On Wednesday afternoon, the NBA released its full schedule for the 2022-23 season, including key dates and fixtures throughout the year.
Among these important dates, the league officially announced the roster for Christmas Day 2022, which had been reported prior to the league’s announcement.
Next season, five games will be played on Christmas Day and those five games, which will run from midday until late at night, will feature eight playoff teams from the 2021/22 season, and seven of the ten participating teams won a playoff series a season ago.
Of course, everyone wants to see the defending champions Golden State Warriors led by Stephen Curry, and the same goes for LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers despite coming off a season where they missed the playoffs!
The league will also have some of the younger superstars in play today with Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics), Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks), Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks) and Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets).
All five of this year’s Christmas Day games should be fun to watch, but every time this schedule is released we always have to ask ourselves:
“Did the NBA get that right?”
Let’s start with the positives of this five-game schedule, because no one can really argue with the Memphis Grizzlies taking on the Golden State Warriors, a rehash of their Western Conference Semifinals series from last year.
These two teams suddenly don’t like each other anymore, making for some very intriguing 48 minutes of play every time they step onto the pitch together!
Not to mention, since the regular season, players from both teams have been shooting at each other on social media, so it seemed inevitable that the Grizzlies and Warriors would see each other in prime time on Christmas Eve.
It also makes sense for the league to pit the Milwaukee Bucks against the defending Eastern Conference champions Boston Celtics.
Boston defeated Milwaukee in a seven-game Eastern Conference semifinal series last year, and these are the last two Eastern Conference teams to make the NBA Finals.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is arguably the best player in the world right now and on the other hand Jayson Tatum has emerged as one of the better scorers in the entire league. A top-flight offensive team in the Bucks against a top-flight defensive team in the Celtics should be a fantastic matchup and potentially a preview of the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals.
If you look at the final game on Christmas Day, the Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets are two of the better teams in the league, but to have them play each other on the biggest day on the league schedule is kind of a disappointment.
These two teams are not rivals and have met only once in the postseason since 1989. While the Nuggets and Suns should definitely be part of this five-game plan, they should be paired with different teams.
I mean, just look at one of the earlier games of the Los Angeles Lakers visiting the Dallas Mavericks.
Los Angeles has long been a rival to Denver, dating back to their 2008-2012 playoff clashes, and putting LeBron James, a four-time MVP, against Nikola Jokic, the reigning league MVP, is an even better game .
The Dallas Mavericks recently defeated the Phoenix Suns in Game 7 of their Western Conference Semifinals series and embarrassed the Suns by a total of 60 points in their last two playoff games.
This suddenly turned into a rivalry among the fans and on the field, both teams vented their frustrations with their physicality and on-field shoving during the playoffs.
Everyone wants to see Luka Doncic and the Mavericks take on Devin Booker and the Suns again, which is why the NBA missed a prime opportunity to pit those two teams against each other in Phoenix to end the night.
I think that leaves us with just one game, which happens to be the first game of the day, played at 12:00pm ET. on Christmas day.
Most people outside of the tri-state area will likely tune into the NFL action shortly after this game begins, and that’s because the New York Knicks will be hosting the Philadelphia 76ers.
The 76ers are a great team and in all honesty, they’ll have a shot at winning the Eastern Conference next year if they stay healthy, but the same can’t be said for the New York Knicks, who are still nothing more than a team , which could potentially sneak into the playoffs if everything goes their way.
Philadelphia and New York are rivals in virtually every single sport and they’re two of the more historic franchises in NBA history, but there really isn’t much to be excited about in this duel.
The Miami Heat knocked out the Philadelphia 76ers from the playoffs last season, they were the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference last year, and Jimmy Butler played with the Sixers earlier in his career which would have set the Heat and 76ers face-off can fascinating first game on Christmas Day.
Perhaps even Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks, who knocked Philadelphia out of the playoffs to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2021, could have been a better opponent.
Or better yet, even though they’re dealing with a lot of drama right now, the Brooklyn Nets would have been the perfect opponent for the Philadelphia 76ers on Christmas Day simply because those two teams hate each other, their fan bases hate each other, and then James Harden, the 2021 came to the Nets, requested a trade from Brooklyn last season and was dealt to the 76ers midseason, contributing to the Nets’ internal collapse.
Who knows, maybe the New York Knicks will be the surprise story of the 2022-23 NBA season, but to host the first Christmas Day game for next year is a bit of a disappointment from a fan’s perspective.
Overall, however, the NBA did a pretty good job putting together this year’s five-game schedule for December 25th.