Celtics Have Long History on Christmas Day
BOSTON – Finally, a work-free Christmas. That’s what the Boston Celtics must be thinking this year as they will not play on Christmas Day for the first time since 2007.
The schedule makers actually gave the Celtics a legitimate Christmas break this December. Boston will be off for five straight days from Dec. 23-27. That break is almost as long as the six-day layoff they’ll have during the upcoming All-Star break in February.
Since the Celtics will be watching their televisions rather than playing on them, we thought this would be a great time to dive into the team’s history on Christmas Day. Below are some of the most interesting facts we could find about Boston’s history on Dec. 25.
The First Appearance
The Celtics made their debut on Christmas Day back in 1948, when they played the Philadelphia Warriors at Philadelphia Arena. Boston fell 80-77 to the Warriors thanks in large part to a 30-point performance by Philadelphia forward Joe Fulks. Gene Stump led the C’s in scoring with 20 points that day.
Boston has played on Christmas Day 29 times during its 67-year history. The team is 12-17 in those games. The C’s are actually 12-11 over their last 23 Christmas games after starting out with an 0-6 record. The team’s most recent appearance on Christmas was last year, when they downed the Nets 93-76 in Brooklyn.
Rajon Rondo on Christmas
Rajon Rondo is at the head of this Celtics team when it comes to playing on Christmas Day. The point guard has played in four such games during his eight-year career.
The Celtics are just 2-2 in Rondo’s Christmas games - but that isn’t his fault. He has been phenomenal on the holiday, racking up averages of 18.3 points per game, 6.8 rebounds per game, 9.5 assists per game and 2.8 steals per game. Rondo has also shot well from the field, making 45.3 percent of his shots and two of his four 3-pointers.
Rondo’s premier Christmas Day game arrived in 2011, on the first day of the NBA’s lockout-shortened season, against the Knicks in New York. No. 9 was unstoppable as he piled up 31 points on 11-of-19 shooting to go along with 13 assists, five rebounds and five steals.
Top Scoring Game
Sam Jones was a heck of a scorer for the Celtics during his 12 years with the team. It’s no surprise that he’s the man who has scored the most points for Boston during a Christmas Day game.
Jones dropped in 34 points against the Detroit Pistons on Dec. 25, 1964. That performance helped power the Celtics to a 118-106 win. Ironically, that performance stands as the one and only Christmas game that the Celtics have ever hosted.
No Christmas in Boston?
As we mentioned above, Boston has played host to only one of the Celtics’ 29 Christmas Day games. Their tradition of playing only on the road on Christmas Day stems from Red Auerbach not wanting to subject his staff to working a home game on the holiday.
That being said, for one reason or another, Boston hosted a Christmas Day game was in 1964 against the Detroit Pistons. We’ve already highlighted this contest because Celtics Legend Sam Jones scored 34 points in it, which remains as the franchise’s top scoring effort on Christmas Day. John Havlicek (27 points) and Bill Russell (21 points) also had big games to help the C’s win their only Dec. 25 home game by a count of 118-1106.
Big Three’s Big Game
The original Big Three era lasted more than a decade, but Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish played in only three Christmas Day games together (1980, 1985 and 1991). They went 1-2 in those games, but one of the two losses was a memorable one.
All three members of that Big Three scored 23 points or more during the 1985 game against New York. They combined for 76 points, with McHale leading the way with 29, Parish scoring 24 and Bird contributing 23. However, New York countered with 32 points from Patrick Ewing and 22 from Rory Sparrow to help the Knicks win 113-104 in double-overtime.
An Early Tradition
The Celtics’ inaugural season was in 1946. It didn’t take them long to go all-in on the idea of playing games on Christmas Day.
Beginning in 1948, Boston played on Christmas Day in 12 consecutive years. The team unfortunately began that streak by losing its first six contests before taking home its first Christmas Day win on Dec. 25, 1954. That 108-99 triumph over Milwaukee featured a 35-point performance from Bob Cousy, while Bill Sharman and Ed Macauley dropped in 23 points apiece.
Boston’s streak of 12 consecutive Christmas Day games ended in 1960.