Notes to know: 2017 NBA Christmas Day games

NBA.com Global on Dec 23, 2017 03:53 PM
Notes to know: 2017 NBA Christmas Day games
NBA Christmas Games 2017

NBA press release

Here are some important stats and info about this year's batch of NBA Christmas Day (Dec. 26, PHL time) games

Ben Simmons (left) and Kristaps Porzingis. (NBAE via Getty Images)

PHILADELPHIA 76ERS @ NEW YORK KNICKS (1am, PHL time on NBA League Pass)

All-Time Head-to-Head: PHI leads 244-201
Christmas Head-to-Head: PHI leads 6-5
Christmas Day Records: PHI – 16-13 (Last: 2001) | NYK – 22-29 (2016)

• Philadelphia and New York are meeting for the first time this season.
• The Knicks are playing in their NBA-high 52nd Christmas Day game, a history that dates to 1947, when the team defeated the Providence Steamrollers 89-75 during the first edition of the NBA on Christmas. New York’s 22 victories are tied for the most on Christmas with the Lakers.
• Philadelphia is playing on Christmas for the first time since 2001 – an 88-82 loss to the Lakers in a rematch of the 2001 NBA Finals.
• New York and Philadelphia are meeting on Christmas for the first time since 1978.
• The matchup features three potential first-time All-Star selections in the 76ers’ Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and the Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis. All three international standouts have unique skill sets relative to their size and position.
• Both teams have a substantial international presence. Five of the 10 projected starters hail from outside the U.S.: Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid (Cameroon), Dario Saric (Croatia) and Ben Simmons (Australia), and New York’s Enes Kanter (Turkey) and Kristaps Porzingis (Latvia). Other countries represented on the two rosters are France, Spain and Canada.  
• Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek played for the 76ers for two seasons (1992-94). He was part of the trade the sent Hall of Famer Charles Barkley from Philadelphia to Phoenix in 1992.

Kevin Love (left) and Klay Thompson. (NBAE via Getty Images)

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS @ GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (4am, PHL time on S+A and NBA Premium)

All-Time Head-to-Head: GSW leads 57-52
Christmas Head-to-Head: Tied 1-1
Christmas Day Records: CLE – 7-6 (Last: 2016) | GSW – 11-15 (Last: 2016)

• Cleveland and Golden State are meeting for the first time since the 2017 NBA Finals.
• This is the third consecutive Christmas Day matchup between the teams. The last teams to meet three straight years on Christmas were the Lakers and Heat from 2004-06.
• Last season’s Christmas matchup was a classic. Cleveland rallied from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit and Kyrie Irving made a game-winning shot with 3.4 seconds left.
• Last season, the Cavs and Warriors became the first teams to meet in three straight NBA Finals.
• The rosters have combined for 55 All-Star selections and eight of the last nine MVP awards.
• Cleveland’s Dwyane Wade is the NBA’s winningest player on Christmas Day (10-2). This year will be his 13th Christmas game, tied for the second-most appearances behind Kobe Bryant (16).  
• Teammates LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are tied for third in scoring (301 points) and assists (76) on the NBA’s all-time Christmas Day lists, making them the active leaders in both categories. Kobe Bryant (395) and Oscar Robertson (377) are the top two in scoring. Robertson (145) and Bryant (85) are the top two in assists.
• Cleveland’s Isaiah Thomas could be back in time from his hip injury to play on Christmas. Last season, Thomas finished fifth in the MVP voting – just behind new teammate LeBron James and just ahead of his point guard counterpart in this game, Stephen Curry (health permitting).
• Golden State forward Kevin Durant’s 44-point performance for Oklahoma City against Denver in 2010 is the highest-scoring game by an active player on Christmas Day.

John Wall (left) and Kyrie Irving. (NBAE via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON WIZARDS @ BOSTON CELTICS (6:30am, PHL time on NBA League Pass)

All-Time Head-to-Head: BOS leads 187-111
Christmas Head-to-Head: BOS leads 1-0
Christmas Day Records: WAS – 15-7 (Last: 2014) | BOS – 13-17 (Last: 2016)

• This is the first meeting between the Celtics and Wizards since their dramatic playoff series in the 2017 Eastern Conference Semifinals. Boston won in seven games.
• The Celtics have four new starters since last facing the Wizards – including 19-year-old Jayson Tatum and 21-year-old Jaylen Brown – and yet Boston has gotten off to the NBA’s best start.
• The Celtics are playing a home game on Christmas Day for the first time in franchise history. Boston has played 30 previous games on Christmas – 28 on the road and two at neutral sites.
• In the teams’ only Christmas Day matchup, Boston defeated the Baltimore Bullets 113-99 in 1965. In that game, Bill Russell grabbed 34 rebounds for the Celtics.
• Twin brothers Marcus Morris of the Celtics and Markieff Morris of the Wizards square off for the first time with Marcus in a Celtics uniform. Marcus was traded from Detroit in the offseason.
• Washington’s John Wall (2010) and Boston’s Kyrie Irving (2011) were the top overall picks in their respective NBA Drafts and have each appeared in four NBA All-Star Games.
• Washington’s Bradley Beal is making a strong push to be a first-time All-Star selection. He recently scored a career-high 51 points in a game against Portland.

James Harden (left) and Russell Westbrook. (NBAE via Getty Images)

HOUSTON ROCKETS @ OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (9am, PHL time on BTV)

All-Time Head-to-Head: OKC leads 107-106
Christmas Head-to-Head: First meeting
Christmas Day Records: HOU – 5-4 (Last: 2015) | OKC – 5-13 (Last: 2016)

• Houston and Oklahoma City are meeting for the first time since the Rockets defeated the Thunder in five games in the first round of the 2017 playoffs.
• Former teammates Russell Westbrook and James Harden dueled for the MVP last season. Westbrook earned the honor and Harden finished second. Harden, however, was the only unanimous selection to the 2016-17 All-NBA First Team.  
• James Harden leads the NBA in scoring and narrowly trails Russell Westbrook for the assists lead. The only player to lead in both categories for a season is Tiny Archibald in 1972-73. Last season, Harden ranked second in scoring behind Westbrook and was the league leader in assists.  
• The center matchup features two top young international big men in Houston’s Clint Capela (Switzerland) and Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams (New Zealand).   
• Carmelo Anthony is averaging 33.2 points in five Christmas Day games, the highest mark among all players who have appeared in four or more games on the holiday.
• The Seattle SuperSonics went 0-11 on Christmas Day. Since the franchise moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder, the team is 5-2 on Christmas.

Andrew Wiggins (left) and Brandon Ingram. (NBAE via Getty Images)

MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES @ L.A. LAKERS (11:30am, PHL time on NBA Premium)

All-Time Head-to-Head: LAL leads 77-29
Christmas Head-to-Head: First meeting
Christmas Day Records: MIN – 0-1 (Last: 2016) | LAL – 22-21 (Last: 2016)

• Minnesota and Los Angeles are meeting for the first time this season.
• This year marks the Lakers’ 19th consecutive appearance on Christmas Day. Los Angeles has appeared in the second-most Christmas Day game in history (43) and is tied with the Knicks for the most victories (22).  
• The Lakers made their first 11 Christmas Day appearances (1949-1959) when the franchise was in Minneapolis.
• Last year was Minnesota’s first game on Christmas Day. The Timberwolves lost to Oklahoma City 112-100.
• Minnesota’s Andrew Wiggins averaged 37.8 points in four games against the Lakers last season, including a career-high 47 points on Nov. 13, 2016, and 41 points on April 9, 2017.
• The Timberwolves, fifth in the West midway through Week 8 of the season, are looking to make the playoffs for the first time since 2004. That season, they lost in the Western Conference Finals to a Lakers team that included current Lakers coach Luke Walton.
• The Lakers are seeking to build around former No. 2 overall draft picks Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball in much the same way that the Timberwolves are bringing along former No. 1 overall draft picks and NBA Rookie of the Year winners Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins.

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