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Breaking down the NBA’s 2021 Christmas Day schedule

(AP Photo / Matt York)

The NBA’s Christmas Day schedule has become a staple of the sports world over the years, generally featuring enough games to lift basketball fans’ spirits from the morning late into the night.

Five games over the span of more than 10 hours seems like a lot at first glance, let alone when you add in two NFL games throughout the day, as well.

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With so much going on, it’s understandable for any level of basketball fan to be overwhelmed with questions. You may be asking:

  • “Which games should I plan my holiday around?”
  • “When can I watch my favorite players?”
  • “When should I take my Christmas Day nap?”

Luckily, we have all of the answers you’re looking for. To ring in the holiday season, it’s time for a breakdown of the NBA’s Christmas Day schedule for 2021:

12 p.m. ET: Atlanta Hawks vs. New York Knicks

The New York Knicks looked strong throughout the 2020-2021 season, but lost 13 of their first 25 games to kick off their 2021-2022 campaign.

The Atlanta Hawks found themselves in a similar situation after a stellar run last year, clocking in at 13-12 through their own first 25 games.

When the fitting 25th of December rolls around, each team will look to kick off their Christmas Day in a joyful mood when they battle it out at Madison Square Garden.

Records aside, this one should be a fun appetizer as you get started on a sports-filled Saturday.

2:30 p.m. ET: Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks

As we inch closer to the day’s main courses, NBA fans will get a nice holiday treat as the Celtics travel to take on the Bucks.

A combination of teams that many expected to be the Conference Finals matchup when this year’s postseason rolls around, the Bucks and Celtics find themselves in very different spots as December rolls along.

Milwaukee, with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton at the helm, were 16-10 through their first 26 games, good enough to land a game-and-a-half back of the top spot in the Eastern Conference standings.

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Meanwhile, Boston was an underwhelming 13-13 through that same span, posing loads of questions for fans who were excited about what Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and company could do this season.

A win on Christmas Day over the reigning champion Bucks would be a nice present for first-year Celtics coach Ime Udoka, but this one will be a gift for basketball fans around the country regardless.

5 p.m. ET: Golden State Warriors vs. Phoenix Suns

Give us this matchup for the Western Conference Finals when May comes around, please.

The Warriors and Suns put on a show in their first meeting to wrap up November, with the Suns taking down the red-hot Dubs in Phoenix. Fast-forward a few days, Steph Curry and the Warriors returned the favor in their home arena, albeit without Devin Booker in Phoenix’s lineup.

If these two squads are at full strength when Santa Claus comes to deliver goodies on Christmas Day, then this one will likely be the best game of the day.

8 p.m. ET: Brooklyn Nets vs. Los Angeles Lakers

While the Suns-Warriors game has the potential to be the best of the day, the primetime tilt between the Nets and Lakers in Los Angeles will undoubtedly be the biggest of the bunch.

LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook against Kevin Durant and James Harden. Westbrook collides with former teammates, and James looks to prove to basketball fans that he should be considered a better player than Durant.

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Add in a litany of other big names on both sides that includes Dwight Howard, Blake Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Rajon Rondo, and this one has it all.

It’s tough to imagine load management taking superstars out of a top-tier matchup like this, so you should have your popcorn and holiday desserts ready by the time this one tips off at 8 p.m. ET on Christmas Day.

10:30 p.m. ET: Dallas Mavericks vs. Utah Jazz

Wrapping things up on the West Coast, the Dallas Mavericks and Utah Jazz will duke it out in Salt Lake City for your Christmas Day finale.

The Jazz are off to a hot start towards the beginning of their 2021-2022 campaign, winning 18 of their first 25 after going 52-20 last year.

On the other end, the Mavericks went just 12-12 through their first 24 games, but found themselves in a respectable sixth place in the Western Conference standings in the process.

This one may seem underwhelming after watching the Suns and Warriors and then the Lakers and Nets, but it’ll be a nice way to wind down after a busy Christmas Day schedule across the sports world.

Which Christmas Day game are you looking forward to the most? Let us know by following @SOTSports on Twitter or by liking our Facebook page!

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