The Significance Of Landing A Christmas Day Game

You read that headline right.

Just one season removed from a 16-win season, the Minnesota Timberwolves will be playing in a Christmas Day game in 2016-17. On Dec. 25 at 7 p.m., the Wolves will play the Thunder in Oklahoma City. It's one of 19 nationally televised games on the season for the Wolves.

It will be the first Christmas Day game in franchise history.

Talk about a turnaround.

How did the Wolves get to where they are so fast?

If you watch basketball, you know why. The Wolves are the most exciting young team in basketball. Karl-Anthony Towns is the NBA’s next big star. Andrew Wiggins is trying to get the Wolves to the playoffs this season. And Zach LaVine is oozing potential.

Prior to Kevin Durant leaving the Thunder, that’s the team the Wolves were most compared to with their young core. Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, Serge Ibaka. The core was there. 

And when it comes to success, that’s not a bad comparison. The Thunder made the Western Conference Finals four times and the NBA Finals once with the majority of that group. Of course, the black cloud over this is that they never won an NBA title with Durant on the team. The good news for Oklahoma City, though, was that Westbrook resigned with the Thunder, so not all is lost.

This is the battle of the ghost of Christmas Day past and a Timberwolves team that certainly looks like the future. Much to Westbrook’s dismay, this Oklahoma City team is on its way down, but when you have a top-5 player like Westbrook, homecourt in the playoffs is still realistic.

The Wolves, on the other hand, are the young darlings of the NBA. But head coach Tom Thibodeau will tell you, expectations are just that. Hard work has to be put in. And if you've been following this young core over the offseason, you know that they're all about that action. 

This game, for many, represents the handing of the baton from the Thunder to the Wolves as the next up-and-coming team in the West.

For some reason, though, I don’t think Westbrook will be too willing to let it go.

The Timberwolves erupted onto the national scene last season after an upset in Golden State. This Christmas Day game has them on center stage, a place they will probably be for a long time.