Merry Christmas Memphis. The Grizzlies are lined up to be part of this holiday’s NBA showcase for the first time.
Yes Morant and the Grizzlies will face Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and the rest of the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors on Dec. 25 in San Francisco, according to a person with knowledge of the league’s schedule. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity on Monday, as the league does not plan to release the season’s full schedule by the end of this week.
With the league yet to announce the final 1,230-game season list, it’s still possible that the Christmas schedule will change – although such a move is unlikely.
The Grizzlies were one of two current NBA franchises not yet having a game as of December 25. The Charlotte Hornets are now the only club still awaiting their first invite to the Christmas plan.
The rest of the Christmas schedule, the person said, will have Philadelphia versus New York, Milwaukee versus Boston, the Los Angeles Lakers versus Dallas and Phoenix versus two-time reigning MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets.
If the Lakers’ LeBron James — the all-time leader in the Christmas season who starts the season as the top player in NBA history by 1,325 points behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — shows up in that Dec. 25 game against the Mavericks, will it will be his 17th season on vacation. That would break a tie with Lakers great Kobe Bryant for most of all time.
Golden State and Memphis met in the second round of last season’s playoffs, as did Milwaukee and Boston.
This is the fifth year in a row that Christmas has not been an NBA Finals rematch, subject to a late change. Golden State surpassed Boston in the championship last season; There hasn’t been a rematch on December 25 since the Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers were on their way to a fourth straight meeting in the title series in the 2017-18 season.
Notably absent from the Christmas program: Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets. Durant told the Nets in June that he wants to trade elsewhere, and reiterated that request earlier this month.
Dallas will host a Christmas game for the second time. The other was in 2011, after the Mavericks led the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals last season. James and the Heat spoiled this season opener for the Mavericks, winning 105-94.
The Lakers will play Christmas for the 24th straight year, by far the longest stretch in the league. Golden State will perform on December 25th for their 10th consecutive Christmas, Boston for their seventh consecutive year, and Milwaukee for their fifth consecutive year.
New York is playing Christmas for the 55th time, extending its record.
Of the eight teams that made it to the conference semifinals last season, seven are on this year’s holiday schedule. The exception is Miami, last season’s No. 1 East, who fell to Boston in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals.
With Memphis now getting a December 25 game, the longest Christmas droughts besides Charlotte now include Sacramento (last Christmas game 2003), Indiana (2004), Detroit (2005), and Orlando (2011).
The NBA season starts on October 18th. The training camps will open at the end of September.
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