DAR Sports: 6 Classic NBA Christmas Day Games

By @TrueGodImmortal

Every year on Christmas, the NBA sets the schedule with a number of games to be played that usually signals the turning point for all things NBA. With the Christmas games going down today (or they'll have happened by the time you read this), we wanted to take a look back at a few of the classic Christmas NBA games over the years. Let's get into it.

*Miami Heat vs Los Angeles Lakers 
(December 25, 2004)

-The standard bearer for all Christmas games. The greatest of them all. I don't remember a game that I was more excited for at the time than this one. I was a Kobe fan and while Shaq was still a viable player of course, I wanted the Lakers to win. As Shaq returned to the Staples Center, the buzz was all around the first Kobe vs Shaq encounter in LA, with Dwyane Wade being a great secondary piece to the story. The Heat and the Lakers would battle it out and even go to overtime, where Kobe would try to hit a game winning three at the buzzer, but fall short. Shaq would foul out of the game in the 4th quarter very late, but finished with a solid 24 points and 11 rebounds, while Kobe dropped 42. This game had a lot of great moments, solid defense, and a lot of drama throughout the 53 minutes that were played. The Heat would win 104-102 in one of the better Christmas games in NBA history, and quite possibly the best NBA Christmas game ever. It's my favorite. 

*Los Angeles Lakers vs Phoenix Suns 
(December 25, 2007)

-I chose this one because it's mostly an underrated game that doesn't get discussed with all of the others. This game was actually a changing of the guard in the West, as the Suns had been a problem for the Lakers to get beyond in the playoffs and the Suns were in the top 3 seeds in the West every season for a while. There was also the fact that some felt Steve Nash was given a MVP award prior that should have went to Kobe. Regardless of whatever narrative you want to go with, the truth of the matter is, the Lakers had a point to prove. This game would see Kobe shoot 60% putting up 38 points and 7 assists, while Andrew Bynum would drop 28 points as well. The Lakers would win this game by 10, and they would go on to own the West once again for the next three seasons.

*Los Angeles Lakers vs Boston Celtics 
(December 25, 2008)

-While the Lakers vs Celtics had one of the greatest rivalries ever in NBA history, the truth of the matter is, this game doesn't seem to get discussed as much as it should. This was a rematch of the 2008 NBA Finals and for the Lakers, it was a chance at retribution. After a tough 6 game loss in the Finals, the world was ready for this battle. With the Lakers focused and ready to avenge their previous loss, the Celtics were in for a fight. The Celtics were on a roll, as they had won 19 straight games and sat at 27-2, looking much like the defending champions they were. The Lakers weren't too far behind, as they sat at 23-5 at the time of their battle. This game would take place in the Staples Center, and that home court advantage worked wonders for the Lakers. Kobe would drop 27 points, pull down 9 rebounds, and dish out 5 assists to propel the Lakers over the Celtics with a 92-83 win.

*Golden State Warriors vs Los Angeles Clippers 
(December 25, 2013)

-If you were wondering where the basis of the Clippers vs Warriors rivalry began..... look no further than this. One could not have guessed that this game would have the impact it would, but this game is the start of the intense rivalry between the Warriors and Clippers, as well as the underlying rivalry between Chris Paul and Steph Curry. This game was increasingly physical, as Blake Griffin would be ejected following picking up two technical fouls and Draymond Green would end up getting a flagrant 2 foul as well. Tensions flared in a game that went down to the wire, and Chris Paul missed the opportunity to take the lead and the win in the final seconds. The stars for the Warriors this game would be David Lee, who dropped 23 points and 13 rebounds while Steph Curry would add 15 points and 11 assists, and Klay Thompson would drop 23 points as well. The Warriors would win this game 105-103.

*Miami Heat vs Cleveland Cavaliers 
(December 25, 2014)

-LeBron would make his long awaited return to Miami after making his return to Cleveland in the off-season. For the first time in nearly 5 seasons, we would see LeBron vs Wade once again and the anticipation was higher than ever. The Heat seemed more focused in this game and they would be without Chris Bosh, who was recovering from injury. The Heat would get out to a huge lead at first, scoring at will against a lost Cavs defense, before the Cavs would make a big run to take the lead in the 4th quarter, but the Heat would manage to pull away in the end and close out the Cavs. The Heat would spoil the return of LeBron, and they would walk away from Christmas with a solid 101-91 victory. LeBron would drop 30 points while Kyrie would drop 25, and Wade would step up with 31 points while Luol Deng had a big game with 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists. This could have turned into a great rivalry had Bosh stayed healthy and Wade remained in Miami.

*Cleveland Cavaliers vs Golden State Warriors
(December 25, 2015 & 2016)

-I'll include both of these games together, as we gear up for round three of the Christmas rivalry between these two teams, but these two games have been the best on the Christmas schedule each year and I can only hope the third edition is the same way. The truth be told, the first Christmas game, which was of course a rematch of the 2015 Finals was interesting. It was a low scoring game, with the Warriors getting out to a 28-19 first quarter lead, but the Cavs would step up in the 2nd to cut it to a three point lead. As the score was 64-59 heading into the 4th, the Warriors would hold on and maintain with a big 89-83 victory. This was a good defensive contest, as LeBron finished with 25 points, Steph finished with 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists, and Draymond would be the difference maker with 22 points, 15 rebounds, and 7 assists. The 2016 game was a different dynamic with Kevin Durant added to the mix, and the result would end up being a classic. The Warriors led by 14 in the 4th, but a good amount of calls geared toward the Cavs and a few missed calls on the Warriors' side helped to jumpstart the Cavs making a big run. The Cavs would pull away with the victory due to a late clutch shot by Kyrie Irving who would finish with 25 points and 10 assists, while LeBron finished with 31 points and 13 rebounds. On the Warriors' side, Kevin Durant showed up to play, finishing with 36 points and 15 rebounds, but the Cavs would win 109-108. That game and the one the year before were great contests and the highlight of every Christmas Day, and injuries aside, one has to wonder if this will be the case once again this year. Only time will tell if we can add another Christmas game or two to the list of classics.



Popular Posts