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Mapping out your 2020 Christmas Day sports schedule

(AP Photo / Marcio Jose Sanchez)

It may have seemed impossible during the early stages of 2020, but sports fans will have a full slate of games to look forward to after Santa Claus delivers everyone’s presents on Christmas Day.

Even with COVID-19 impacting the start date of the 2020-2021 regular season, the NBA made certain that everyone could experience an annual tradition once the holiday rolls around in a year like no other.

With five different games to watch throughout the day, basketball fans have all sorts of options to look forward to on Christmas Day.

>>RELATED: Breaking down the NBA’s 2020 Christmas Day schedule

For the first time since 2017, however, the NBA will have some company on a holiday that the league usually has all to itself.

In a rare Friday afternoon game, the NFL will thrust itself into the spotlight on Christmas Day. As a result, the NBA will have some competition, and viewers will have some decisions to make once 4:30 p.m. ET rolls around.

As you begin to plan out what your Christmas Day will look like in 2020, here’s a schedule for you to ensure that you don’t miss any of the holiday’s big games.

12 p.m. ET: New Orleans Pelicans vs. Miami Heat

Pelicans forward Zion Williamson is likely going to be in the conversation as one of the NBA’s superstars for years to come, so it makes sense to kick off such a unique Christmas Day with such a big name.

>>RELATED: How the NBA is adjusting the 2020-2021 season amid the COVID-19 pandemic

Williamson’s Pelicans will take on one of the league’s hottest commodities, the Miami Heat, at noon ET as kids on the East Coast start to settle down after seeing what Santa Claus delivered early in the morning.

With names like Williamson, Pelicans forward Brandon Ingram, Heat guard Jimmy Butler and Heat up-and-comers Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro, young fans will get a glimpse at the present and future of the league in this one.

It’s a nice, even matchup to start off the holiday, and will be the perfect appetizer for the rest of a star-studded Christmas Day.

2:30 p.m. ET: Golden State Warriors vs. Milwaukee Bucks

If things had gone differently for the Warriors in recent years, fans may have seen this pairing on the national stage on dozens of occasions, including potential battles in the NBA Finals.

Instead, fans will get to watch two basketball juggernauts as they look to return to glory in the 2020-2021 season, as Steph Curry’s Warriors take on Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Bucks.

>>RELATED: ‘We can compete with anyone’: Don’t count out the Klay Thompson-less Warriors

With the massive amount of money the Bucks just invested in Antetokounmpo long-term, the question marks surrounding the Warriors after Klay Thompson’s injury, and all of the talent that will be on the floor on both sides, this one is the equivalent of television gold wrapped up in a pretty bow for fans on Christmas Day.

4:30 p.m. ET: Minnesota Vikings vs. New Orleans Saints

For the first time since 2017, sports fans will be able to enjoy both football and basketball, as an NFL game joins the NBA’s annual Christmas Day slate.

Midway through the day, the Minnesota Vikings will take on a familiar friend when they battle the New Orleans Saints down in Louisiana.

>>RELATED: The history of the NFL on Christmas Day

These two teams have plenty of history, with the Vikings knocking out the Saints in the Wild Card Round earlier in 2020, and marching over the Saints in the infamous/controversial “Minneapolis Miracle” in 2018.

You’re going to want to fire up a second screen or have the remote ready to switch channels during commercials as you enjoy Christmas Day’s lone football game, and one of the holiday’s biggest NBA matchups at 5 p.m. ET.

5 p.m. ET: Brooklyn Nets vs. Boston Celtics

The NBA’s first of two marquee matchups features a litany of storylines and drama for fans to enjoy as the Brooklyn Nets take on the Boston Celtics.

If each team’s superstars suit up for this one, the game will serve as the first chance to see former Celtics star Kyrie Irving battle against his old team, and one of the first opportunities to watch Irving and fellow Nets superstar Kevin Durant play together.

On the flip side, Celtics fans will get to find out how young stars like Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown fare against a squad that will likely emerge towards the top of the Eastern Conference for years to come.

>>RELATED: The Greatest in Green: Breaking down the greatest Celtics of all time

With a 5 p.m. ET tipoff shortly after kickoff in the Vikings-Saints game, fans can settle in as they enjoy a festive Christmas Day dinner and enjoy the ride.

8 p.m. ET: Dallas Mavericks vs. Los Angeles Lakers

LeBron James vs. Luka Doncic. What more could basketball fans ask Santa Claus for as they build their Christmas lists?

The defending champion Lakers, fresh off of signing James and Anthony Davis to long-term extensions in the offseason, will battle a Mavericks squad with loads of potential heading into the 2020-2021 season.

>>RELATED: Reimagining the NBA’s bubble for a regular season in 2021

Doncic, Kristaps Porzingis, and a new focus on defense will make for quite the contender in the Western Conference, and this Christmas Day battle will allow them the chance to evaluate where they’re at in the early stages of the regular season.

For those on the East Coast, this will be just the dessert you need to wrap up the day after your Christmas Day feasts in the evening.

10:30 p.m. ET: Los Angeles Clippers vs. Denver Nuggets

To complete the NBA’s Christmas Day schedule for 2020, the league decided to pour a little salt in the wound for Clippers fans that haven’t gotten over the team’s historic collapse against the Nuggets in the Western Conference Semifinals just a few months ago.

>>RELATED: Is the Clippers’ collapse the worst in NBA playoff history?

Kawhi Leonard, Paul George and the Clippers will look to exact some revenge on Jamal Murray, Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets in the final act of your Christmas Day viewing schedule.

Can the Clippers recapture the momentum they had in the 2019-2020 season that had many believing in them as favorites in the Western Conference? Or, will the Nuggets keep the train rolling as they look to transfer their success from the bubble into their 2020-2021 campaign?

As you reflect on your Christmas experience at the end of the day, this Clippers-Nuggets game will be the perfect thing to help you wind down.

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