Christmas Day 2022

Viewer’s guide: What to watch for during NBA on Christmas Day 2022

Like Santa, the NBA always delivers on Christmas. Bundle up for a 5-game slate on ABC and ESPN beginning at noon ET.

2022 NBA Christmas Day

Santa. Rudolph. Frosty. Gifts. Lights. Mistletoe. Eggnog. Gingerbread. NBA Basketball.

Sunday will mark the 75th edition of the NBA on Christmas Day with a five-game slate for the 15th consecutive year, giving fans a full day of nonstop hoops to mix in with their family’s holiday traditions.

Below, we’ll break down each of the five marquee matchups on Christmas Day. And with all five games being broadcast on both ABC and ESPN in the United States for the first time ever, American fans can choose their channel early and ditch the remote for the rest of the day.

76ers vs. Knicks (12 ET, ABC/ESPN)

The Knicks and Sixers have been two of the best teams in the month of December.

No team has played more games on Christmas Day than the New York Knicks as Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia 76ers will mark their 55th appearance in the holiday showcase. The Knicks are 23-31 on Christmas Day, one win shy of the Lakers’ record of 24 on the holiday.

The Sixers are tied for the third-most wins on Christmas Day with a record of 18-14 in their 32 appearances. Sunday’s game marks the 13th time that these two franchises will face each other on Christmas Day, making this rivalry the most common matchup on Dec. 25 in league history.

The Sixers franchise entered the NBA in 1949 as the Syracuse Nationals and played 14 seasons in upstate New York before relocating to Philadelphia in 1963. The Nationals went 3-2 against the Knicks in five Christmas Day matchups, while the 76ers have gone 4-3 in seven matchups as they lead the overall series 7-5.

Keep in mind that most of these Christmas Day games came in the first half of the NBA’s history as Sunday’s game will mark just the second time the Knicks and Sixers have met on the holiday in over 40 years.

Year Matchup/Result (Location)
1953 New York Knicks 89 vs. Syracuse Nationals 80 (Madison Square Garden III)
1954 New York Knicks 109 vs. Syracuse Nationals 101 (Madison Square Garden III)
1957 Syracuse Nationals 134 vs. New York Knicks 130 (OT) (Onondaga War Memorial)
1960 Syracuse Nationals 162 vs. New York Knicks 100 (Onondaga War Memorial)
1962 Syracuse Nationals 123 at New York Knicks 111 (Madison Square Garden III)
1968 New York Knicks 110 vs. Philadelphia 76ers 109 (Madison Square Garden)
1974 Philadelphia 76ers 104 at New York Knicks 97 (Madison Square Garden)
1975 New York Knicks 111 vs. Philadelphia 76ers 103 (Madison Square Garden)
1976 Philadelphia 76ers 105 at New York Knicks 104 (Madison Square Garden)
1977 New York Knicks 113 vs. Philadelphia 76ers 110 (Madison Square Garden)
1978 Philadelphia 76ers 109 at New York Knicks 94 (Madison Square Garden)
2017 Philadelphia 76ers 105 at New York Knicks 98 (Madison Square Garden)

A win for New York on Sunday would pull the Knicks into a tie with the Los Angeles Lakers for the most wins in Christmas Day history with 24. Of course, that tie could last just a mere few hours as the Lakers are featured in Sunday’s second marquee game.

The Knicks enter Christmas weekend as two of the hottest teams in the league.

Sunday’s game will mark the fourth Christmas Day for Joel Embiid and the 10th for teammate James Harden. Embiid’s 30.0 ppg average in his first three Christmas Day games ranks seventh all-time, while Harden’s 244 total points in his first nine Christmas Day games rank eighth all-time. Harden also ranks second in Christmas Day 3-pointers (26) and eighth in assists (68), just one shy of Knicks legend Walt Frazier.

Lakers vs. Mavericks (2:30 ET, ABC/ESPN)

LeBron James’ 17th Christmas Day game will break Kobe Bryant’s record for most Christmas Day appearances.

The connection to the No. 24 runs deep with the Lakers’ franchise and its fans around the world as it is one of the two retired numbers belonging to the late Kobe Bryant, who appeared in 16 Christmas Day games during his legendary 20-year career in purple and gold.

Sunday’s game in Dallas marks the 24th straight year that the Lakers will play on Christmas Day. In addition, Los Angeles enters the matchup with 24 wins (the most by any team on Christmas Day) and 24 losses on the holiday.

LeBron James – who is the career Christmas Day leader in points (422), field goals made (150) and 3-pointers made (28) – will break a tie with Bryant for the most Christmas Day appearances ever as he will play on the holiday for the 17th time in his 20th season in the league. A Lakers win over the Mavericks would see LeBron earn his 11th Christmas Day victory, which would break a tie with former teammate Dwyane Wade for sole possession of first place all-time.

This will be the second Christmas Day meeting in three years between the Lakers and Mavericks, with Los Angeles defeating Dallas 138-115 back in 2020. Both teams enter this year’s game coming off a loss last Christmas: The Lakers fell to the Brooklyn Nets 122-115, while the Mavericks fell to the Utah Jazz 120-116.

In addition to setting the record for Christmas Day games played, LeBron will also increase his record totals in points and field goals made on Sunday. One record that may come into jeopardy is his mark for 3-pointers made with 28 in his Christmas career. Philadelphia’s James Harden enters Sunday trailing LeBron by just two 3-pointers; Harden averages 2.6 treys made per game on the season.

Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook can extend his Christmas Day record in steals – he has 29 in 11 games on Dec. 25 – as he enters Sunday sitting three up on his teammate LeBron, and both average just over one steal per game on the season.

Sunday’s game will be the second Christmas Day game for Luka Doncic, who posted 27 points and seven assists in a loss to the Lakers on Christmas Day 2020. Doncic was inactive for Dallas’ game against Utah last Christmas.

Bucks vs. Celtics (5 ET, ABC/ESPN)


The Bucks and Celtics will meet for the first time since the 2022 playoffs.

Not only is this a matchup of the top two teams in the Eastern Conference – Milwaukee (22-9) enters Christmas weekend with a half-game lead over Boston (22-10) – it is also the first of two rematches from the 2022 NBA Playoffs on the Christmas Day schedule.

On Sunday, the Bucks and Celtics will meet for the first time since Boston eliminated Milwaukee in seven games in last year’s Eastern Conference semifinals. In that series, Jayson Tatum (27.6 ppg) and Jaylen Brown (22.0 ppg) combined to average nearly 50 points per game, while Giannis Antetokounmpo led all players in the series in points (33.9), rebounds (14.7) and assists (7.1).

This season, Tatum (30.6) and Brown (26.2) make up the highest-scoring duo in the league entering Christmas week with a combined average of 56.6 points per game. For the Bucks, Giannis (31.6) and Jrue Holiday (18.8) have combined to average roughly 50 points per game.

Khris Middleton – who missed last season’s playoff series with a knee injury – has played just seven games entering Christmas weekend following offseason wrist surgery. The Bucks already lead the Eastern Conference with Middleton still working his way back to form and will be even more dangerous once he’s back to full strength.

The Bucks and Celtics will meet on Christmas Day for the second year in a row. Last season, the Bucks rallied from a 19-point deficit to beat the Celtics 117-113 behind 36 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and a clutch block from Giannis and 17 apiece from Holiday and Middleton. Tatum and Brown led the Celtics with 25 points apiece, while Marcus Smart added 19.

Boston enters Sunday’s game ranked third all-time in games played on Christmas Day (35) but will host a Christmas Day game for only the fourth time in franchise history. The Celtics are 1-2 at home, 13-17 on the road and 1-1 at neutral sites in games played on Dec. 25.

This will be Milwaukee’s fifth-straight Christmas Day game and ninth overall in their franchise history. The Bucks are 3-2 on the road on Christmas Day and have gone 8-5 on the road so far this season.

Grizzlies vs. Warriors (8 ET, ABC/ESPN)

The Grizzlies only have 3 players with game experience on Christmas Day. Ja Morant will be making his debut.

This is the second of the two playoff rematches on Christmas Day. Golden State and Memphis will meet for the first time since the Warriors defeated the Grizzlies in six games in the Western Conference semifinals en route to winning their fourth title in eight seasons.

The Warriors have been a staple of the NBA on Christmas Day for the past decade as Sunday will be the 10th consecutive year and the 12th time in the last 13 seasons that Golden State has played on the holiday. The Warriors enter this year with a 14-17 record in 31 Christmas Day games.

On the flip side, this will be the first time in team history that the Memphis Grizzlies will play on Christmas Day. Just three players on the Grizzlies’ roster have played on Christmas Day: Steven Adams, Tyus Jones and Danny Green (who is out recovering from an ACL tear). With Memphis ending its Christmas Day drought, the only team yet to play on Christmas Day is the Charlotte Hornets.

When it comes to dishing out the gift of spectacular highlights to NBA fans around the globe, there has not been a player more giving in recent seasons than Ja Morant. Now it is his time to shine bright under the Christmas Day spotlight. And he gets to do so against Golden State after he was limited to just the first three games of last season’s playoff series after suffering a bone bruise in his knee.

In the three games he played, he was phenomenal, averaging 38.3 points, including a 47-point gem in Game 2 as he scored Memphis’ final 15 points of the game, doing so with limited vision after taking a hit to the face going for a rebound in the third quarter.

Unfortunately, the Warriors will be without Stephen Curry, who suffered a shoulder injury last Wednesday that is expected to keep him out for a few weeks.

Suns vs. Nuggets (10:30 ET, ABC/ESPN)


Devin Booker (left) and Nikola Jokic are coming off some recent monster performances.

After the gifts have been exchanged, the meals have been prepared and enjoyed, settle in for the final game of the holiday as the Denver Nuggets host the Phoenix Suns in their first meeting of the season and their first meeting ever on Christmas Day.

The Nuggets (18-11) and Suns (19-12) step into Christmas weekend ranked first and fourth, respectively, in the Western Conference. The Suns enter Sunday’s game having defeated the Nuggets in six of their last seven meetings: sweeping Denver in the 2021 Western Conference semifinals (4-0) and winning last season’s regular season series 2-1.

Phoenix also comes into this matchup with a history of success on Christmas Day. The Suns are 12-7 (.632) in 19 Christmas Day games, as they hold the fifth-highest win percentage on the holiday among all teams.

Denver has just one Christmas Day win in its history, which came in 1994 against the Seattle SuperSonics. Only four players on the current Nuggets roster – Jeff Green, Ish Smith, DeAndre Jordan and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope – were even alive the last time the Nuggets won a game on Christmas Day. Overall, Denver is 1-6 (.143) on the holiday, giving the Nuggets the second-lowest win percentage as they lead only Toronto, which is winless in two Christmas Day games.

Both teams have star players coming off monster games. For the Suns, Devin Booker scored a season-high 58 points in Phoenix’s 118-114 win over New Orleans on Saturday. It was Booker’s third-highest scoring output of his career, trailing only his 70-point game from 2017 and a 59-point performance in 2019. Not to be outdone, the reigning two-time Kia NBA MVP Nikola Jokic turned in a performance that had not been seen since Wilt Chamberlain as he posted a 40-point, 27-rebound, 10-assist triple-double in Denver’s 119-115 win over Charlotte on Sunday.

Could Booker challenge Bernard King’s Christmas Day scoring record of 60 points? Could Jokic become just the ninth player to record a Christmas Day triple-double? Or become the first with a 40-point triple-double since Oscar Robertson in 1961? A little bit of history would be a perfect way to cap off the holiday.