NBA Christmas Day TV schedule, games preview

December 24, 2013

Team USA teammates Kevin Durant, left, and Carmelo Anthony will play each other when the the Oklahoma City Thunder and New York Knicks meet on Christmas. (Photo by Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

The NBA traditionally schedules some of the league’s best teams to play on Christmas, highlighting marquee matchups and star players. It remains a goal of some players to play on the holiday – Washington Wizards guards John Wall and Bradley Beal both said recently they hope to play on Christmas Day in the future.

But with injuries to top talent and star-studded teams underperforming, this year’s Christmas slate of games feels rather underwhelming.

According to Sports Illustrated, “the 10 teams that played on Christmas last year entered the holiday with a combined 164-99 (.624) record, while this year’s teams are a combined 160-117 (.578).”

Neither conference leaders, Indiana Pacers in the East and the Portland Trail Blazers in the West, are scheduled to play.

Here’s a look at the five matchups, starting Wednesday at noon:

Teams Location Date/Time (EST) TV
Chicago Bulls (10-16) vs. Brooklyn Nets (9-18) Barclays Center
Brooklyn, N.Y.
Wed., Dec. 25
noon
ESPN

Previous meeting: Have not played each other yet this season. Chicago won in the first round of the 2013 against Brooklyn in seven games.

When the NBA marketing team scheduled this game, it most likely did not expect former league MVP Derrick Rose to be missing from the Bulls after tearing meniscus in his knee. Also unexpected was the slow start by the high-priced, new-look Nets, which is in 12th place in the Eastern Conference standings.

The Bulls have won just three of their past 10 games, but scored a convincing 100-84 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday. Brooklyn acquired aging stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce and put recently retired Jason Kidd at the helm, but has struggled on both sides of the ball, ranking 26th in point differential.

Teams Location Date/Time (EST) TV
Oklahoma City Thunder (22-5) vs. New York Knicks (9-18) Madison Square Garden
New York, N.Y.
Wed., Dec. 25
2:30 p.m.
WJLA (Channel 7)
WMAR (Channel 2)

Previous meeting: None this season.

The matchup features the top two scorers in the NBA this season. Thunder forward Kevin Durant averages 28.1 points per game, while Carmelo Anthony of the Knicks is No. 2 on the list with a 26.3 point average.

Oklahoma City’s nine-game winning streak was snapped Sunday by the Toronto Raptors. While the Thunder has surged, the Knicks have been very inconsistent — alternating wins and losses all year. New York could be without Anthony, who left Monday’s 103-98 win over the Orlando Magic with an ankle sprain.

“The good thing is I am able to walk with a little bit of pain. We will figure it out [Tuesday],” Anthony said (via Associated Press).

Teams Location Date/Time (EST) TV
Miami Heat (21-6) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (13-15) Staples Center
Los Angeles, Calif.
Wed., Dec. 25
5 p.m.
WJLA (Channel 7)
WMAR (Channel 2)

Previous meeting: None this season.

Ah, the Heat and the Lakers, Kobe Bryant vs. LeBron James, what could go wrong? Well, for starters, Bryant won’t be on the court after suffering a fracture in his knee last week. This latest injury is expected to sideline the five-time champion for six weeks.

Adding to the drama was Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni’s recent comments after the team’s 19-point loss to the Golden State Warriors.

“Why would I be discouraged?” D’Antoni said when a reporter suggested fans have become discouraged by the team’s slow start (via ESPN). “We’re fighting with a bunch of good guys that played well before, and they’ll play [well] again. If [the fans] are discouraged, then, you know, find another team to root for. I’m all right. We’re not going to give up. Are you kidding me? Discouraged? That’s not even fair to these guys.”

The Heat meanwhile, continue to show that it is the team that won back-to-back NBA titles. At 21-6, Miami is off to the best start in franchise history.

Teams Location Date/Time (EST) TV
Houston Rockets (18-11) vs. San Antonio Spurs (22-6) AT&T Center
San Antonio, Tex.
Wed., Dec. 25
8 p.m.
ESPN

Previous meeting: Nov. 30 – The Rockets beat the Spurs 112-106 in San Antonio.

The Rockets welcomed back point guard Jeremy Lin in Monday’s 111-104 loss to the Dallas Mavericks but are still waiting to see if scoring leader James Harden can play Wednesday. The all-star guard sprained his ankle on Saturday. Houston is also without Patrick Beverly, who will be sidelined for roughly a month with a broken hand.

San Antonio is off to a quick start once again, led by ageless point guard Tony Parker, who is averaging 18.1 points, 6.2 assists and 2.5 rebounds per game. The Spurs are the second-most efficient team in the league with a 7.8 point differential.

Teams Location Date/Time (EST) TV
Los Angeles Clippers (20-9) vs. Golden State Warriors (16-13) Oracle Arena
Oakland, Calif.
Wed., Dec. 25
10:30 p.m.
ESPN

Previous meeting: Oct. 31 – The Clippers won 126-115 at home.

This game features two of the most dynamic guards in the league, Chris Paul and Stephen Curry, who are No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, on the assists leader board.

After starting the season with a surprising loss to the Lakers, the Clippers, led by former Celtics Coach Doc Rivers are playing like the Western Conference powerhouse they were expected to be.

Curry continues to be the do-it-all guard for the Warriors, leading the team in points (23.9), assists (9.2) and steals (2).

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