Christmas Day is kind of a big deal in the NBA.
Year after year, the league puts on a slate of marquee matchups for everyone to enjoy, and the HEAT are no stranger to that.
In fact, Miami has quite the history on the holiday, going 10-2 (.833) on Xmas, which is the best winning percentage in the league (minimum of 10 games).
The HEAT’s last appearance on Christmas Day was in 2015, a 94-88 overtime victory over the Pelicans, the team they’ll be facing this year at noon once again.
So, with Miami back in the fray, it seems like a good time to take a look at the five best Christmas Day games in HEAT history in no particular order.
Dunk Fest – 2013 HEAT at Lakers (Honorable Mention)
Ok, well, I lied. There are going to be six because it felt wrong to leave this one off.
Kobe Bryant missed this game due to a fractured left knee, but the Big 3 didn’t take L.A. lightly at all.
Who could forget these superb alley-oops from Dwyane Wade to LeBron James?
Poetry in motion.
Despite that, the Lakers kept things close throughout, but 65 combined points from Chris Bosh (23, 10 straight at one point in the second quarter), Wade (23, a game-high eight in the fourth) and James (19) proved to be too much to overcome, as the HEAT won 101-95.
Shaq vs Kobe I – 2004 HEAT at Lakers
This one doesn’t really need an introduction.
It was Shaq and Kobe’s first time going up against each other after the duo created a dynasty with the Lakers in the early 2000s.
And they wasted little time to get going, as O’Neal blocked Bryant on the opening possession. Of course, Bryant wasn’t deterred and kept on coming, while O’Neal responded in kind with jams like this:
Even though O’Neal and a young Wade paced Miami in the first half, Eddie Jones and Udonis Haslem also made some big-time contributions.
Bryant kept the Lakers ahead thanks to 13 points in the third, but O’Neal dominated on both ends in the fourth before fouling out. And after Wade missed what would have been the game-winner at the end of regulation, he made amends with four points in overtime, including the bucket that put the HEAT ahead for good.
Wade ended up with a team-high 29 points, a game-high 10 assists, three boards, two steals and a block. O’Neal, on the other hand, amassed 24 points, a team-high 11 boards (tied with UD), three assists and a game-high three blocks.
Making A Statement – 2010 HEAT at Lakers
With this being the first year of the Big 3, the hoopla surrounding the team was unprecedented. After starting off the season 9-8, the HEAT had won 13 of 14 entering this tough matchup against Bryant, Pau Gasol and the defending champs.
From the start, James, Wade and Bosh made a statement and raced out to a double-digit lead early in the second quarter and never looked back.
Wade and Bosh connected on this powerful slam in the first quarter…
…and James knocked down a couple treys in the third to put the finishing touches on a 96-80 blowout victory.
James recorded a triple-double with a game-high 27 points on 8-of-14 shooting, including 5-of-6 from deep, 11 boards, a game-high 10 assists and a game-high four steals. Bosh tallied 24 points on 11-of-17 shooting, a game-high 13 rebounds, two assists, one steal and one block, and Wade totaled 18 points, six assists, five boards, one steal and one block.
Talk about getting it done.
Getting Revenge – 2011 HEAT at Mavs
A little over six months after losing to the Mavs in the 2011 NBA Finals, the HEAT opened the season in Dallas and exacted sweet revenge.
Miami capitalized on turnovers early and often, as it led 62-41 at the break and made plays in transition like this:
The onslaught just continued in the third quarter…
…and the HEAT cruised to a 105-94 victory.
Miami racked up nine steals and six blocks, scored 25 points off 17 Dallas turnovers and held the Mavs to a paltry 37.8 percent shooting.
James led all players with 37 points (the most he’s ever scored on Christmas Day) on 11-of-19 shooting from the field and 15-of-19 from the stripe, 10 boards, a game-high six assists (tied with Wade), two steals and a game-high two blocks. Wade had 26 points, eight rebounds, his aforementioned game-high six assists, one steal and one block, while UD grabbed a game-high 14 boards and scored nine points off the bench.
Another Finals Rematch – 2012 Thunder at HEAT
So…the HEAT were ready for this one.
Thanks to some stout defense early on and a quick start from Mario Chalmers, Miami got out to an early 15-3 advantage and led 27-24 after one.
James kept the pedal to the metal with 13 points in the second quarter, including this monster put-back jam over Serge Ibaka…
…but Kevin Durant answered with 25 points in the second half after missing much of the first half due to foul trouble.
And as things got chippy in the fourth, Miami maintained its composure and executed this perfect play to go up 98-95 with 25.5 seconds remaining…
…and got stops on the other end to seal the deal.
When it was all said and done, James, Wade, Chalmers and Bosh combined for 86 points in a thrilling 103-97 dub.
Wade vs LeBron – 2014 Cavs at HEAT
With Bosh out due to blood clots on one of his lungs, this was one of those old-fashioned duels between D. Wade and LBJ.
Naturally, the two friends went back and forth throughout, but Wade had the upper hand early on with 24 points in the first half.
As a result, Miami led by as many as 17 points, but James and company stormed back to take a brief lead in the fourth.
From there, Chris Andersen, Luol Deng and Danny Granger made some clutch plays to put the Cavs away for good and earn a 101-91 victory.
Wade finished with a game-high 31 points, five boards and five assists. Deng had 25 points on 11-of-16 shooting, a team-high eight rebounds (tied with Andersen) and a game-high eight assists (tied with James).
These are all tough acts to follow, but we’ll see what transpires this time around.