The Christmas gifts the NBA has in store are always worth knowing ahead of time for anticipation alone.
The NBA is giving us some serious gifts for Christmas this year 🎄
Lakers vs. Clippers
Rockets vs. Warriors
Bucks vs. Sixers
New Orleans vs. Denver
Boston vs. Toronto
per @wojespn. pic.twitter.com/bp3ofEbngx
— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) August 2, 2019
The lineup features the sport’s biggest names, unsurprisingly, with some playoff rematches, a heated city battle and a generational talent in his rookie year.
Shams Charania of The Athletic reported the dates for superstars returning to their former teams.
Sources: Notable superstar return games on 2019-20 NBA schedule:
Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard at Toronto: Dec. 11
Lakers‘ Anthony Davis at New Orleans: Nov. 27
Nets‘ Kyrie Irving at Boston: Nov. 27
Rockets’ Russell Westbrook at Oklahoma City: Jan. 9.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) August 2, 2019
The quick early look at your 2019 Christmas Day.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Los Angeles Clippers
The battle of L.A. got a lot more interesting this free agency period. The Lakers’ season-long dysfunction was momentarily forgotten when former New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis finally got his trade to the LeBron James-led team.
Fellow star Kawhi Leonard is fresh off a trophy with the Toronto Raptors and signed with the Clippers once they pulled off a blockbuster trade for Paul George.
“It’s a great chance and opportunity for us to start anew, you know, a legacy here in L.A.,” George told Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes. “The Clippers haven’t been to the Promised Land yet and that’s something that we can bring to a different part of L.A. I think that’s attractive.”
Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors
The Warriors are in new digs in San Francisco this year with a new look, from a slight change to the logo to a Kevin Durant-less squad. They’ll also be without Klay Thompson for likely the first half of the season, including the Christmas Day game, after surgery for his torn ACL.
The Rockets bulked up for another run at the Western Conference title by adding 2017 MVP Russell Westbrook in a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Rockets struggled to overcome the Warriors in the playoffs in previous years and are without a conference championship since 1995.
Milwaukee Bucks at Philadelphia 76ers
Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo will get another shot at dominating Christmas after his double-double in 2018. He had 30 points, 14 rebounds, four steals, three assists and two blocks in a win over the New York Knicks. It was the Bucks’ first appearance on Christmas Day in 41 years.
Antetokounmpo dropped 52 with 16 rebounds against the 76ers last March on St. Patrick’s Day while Joel Embiid had 40 and 15, respectively, in the Philadelphia victory. It was the first time in 25 seasons opposing players each had at least 40 points and 15 rebounds.
New Orleans Pelicans at Denver Nuggets
No. 1 overall selection Zion Williamson will make his Christmas Day NBA debut in his rookie season. Judging by the TV viewership numbers Duke garnered during the NCAA tournament, this game is likely to be one of the most-watched of the day.
Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors
There was no wedding between the Celtics and Kyrie Irving after all, with Irving jumping to the Brooklyn Nets alongside Durant. The Celtics added point guard Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter.
The reigning champion Raptors will play only their second Christmas Day game in history. The first was in 2001 and only the Charlotte Hornets and Memphis Grizzlies have fewer with zero each.
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