Usually we're getting the debut of a new NBA season right around Halloween but that's around when the 2019-20 season ended. So here we are on a different holiday but still getting all the treats. While we still won't be getting any new Christmas unis, something we haven't received since 2016, at least we will have basketball this year which was never guaranteed in the first place. Here is the full Christmas day schedules along with previews of each game. Happy Holidays fuboTV faithful!
NBA Christmas Schedule - Friday, December 25
New Orleans Pelicans at Miami Heat at 12:00 p.m. ET on ESPN
Golden State Warriors at Milwaukee Bucks at 2:30 p.m. on ABC
Brooklyn Nets at Boston Celtics at 5:00 p.m. on ABC
Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Lakers at 8:00 p.m. ET on ABC/ESPN
Los Angeles Clippers at Denver Nuggets at 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
*ABC games may be subject to your area.
New Orleans Pelicans at Miami Heat
The first game on Christmas is between two teams in very different stages of their quest to a championship. Let's start with the best team going into this one. The Miami Heat we're two wins away from an NBA Championship. They looked easily the best team in the East in the bubble playoffs, which surprised everyone except Jimmy Butler. At the beginning of last season, it seemed like a strange move for the forward who stated his most important objective was to win.
Ever since LeBron James went back to Cleveland in 2014 and especially after Dwayne Wade retired in 2019, this team was never really terrible, they were just pretty average never winning more than 50 games in a season. They were 39-43 after the 2018-19 season. On the surface it looked like Butler wanted to be the center of the team again, get paid and get out of dysfunctional relationship in Philly.
But Butler was on to something much more. He recognized that this young core was scrappy and willing to put in the effort, something he just wasn't satisfied with on the 76ers and Timberwolves. Three players really shined supporting Butler including Bam Adebayo, Goran Dragic and 2019 13th-overall draft pick Tyler Herro. Adebayo was an awesome presence on the defensive end securing his first All-Star appearance as well as being voted to the NBA All-Defensive Second Team.
Dragic has been in the NBA since 2008 but he had his best season ten years later making his first All-Star game in 2018 and as a member of and has been an integral in creating offensive opportunities for Miami. Finally, there is Tyler Herro who blew the doors wide open making sure everyone knew his name after having a phenomenal run in his first playoffs. He was the youngest player ever to start a Finals game and he scored double digits in the playoffs 20 consecutive times which is a new record for a rookie. He had rap songs named after him and he is here to stay for quite some time to come.
Butler was phenomenal in those Finals and was on several occasions the best player on the court that included LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Unfortunately both Adebayo and Dragic missed significant amount of time in that series. It's interesting to think that they would have done even better against the Lakers in which they were heavy underdogs. The good news for the Heat this season is that Adebayo and Dragic are healthy and good to go. They will be significant additions just being in the lineup.
But they really didn't add anyone huge that would change their outlook to get them over the hump. There were talks that they were trying to coax Giannis Antetokounmpo in signing and just this week's trade talks to bring in James Harden from the Rockets had fizzled. The Bucks added Jrue Holiday and kept Giannis so they will still be the favorites in the East. See how much Butler cares.
They face an up-and-coming Pelicans team with the most exciting rookie since LeBron. We didn't get quite the breakout we were expecting though from Zion Williamson and much of that was due to injury. He tore his meniscus in the preseason and didn't debut until last January. He would later be put on restricted minutes.
It wasn't all for not though as he previewed what is to come in his career. He became the first teenager to score 20 points or more in 10 consecutive games. Zion won't be on a minutes restrictions this season and the best is yet to come for this once in a generation talent. He already looked at full strength in their season opener against Toronto in a win on Christmas Eve-Eve. It's a blow to lose Holiday and it was reported that Lonzo Ball won't sign an extension with the Pelican and will become a free agent after this season. It will help though that they acquired veteran presence Steven Adams and Eric Bledsoe. Not to mention they signed veteran coach Stan Van Gundy to develop this young roster. This is just the beginning for the Pelicans even though they have a legitimate chance to make the playoffs this season.
Golden State Warriors at Milwaukee Bucks
Now these two teams had tremendously disappointing seasons last year but for very different reasons. The Warriors lost Kevin Durant to free agency, they lost Klay Thompson the entire year to injury, they lost their best player Stephen Curry most of the year to injury, their best defensive option Draymond Green missed significant time last season and has already been ruled out against the Bucks.
There's little wonder why they drafted second in the 2020 Draft. They still won't have Thompson who is out for another season tearing his achilles last month. They looked absolutely awful in the NBA season-opener against Durant and the Nets losing by 26 points. They need to find their new chemistry and fast, especially to see how Andrew Wiggins fits into this lineup, if they are going to avoid going into a slide to start the season.
The Bucks on the other hand had the best regular season in the NBA and Giannis won his second consecutive MVP award. None of that mattered though as they got smoked by the Heat in the Conference Semis going down 0-3 even with Giannis in the lineup. He is going to need more help and they got that in a legit All-Star and number two in Holiday.
This isn't a Finals or bust kind of season, but it's pretty damn close. They must reach the Eastern Conference Finals or Giannis' days in a small market are numbered even considering he just signed a super-max contract to stay. They didn't start this season well as Giannis missed the game tying free throw against the Boston Celtics who is one of, if not the biggest competition in the East. These two teams have a lot to prove this season to get back to their championship aspirations. Just last year, that would have been unfathomable to even think of.
Brooklyn Nets at Boston Celtics
The Nets and Celtics looked good in their season debuts. The Nets especially, against the the Warriors who looked like a shell of their former selves. They have a long way to go, but the Kyrie & KD matchup looked as good as it was advertised against Golden State. They had 26 and 22 points respectively and got some great help off the bench from Caris LeVert with 20 points. This has to be the formula going forward for Brooklyn. The only thing Durant might have to improve on is his interviews. His interaction with Charles Barkley was already the best highlight of the season so far.
As for Boston, they looked good against supposedly the best team in the East to open their season even though they lost a huge playmaker to Gordon Hayward to Charlotte in the offseason. They're also without their best player Kemba Walker until early January at the earliest and according to coach Brad Stevens he still has a long way to go. This game seems like the Nets to lose.
Dallas Mavericks at Los Angeles Lakers
Luka Doncic is one of LeBron James' favorite players in the NBA. He wanted to sign Luka to a deal with his team at Nike until the NBA phenom eventually signed with Jordan. Doncic has a legit shot at winning the MVP this year and if Kristap Porzingis is healthy this team has a legit duo to go deep in the Western Conference.
As for the reigning champs, it was weird seeing the Lakers picking up their championship rings with no fans in the stands. That's probably the only motivation they need to bring another ring in front of fans next year. They added the pieces to somehow get even better with center Marc Gasol and reigning Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell. The rich get richer.
Los Angeles Clippers at Denver Nuggets
The nightcap is a rematch for the Clippers against to the team they lost to most recently. Losing seems like an understatement. The Nuggets beat the Clippers in the Conference Semis in shocking fashion as they came back from a 3-1 deficit to make it to the Western Conference Finals. Ever since, every pundit has talked about the sky falling for the Clippers and that they're never going to win a championship with their current configuration.
Well Paul George just signed an extension in the offseason and Kawhi Leonard seems to be not too far behind. While they weren't perfect in their opener against the Lakers (looking at you PG-13 passing it out of bounds to the ref) they looked impressive beating the defending champs 116-109 on the night of their rivals ring ceremony.
They will take on the Nuggets who lost to a bad Sacramento Kings team in their opener. They didn't get better in the offseason either. They lost a fabulous contributor in Jerami Grant and backup center Mason Plumlee to the Detroit Pistons. They did resign Paul Millsap to a one-year extension which is important but only gets them back to status quo. They will need more to compete with the still loaded Western Conference.
That's probably going to have to come from Michael Porter Jr. becoming a legitimate third star with Nikola Jokić and Jamal Murray. He did show promise exploding in the bubble but slowed down later in the playoffs. Let's see if he can extend his run and reach the next level. The Nuggets need him desperately.