OKC at NYK Game Preview – An Honor to Play on Christmas Day

NEW YORK – The 82-game NBA schedule can be both a grind and a whirlwind, so when the Thunder gets a chance to step back and realize how precious each game is, it feels both humbled and excited.

After a challenging back-to-back against the division leading San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors, the Thunder has two full days before its next game – a Christmas Day showdown in Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks. Wednesday’s tilt marks the fourth straight season that the Thunder played on Christmas Day, as Head Coach Scott Brooks’ club has registered wins over the Denver Nuggets and Orlando Magic while falling last year to the Miami Heat.

Young Thunder players like Reggie Jackson, Perry Jones, Jeremy Lamb and Steven Adams haven’t had a chance to play much on Christmas Day before, so Wednesday’s game will be a special opportunity.

“It’s another game, and we’re fortunate to play on Christmas,” Jackson said. “If you play on Christmas, you’re expected to be one of those upper-echelon teams. We’re going to enjoy it, embrace it and have fun with it.”

Even for veterans like Kendrick Perkins, the chance to play on Christmas Day is a marker of how they and the Thunder organization has made an impact on the NBA landscape. As one of the top teams record-wise in the league, the Thunder’s own internal expectations are to be a contender, but receiving the honor of being slated in a national TV game in the afternoon on Christmas is special, and something that players of all ages and backgrounds view as a privilege.

“When you’re one of the teams that is playing on Christmas Day,” Perkins said. “You don’t take it for granted. Every opportunity that you can play on a holiday, especially Christmas, you take advantage of it.”

In the Notes:

- The Thunder went 1-1 against the Knicks last season, and overall is 6-3 against New York.

- The Thunder is 2-1 all time on Christmas Day, with wins in 2010 and 2011 against the Denver Nuggets and Orlando Magic.

- Thunder forward Serge Ibaka is averaging career highs in points (14.0) and rebounds (9.3) this season.

Broadcast Info:

1:30 p.m. CT. TV – ABC, Radio – 98.1 FM The Sports Animal, Thunder Radio Network