While the NBA has yet to announce the full 2017-18 regular season schedule, they did drop a little teaser on Thursday:
The 2017 #NBAXmas Day Schedule!
10:30et: TWolves/Lakers pic.twitter.com/gELqXUNMY0
— NBA (@NBA) August 10, 2017
Look at those matchups! There’s something there for every basketball fan: the Battle of the Unicorns, a rematch between the last three NBA Finals participants, a budding rivalry in the northeast, a meeting between the MVP and runner-up from last season, and two of the most exciting young teams in the game. It’s virtually impossible to pack more action into a single day.
First up, the Philadelphia 76ers travel to Madison Square Garden to take on the New York Knicks. Assuming there are no major injuries (a big assumption when talking about the 76ers), Philadelphia will trot out their stable of young talent for the entire basketball world to see. Fan-favorite Joel Embiid will go head-to-head with Knicks’ star Kristaps Porzingis in what is sure to be the featured matchup in this game. Along with Embiid, the dynamic rookie tandem of Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons will look to make a splash with the spotlight on them. For New York, it might be a long season, but fans can at least take solace in a home game on Christmas afternoon.
This matchup doesn’t need much of an introduction, and an explanation wouldn’t do it justice. The Cleveland Cavaliers will head to the Bay area to take on the Golden State Warriors for a bloodbath between the two most dominant teams in recent memory. LeBron James vs. Kevin Durant. Kyrie Irving (maybe?) vs. Steph Curry. In last year’s Christmas matchup, these two teams put on a show, topped off by Irving’s incredible fourth-quarter performance. It’s not hard to imagine another instant classic, and as just the second game of the day, it’ll certainly be hard to top.
However, if any game does top that Finals rematch, it would be an exhilarating, physical game with a lot of history. Luckily, that’s exactly what the Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards is. Last season, the Isaiah Thomas-led Celtics took down John Wall and the Wizards in Game 7 of the second round playoffs. However, it was in Game 3 that a lot of emotion boiled over, particularly from Washington’s Kelly Oubre. After a hard foul from Kelly Olynyk of the Celtics, Oubre went after Olynyk pretty violently. This would cause a huge scuffle and a Game 4 suspension for Oubre. This wasn’t the first altercation between Boston and Washington though. Back in January, Wall began jawing with Jae Crowder, leading to another altercation. There is absolutely still some bad blood between these teams and it’s going to be a very interesting game to watch. Maybe John Wall will some off some of his flashy new passing as well.
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) August 8, 2017
Still not enticing enough? How about the reigning NBA MVP Russell Westbrook going up against the runner-up James Harden? The Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets both underwent big makeovers this offseason, with the Thunder adding perennial all-star Paul George and Houston acquiring an all-time great point guard in Chris Paul. These are two elite Western Conference teams, and two of the only teams that could give Golden State some trouble come playoff time. Perhaps most importantly, if either Harden or Westbrook hope to compete for a MVP, this head-to-head matchup could be a huge factor in deciding who takes home the hardware.
To top it all off, Jimmy Butler and the Timberwolves head to LA to face off against Lonzo Ball and the Lakers. Minnesota is packed with talent, including Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Meanwhile, Los Angeles is young and electrifying; viewers can expect Ball to throw a few lobs to Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle. Minnesota will look to compete out west this season, while the Lakers are still a year or two away from really making an impact. That being said, neither team will be anything short of amazing to watch. There’s so much athleticism and natural talent which should make this a very fun matchup. To top it all off, Minnesota will be rocking their new uniforms, even if the jury is still out on their looks.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) August 10, 2017
This is a prime example of why Christmas Day is the best day of the NBA season; those are some crazy exciting matchups and it’s hard to pick the best one. There’s a little something for every fan’s taste, whether it’s superstar showdowns or a possible first look at some exciting rookies on the national scale. At any rate, basketball fans rejoice, it’s time to start the Christmas countdown.