For the 14th consecutive season, the league presents a five-game schedule on Christmas, each one broadcast to a national audience.
The NBA will feature five games on Christmas Day (Saturday, Dec. 25) for the 14th year in a row, with ESPN or ABC televising each matchup. pic.twitter.com/IEvOgFkXCQ
— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) August 17, 2021
These games showcase the NBA’s top talent and contending teams.
Although there are some notable snubs from the slate, this year’s lineup features a cast of compelling characters and storylines.
The Atlanta Hawks make their first Christmas Day appearance since 1989, following last year’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals.
They face the New York Knicks.
The defending champion Milwaukee Bucks host the Boston Celtics, while their NBA Finals opponent, the Phoenix Suns, welcome in the Golden State Warriors.
The marquee matchup of the day stands as the game between the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets in Los Angeles.
The festivities conclude when the Dallas Mavericks visit the Utah Jazz.
Despite this impressive slate, there are two teams that should not be part of this NBA tradition.
2. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors dynasty took a step back in recent years.
Injuries submarined their NBA Finals run in 2019 before Kevin Durant jumped ship for the Nets.
Since, the Warriors have struggled through stretches without any of their stars.
Klay Thompson hopes to be back on the court this season, but following two massive injuries, there’s no guarantee the marksman makes his way back in time.
Golden State earned a spot on the NBA’s Christmas Day slate thanks to their star, Stephen Curry.
But after five straight NBA Finals appearances and three championships, the Warriors have missed the playoffs the last two seasons.
Their loss to the Memphis Grizzlies in the Play-In Tournament last season prevented another postseason run for Curry and company.
Golden State stands as the only team among the five Christmas Day matchups to have not qualified for the playoffs last season.
Although there’s plenty of excitement in the Bay Area for a Warriors resurgence, those hopes are pinned upon a healthy Thompson and the emergence of young, unproven talent.
Other deserving clubs, like the Denver Nuggets, could have taken Golden State’s spot.
Nikola Jokic is the first reigning MVP to not get a Christmas Day game since the NBA went to 5 games on Christmas in 2008. pic.twitter.com/C05FQVkZax
— StatMuse (@statmuse) August 17, 2021
1. Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics stand as perhaps the most undeserving team among the 10 involved in the NBA’s Christmas Day slate.
The Celtics reshaped their front office and coaching staff after a disappointing season last year.
Brad Stevens left the sidelines and replaced the retired Danny Ainge as President of Basketball Operations in Boston.
The team then brought in first-time head coach Ime Udoka to take over Stevens’ role in the huddle.
The Celtics have made 34 appearances on Christmas Day, posting a 15-19 record.
Last year, Brooklyn drubbed Boston on Christmas, 123-95.
The Nets then went on to knock Boston out of the playoffs, winning their first-round series 4-1.
Boston’s front office, coaching staff, and roster uncertainty leave expectations for the 2021-22 season up in the air.
When considering the rest of the Eastern Conference, teams like the Miami Heat and Philadelphia 76ers seem like they deserve the Christmas Day showcase more than this iteration of the Celtics.