Merry Christmas to you and to those of you reading today. It’s Christmas in the NBA and the league is back today with five marquee matchups for everyone around the world. The Sixers play the Knicks at 12:00 p.m., LeBron and the Lakers play the Dallas Mavericks at 2:30 p.m., and the Bucks square off against the Celtics at 5:00 p.m. Later at 8:00 PM the Grizzlies will be on the road against the Warriors and finally the Suns and Nuggets will play at 10:30 PM.
The league has been playing games on Christmas Day since 1947, and it’s a day that all NBA fans look forward to. There’s something different about NBA basketball on Christmas Day. We have seen some truly epic matches over the years and the stars always come out to play in this kind of setting. With that being said, let’s take a look at what we think are the top 5 NBA Christmas Day matchups of all time.
NBA’s Biggest Christmas Day Game: Warriors vs. Cavs (2016) pic.twitter.com/rMyaOt01gy
— ThrowbackHoops (@ThrowbackHoops) December 19, 2022
Top 5 NBA Christmas Day Games of All Time
5. Chicago Bulls vs Lakers, 2011
Coming in at number five on our list is It was the 2011 Christmas Day game between Chicago and LA. This was a prime-time matchup between then-MVP Derrick Rose against the legendary Kobe Bryant. A very bright stage is set for two of the league’s biggest stars.
The game was not as high-scoring as the NBA. Bryant and the Lakers held a 69-68 lead entering the fourth quarter. LA controlled the ball for the fourth quarter and built a six-point lead with a minute left, but Chicago’s Luol Deng scored five unanswered points in 25 seconds to cut the lead to one with 20.4 seconds left.
Chicago forced Bryant to turn the ball over with a double team and the ball was in Derrick Rose’s hands for the win. Rose picked up Derek Fisher with 11 seconds left and hit a crazy floater over the outstretched arms of Pau Gasol to give the Bulls the lead with 4.8 left. Deng blocked Bryant’s game-winning shot to cap Chicago’s victory, and the Bulls stole a game from the Lakers in a memorable Christmas Day matchup.
One of the most underrated Christmas Day games of 2011 has to be the Bulls vs. Lakers. pic.twitter.com/9FCd4f3RjZ
— D1uce (@D1uceFightClub) August 6, 2022
4. Warriors vs. Clippers, 2013
Steph Curry and Chris Paul are considered two of the greatest point guards of all time. Earlier in their careers, they reunited on Christmas Day 2013 for a surprise performance. Curry was still establishing his dominance in the league and Paul was being called the best PG in the league at the time.
He played top-notch basketball throughout the game, but he’s best remembered for how chippy he was in the game. Draymond Green was ejected for elbowing Blake Griffin in the head in the third quarter and ejected himself in the fourth after receiving his second technical foul. Carrie and Paul battle back and forth trying to beat their team. This game fueled the Warriors and Clippers rivalry for years to come. Golden State won 105-103.
3. Lakers vs Heat, 2003
After the 2003 season, the historic duo of Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant broke up. Shaq was traded to Miami and the NBA decided to return to LA for the first time for a Christmas Day matchup against his former team. When O’Neal was on the team, LA weren’t the powerhouse they once were. Bryant is one of the best of all time, but even those players still need another superstar by their side to reach the top of the NBA.
Miami came into the game as heavy favorites and there was intense tension in the building for much of the game. The Heat came into that game on a ten game winning streak and gave the Lakers a run for their money. O’Neal and Bryant had been going all night. Shaq fouled out with two minutes left in the fourth, and would miss OT time as well. Dwayne Wade crammed in the minutes O’Neal missed for the Heat and they won a close game against the Lakers.
— NBA History (@NBAHistory) December 16, 2022
2. Bulls vs. Knicks, 1994
The Chicago Bulls were without Michael Jordan for this matchup against the New York Knicks as he was in retirement at the time. With the Knicks beating the Bulls in seven games and anyone winning, the tension between the two teams is high. On this particular day, Scottie Pippen decided they didn’t beat the Knicks.
Pippen leads the Bulls with 36 points, 16 rebounds, 3 assists and five steals in the game. The game went to OTT, scoring all seven of the Bulls’ points in that extra quarter. He put the Bulls up 107-104 with under a minute left and he wasn’t done yet. New York made two game-tying three-point attempts, both of which were blocked by Pippen. He did not allow the team to lose that game.
1. Knights vs Warriors, 2016
Cleveland and Golden State have a long-standing rivalry dating back to 2010 when both teams met on multiple occasions in the NBA Finals. In the year Their rematch on Christmas Day in 2016 was more of a home game, even though it was a regular season game. Neither side liked it, and Cleveland came back from a 3-1 deficit in the finals to win an impressive game-seven, ending the Warriors’ 73-win season.
The Warriors decided to upgrade their roster and did so by signing former league MVP Kevin Durant, who won two championships with Golden State in 2017 and 2018. It went back and forth the whole game and each side was trying to make it. All you can do to win. Kyrie Irving hit a much-needed slider in the fourth and hit a tough game-winner over Klay Thompson. The Warriors had 3.4 seconds to shoot, but KD blocked the ball and Cleveland defeated the Warriors again.
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— NBA History (@NBAHistory) December 25, 2019