For NBA fans, Christmas Day is generally highlighted by three things: Family, food and basketball. After a couple of relatively slow weeks news-wise, the league came back onto the radar on Friday as reports of the Christmas Day schedule started to trickle in. Leading the way is a matchup most expected: The intra-arena rivalry between the new-look Los Angeles Lakers and title favorite Los Angeles Clippers. Here's the full slate for Dec. 25, according to multiple reports:
The order of the games has not been released, but most of the NBA's top teams and stars are scheduled to appear. Given the whirlwind of player movement this offseason, this is one of the most intriguing Christmas Day slates in recent memory -- but not all games are created equal. Let's take a quick look at each one, and rank them in terms of watchability.
1. Lakers vs. Clippers
Watchability: 10 out of 10
Talk about a no-brainer. Once Kawhi Leonard and Paul George made their way to the Clippers, the L.A. rivalry against LeBron James, Anthony Davis and the Lakers became the NBA's marquee matchup. Both teams should be among the top title contenders next season, if they can stay healthy, and by Christmas they likely will have worked through any early-season chemistry kinks that may arise. Given the star power, the big market and the fact that both teams could conceivably win next year's title, the Lakers-Clippers matchup is a must-watch on Christmas Day.
2. Bucks at 76ers
Watchability: 9 out of 10
These two teams could potentially meet in the Eastern Conference finals -- not only next season, but also for years to come -- so it's only fitting that they do battle on the NBA's biggest regular-season stage. Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and 76ers big man/Twitter personality Joel Embiid are arguably the two best and most exciting players in the league under the age of 26, and are only getting better. On top of that, we'll get a look at one of the most unique lineups in NBA history as the 76ers figure to start five players all over 6-foot-6, including three players (Embiid, Ben Simmons and Al Horford) 6-10 or taller.
76ers center Joel Embiid and Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo will square off on Christmas Day. USATSI 3. Rockets at Warriors
Watchability: 8 out of 10
The Rockets and Warriors have played in some epic battles over the past few seasons, but the teams will look much different this time around. Kevin Durant is gone, Chris Paul was traded and Klay Thompson will likely still be out while recovering from knee surgery, but a new dynamic has been introduced with feisty Rockets guard Russell Westbrook (still weird to write that) entering the fold. Westbrook and James Harden have both put up big games against the Warriors in the past, but watching how they play together will be absolutely fascinating. On the Warriors side, we'll get to see the greatness of Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, while new acquisition D'Angelo Russell will try to acclimate himself to his new surroundings. This one gets docked just a little because not everyone enjoys the Rockets' isolation-heavy offense and Harden's theatrics, but it should be incredibly entertaining nonetheless.
The Warriors and Rockets will look a little different when they meet on Christmas Day USATSI 4. Pelicans at Nuggets
Watchability: 7 out of 10
This matchup might come as a bit of a surprise to some given that New Orleans and Denver aren't exactly the biggest markets out there, but the NBA often uses one of the Christmas Day games to showcase young talent -- and this game will have plenty of it. Zion Williamson is a walking highlight reel, and Nikola Jokic will likely be in the MVP conversation once again as one of the most unique big men the game has ever seen. Add in players like Jamal Murray, Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram, plus the break-neck pace the Pelicans will probably utilize, and you've got a fun game to watch while you're digesting a nice, homemade meal.
Zion Williamson will make his Christmas Day debut in his rookie season. USATSI 5. Celtics at Raptors
Watchability: 6 out of 10
The defending champs earned a spot in the Christmas slate despite losing Leonard -- and with him, any realistic shot of winning a second straight title. They'll meet another team that lost a superstar to free agency, though most Celtics fans don't exactly seem to be mourning the loss of Kyrie Irving to Brooklyn. With that in mind, this could end up being the most boring game of the day. Neither team has a true superstar (no offense to Kemba Walker), and both have been ranked in the top-five on defense for the past two seasons, so this might end up being more of a tactical battle than a barnburner. It should still be a good game, but this one falls a bit short of the rest of the slate.