NBA schedule #SZN is here!
Though the NBA will release the entire schedule for the 2018-19 season on Wednesday evening, but part of its slate has already started trickling out. And why would we expect anything else? This is the NBA we’re talking about. Actual dates and deadlines do not matter. We always get armed with information well before them.
In this case, the league’s Christmas day slate appears to be officially set.
The first wave of reports came from The New York Times‘ Marc Stein, who heard we’re in for Knicks-Bucks, Celtics-76ers and Lakers-Warriors on Dec. 25:
A vintage dose of Celtics/Sixers, Giannis and the Bucks at MSG against the Knicks and (you guessed it) LeBron's Lakers in Oakland to face the Warriors are the highlights of the NBA's Christmas Day schedule that will be announced Wednesday afternoon, league sources tell @NYTSports
— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) August 8, 2018
Soon after, ESPN.com’s Chris Haynes confirmed the Jazz will also be squaring off with the Blazers on Christmas night:
Portland Trail Blazers will face the Utah Jazz on the road in one of the five Christmas Day games, league sources tell ESPN.
— Chris Haynes (@ChrisBHaynes) August 8, 2018
And finally, ESPN.com’s Tim MacMahon confirmed what we were all assuming—the Rockets and Thunder are set for a rematch of last year’s holiday affair:
League sources: The Thunder will visit the Rockets on Christmas.
— Tim MacMahon (@espn_macmahon) August 8, 2018
All of these matchups basically track. The Knicks are the only undeserving squad of the 10-team bunch. They’re not going to be good next year, and they probably won’t even have Kristaps Porzingis in the lineup for their sparring with the Bucks. Their inclusion is, as per usual, purely big-market satiation.
The Blazers could technically also fall under this umbrella. They finished with the Western Conference’s No. 3 seed last season, but the gap between them and ninth place wasn’t very large and they didn’t make any substantive changes this summer. They could technically find themselves on the outskirts of the playoff picture. Still, they should be relevant enough to warrant Christmas Day exposure.
That means there would only be room for one snub in a hypothetical do-over. I included some options below:
"because I miss you
most at Christmas time
and I can't get you
get you off my mind
every other season comes along
and I'm all right
but then I miss you
most at Christmas time"
-Mariah Carey pic.twitter.com/PEr972RzaU
— Dan Favale (@danfavale) August 8, 2018
If it has to be an Eastern Conference squad replacing the Knicks, my vote would be the Raptors, who figure to contend with the Celtics for pole positioning in the standings. The Pacers would also be a good choice from a competition standpoint. If we’re going strictly off star power, though, then there’s no debate. Anthony Davis’ Pelicans aren’t getting enough national shine.
Anyway…Merry Christmas in August!