Keep the fun and excitement of Christmas going all day long with the NBA’s annual A-list lineup of matchups. Unlike last year, when Dec. 25th marked the return of NBA basketball due to the lockout, this year’s squads will have 20-plus games under their belts by the time Christmas rolls around. And it appears the NBA did a great job in forecasting matchups, as many of the 10 teams set to compete have jumped out to great starts in their respective divisions. Check out the details below and visit the Vivid Seats marketplace for our complete stock of 2012-13 NBA tickets on sale now.
Boston Celtics at Brooklyn Nets Tickets | Noon ET Despite losing Ray Allen in the offseason, the Boston Celtics have managed to make do without him thanks to the strong play of returning superstars, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Rajon Rondo, who leads the league with 12.9 assists per game. As of Dec. 14, the Celtics were in a second-place tie with the Brooklyn Nets, who will host the Christmas Day contest at the brand new Barclays Center. Between the change of scenery, uniforms, colors, and logo, the Nets are playing with new-found confidence and will likely be a playoff contender throughout the season.
New York Knicks at Los Angeles Lakers Tickets | 3 p.m. ET It’s unlikely anyone could have accurately predicted the results of the first 20 games of the season for both the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers. The Knicks lost Jeremy Lin, while the Lakers gained Steve Nash and Dwight Howard, but neither personnel change seems to have had the impact most were expecting. As of Dec. 14, the Knicks lead the Eastern Conference with a 17-5 mark, including a perfect 9-0 at Madison Square Garden. They’ll have to win at the Staples Center, however, as the Lakers will host the Christmas Day contest and will most certainly be looking to silence fans and critics alike, who have not seen the winning product they’d grown accustomed to. At 9-14, Kobe Bryant and company definitely have an uphill battle ahead.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Miami Heat Tickets | 5:30 p.m. ET Quite possibly the most anticipated matchup of the day; fans will get a rematch of the 2012 NBA Finals right around dinner time. At 18-4, the Oklahoma City Thunder currently own the best record in the league and as of Dec. 14, have won nine straight. With 27.3 points per game, all-star Kevin Durant ranks third in the NBA in scoring, just ahead of reigning MVP LeBron James, who is averaging 25.5 a game. The host Miami Heat are 10-2 at American Airlines Arena thus far, and have seemingly picked up right where they left off after last year’s championship season. As a team, the Heat rank fifth in points per game (103.2) and in assists per game (22.8), proving once again how dangerous the trio of James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh can be on the offensive end on a good night.
Houston Rockets at Chicago Bulls Tickets | 8 p.m. ET Though rumors are swirling that Derrick Rose will soon return, Chicago Bulls fans are undoubtedly getting antsy. Fortunately, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich, and Carlos Boozer have been working hard to pick up the slack and currently have the Bulls leading the Central Division with a record of 12-9. The Houston Rockets will visit the United Center with all-stars of their own in Jeremy Lin and James Harden, who each joined the squad in the offseason. The duo has made an immediate impact in the early going, with Lin leading the team in assists (6.1) and steals (1.8) per game, while Harden owns a team-best 25 points per game.
Denver Nuggets at Los Angeles Clippers Tickets | 10:30 p.m. ET In the final showdown of Christmas Day and second at the Staples Center, the division-leading Los Angeles Clippers will host the Denver Nuggets. The Chris Paul-Blake Griffin combo has been dominant once again, as Paul owns the team lead in assists (9.1) and steals (2.6) per game, while Griffin has pulled his own weight with 18.2 points per game and 8.9 rebounds per game. As a team, the Clippers rank sixth in scoring (101.8 ppg), seventh in points allowed (94.2), and eighth in assists (22.7). The Nuggets have struggled early on but continue to make strides, led by top scorer Danilo Gallinari’s 15.6 points per game.