeBron James’ move to the Western Conference, which has hit viewership for the early-window primetime NBA telecasts particularly hard so far. TNT is averaging 1.79 million viewers after 12 game telecasts, the net’s slowest start to a season in at least a decade
It will be interesting to see how the Christmas Day games perform with so many intriguing matchups. Steph Curry expects an electric atmosphere on the holiday.
“We’ve seen him a lot over the last four years,” Curry explained to ABC 30. “It’ll be a fun atmosphere. Played him and his team on Christmas I think the last four years, including this year. It’ll be a fun atmosphere, a fun game [with a] Bay Area and Southern California vibe kind of reignited a little bit so it should be fun.”
NBA Christmas Day Schedule 2018
|DATE||TEAMS||TIME (ET)/TV Channel|
|Tuesday, December 25||Milwaukee Bucks vs. New York Knicks||12 p.m. ESPN|
|Tuesday, December 25||Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Houston Rockets||3 p.m. ABC|
|Tuesday, December 25||Philadelphia 76ers vs. Boston Celtics||5:30 p.m. ABC|
|Tuesday, December 25||Los Angeles Lakers vs. Golden State Warriors||8:00 p.m. ABC/ESPN|
|Tuesday, December 25||Portland Trail Blazers vs. Utah Jazz||10:30 p.m. ESPN|