The NBA has a bunch of presents for its fans to unwrap Christmas Day. The league will continue its annual “NBA on Christmas” tradition Thursday with a full slate of premium games.
The NBA Christmas games jump off with a matchup between the Washington Wizards and the New York Knicks at noon. The Wizards have been one of this season’s pleasant surprises, currently sitting near the top of the Eastern Conference standings. Washington’s elite backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal will face off against the New York Knicks, who are already in free fall under rookie head coach Derek Fisher. A win from Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony and company would go a long way toward turning the season around.
Next, Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder will take on Tim Duncan and the defending NBA champion San Antonio Spurs. Injuries to Durant and fellow star Russell Westbrook have forced the Thunder to play catch-up this season in the NBA’s ultra-competitive Western Conference. Bolstered by strong play from rising star Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs’ championship core of Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili is once again coasting toward a playoff berth.
LeBron James will lead his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers to Miami for a grudge match against his former team, the Heat. The Cavs have had an up-and-down season thus far as James learns to play with fellow stars Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, but still own a spot near the top of the Eastern Conference. Meanwhile, the Heat have struggled mightily without “King James,” struggling to find an identity amid injuries and subpar play outside of team stars Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Luol Deng.
In prime time, Kobe Bryant will lead the remnants of the once-proud Los Angeles Lakers into battle against Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls. The Lakers hold one of the league’s worst records and have struggled to support Bryant, who has bounced back from a serious leg injury to average 25 points per game so far this season. On the other side, the Bulls’ offseason roster retooling has paid dividends. Free agent acquisition Pau Gasol has stabilized Chicago’s frontcourt while Jimmy Butler has emerged as a strong backcourt complement to Rose.
The NBA on Christmas concludes with a late night matchup between the Golden State Warriors and the Los Angeles Clippers, a rematch of last season's playoff series. Led by sharpshooter Steph Curry and first-year head coach Steve Kerr, the Warriors hold the NBA’s best record and seem poised for a deep playoff run. Blake Griffin and the Clippers have impressed as expected, having received a major boost on offense from guard J.J. Redick.
A full schedule of the NBA’s Christmas games can be viewed below.
NBA Christmas Games 2014: Thursday, Dec. 25
Washington Wizards at New York Knicks, noon EST (CSNB, MSG, ESPN, Watch ESPN)
Oklahoma City Thunder at San Antonio Spurs, 2:30 p.m. EST (ABC)
Cleveland Cavaliers at Miami Heat, 5 p.m. EST (ABC)
Los Angeles Lakers at Chicago Bulls, 8 p.m. EST (TNT)
Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Clippers, 10:30 p.m. EST (TNT)