The NBA and Christmas Day games is a tradition that dates back nearly to the league’s inception in 1946-47. Since 1947, the NBA has been playing Christmas Day games in every season since whenever possible.
This season’s five Christmas Day games include a hearty slate that features all four teams that reached the conference finals in 2020. First, the New Orleans Pelicans take on the Miami Heat (Noon ET, ESPN), followed by the Golden State Warriors vs. the Milwaukee Bucks (2:30 ET, ABC). After that, the Brooklyn Nets visit the Boston Celtics (5 ET, ABC/ESPN Radio) followed by the Dallas Mavericks vs. the Los Angeles Lakers (8 ET, ABC & ESPN/ESPN Radio). Lastly, the LA Clippers vs. Denver Nuggets (10:30 ET, ESPN) will close out the evening.
Below are some notable facts and figures about both this year’s Christmas Day games and some tidbits from Christmas Day games past.
Christmas Day 2020: Notable facts
• The Bucks will host a Christmas Day game for the first time since 1968, their inaugural NBA season.
• The Lakers will play on Christmas Day for the 22nd straight year. They have the most all-time wins on Christmas Day with 23.
• The Mavericks will play on Christmas Day for the first time since 2011. That year, they began defense of their NBA championship against the Miami Heat on Christmas Day.
• The Heat have posted an NBA-best 10-2 record in games played on Christmas Day. Miami has won seven straight games on Christmas Day.
• Three of the 12 players who have won the Kia NBA MVP Award in back-to-back seasons will be in action on Christmas Day: Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks), Stephen Curry (Golden State Warriors) and LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers).
• LeBron James ranks third on the career Christmas Day scoring list with 361 points. He needs to score 17 points to pass Oscar Robertson (377) for second place and 35 points to pass Kobe Bryant (395) for first place.
• The New Orleans Pelicans’ JJ Redick is tied with James Harden for the most 3-pointers made on Christmas Day (23). LeBron James and the Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant have both made 22 3-pointers on Christmas Day.
• Coaches Rick Carlisle (Dallas Mavericks), Steve Kerr (Golden State Warriors), Tyronn Lue (LA Clippers) and Steve Nash (Brooklyn Nets) all played on Christmas Day as NBA players.
• The Brooklyn Nets’ DeAndre Jordan and Kyrie Irving hold the single-game Christmas Day records in blocked shots (eight in 2011) and steals (seven in 2016), respectively.
Christmas Day 2020: 4 quick facts on each game
Pelicans vs. Heat
Pelicans: Last played on Christmas in 2019 (Won 112-100 vs. Nuggets)
Heat: Last played on Christmas in 2015 (Won 94-88 vs. Pelicans)
• The Pelicans’ Brandon Ingram hit a Christmas Day-record and career-high seven 3-pointers vs. Denver last season.
• Heat coach Erik Spoelstra has a 7-0 record in games played on Christmas Day.
Warriors vs. Bucks
Warriors: Last played on Christmas in 2019 (Won 116-104 vs. Rockets)
Bucks: Last played on Christmas in 2019 (Lost 121-109 vs. Sixers)
• Golden State will make its eighth straight Christmas Day appearance and 10th in the last 11 years.
• Milwaukee will play a game on Christmas Day for the third consecutive season.
Nets vs. Celtics
Nets: Last played on Christmas in 2013 (Lost 95-78 vs. Bulls)
Celtics: Last played on Christmas in 2019 (Won 118-102 vs. Raptors)
• Kevin Durant has averaged 30 ppg in nine games on Christmas Day.
• The Celtics have played 33 Christmas Day games, third-most behind the Knicks (53) and Lakers (46).
Mavericks vs. Lakers
Mavericks: Last played on Christmas in 2011 (Lost 105-94 vs. Heat)
Lakers: Last played on Christmas in 2019 (Lost 111-106 vs. Clippers)
• Dallas is 2-0 on the road on Christmas Day, with victories at Sacramento (2003) and Portland (2008).
• LeBron James has won nine games on Christmas Day, one behind Dwyane Wade’s NBA record of 10.
Clippers vs. Nuggets
Clippers: Last played on Christmas in 2019 (Won 111-106 vs. Lakers)
Nuggets: Last played on Christmas in 2019 (Lost 112-100 vs. Pelicans)
• Kawhi Leonard had 35 points, 12 rebounds and five assists vs. the Lakers on Christmas Day last year.
• Last season, the Nuggets hosted a game on Christmas Day for the first time since 1994.
Christmas Day historyRelive some of the great Christmas Day games in NBA history
Team-by-team Christmas Day records
Note: Only franchises that have played at least one game on Christmas Day are listed. Includes games when franchises were based in different locations.
|Los Angeles Lakers||23-23||.500||13-12||9-9||1-2||1949||2019|
Most points in a single Christmas Day gameRelive Bernard King’s 60-point game from 1984
|60||Bernard King (Knicks)||1984||Knicks vs. Nets|
|59||Wilt Chamberlain (Warriors)||1961||Warriors vs. Knicks (2OT)|
|50||Rick Barry (Warriors)||1966||Warriors vs. Royals|
|47||Jerry West (Lakers)||1963||Lakers vs. Knicks|
|46||Tracy McGrady (Magic)||2002||Magic vs. Pistons|
Most rebounds in a single Christmas Day game
|36||Wilt Chamberlain (Warriors)||1961||Warriors vs. Knicks (2OT)|
|34||Bill Russell (Celtics)||1965||Celtics vs. Bullets|
|34||Wilt Chamberlain (Warriors)||1959||Warriors vs. Nationals|
|33||Bill Russell (Celtics)||1958||Celtics vs. Knicks|
|31||Bill Russell (Celtics)||1964||Celtics vs. Pistons|
Most assists in a single Christmas Day game
|18||Nate Archibald (Kings)||1972||Kings vs. Bucks|
|18||Guy Rodgers (Bulls)||1966||Bulls vs. Knicks|
|17||Oscar Robertson (Royals)||1961||Royals vs. Lakers|
|16||Nate Archibald (Kings)||1975||Kings vs. Suns|
|16||Oscar Robertson (Royals)||1965||Royals vs. Warriors|
|16||Oscar Robertson (Royals)||1963||Royals vs. Hawks|
|16||Oscar Robertson (Royals)||1960||Royals vs. Pistons|
Most blocks in a single Christmas Day game
|8||DeAndre Jordan (Clippers)||2011||Clippers vs. Warriors|
|7||Rudy Gobert (Jazz)||2018||Jazz vs. Blazers|
|7||Elvin Hayes (Bullets)||1980||Bullets vs. Nets|
|6||Tim Duncan (Spurs)||2013||Spurs vs. Rockets|
|6||DeAndre Jordan (Clippers)||2013||Clippers vs. Warriors|
|6||Tyson Chandler (Knicks)||2011||Knicks vs. Celtics|
|6||Amar’e Stoudemire (Knicks)||2010||Knicks vs. Bulls|
|6||Larry Smith (Warriors)||1980||Warriors vs. Blazers|
|6||Terry Tyler (Pistons)||1979||Pistons vs. Cavs|
Players with most Christmas Day wins
|PLAYER||W-L RECORD (WIN%)|
|Dwyane Wade||10-3 (.769)|
|Udonis Haslem||9-1 (.900)|
|Dick Van Arsdale||9-3 (.750)|
|LeBron James||9-5 (.643)|
|Mike Riordan||8-0 (1.000)|
|Arnie Risen||8-1 (.889)|
|Wes Unseld||8-1 (.889)|
|Slater Martin||8-2 (.800)|
|Dick Barnett||8-3 (.727)|
|Oscar Robertson||8-4 (.667)|
|Earl Monroe||8-5 (.615)|
|Dolph Schayes||8-5 (.615)|
|Bob Davies||7-0 (1.000)|
|Scottie Pippen||7-0 (1.000)|
|Jack Coleman||7-1 (.875)|
|Mychal Thompson||7-1 (.875)|
|Bobby Wanzer||7-1 (.875)|
|Paul Seymour||7-2 (.778)|
|Wayne Embry||7-3 (.700)|
|Vern Mikkelsen||7-3 (.700)|
|Walt Frazier||7-4 (.636)|
Coaches with most Christmas Day wins
|COACH||W-L RECORD (WIN%)|
|Jack Ramsay||11-3 (.786)|
|Phil Jackson||11-7 (.611)|
|Gene Shue||9-4 (.692)|
|Red Auerbach||9-6 (.600)|
|Red Holzman||8-7 (.533)|
|Les Harrison||7-0 (1.000)|
|Erik Spoelstra||7-0 (1.000)|
|John McLeod||6-2 (.750)|
|Joe Lapchick||6-2 (.750)|
|John Kundla||6-3 (.667)|
|Doc Rivers||6-6 (.500)|