It’s always interesting to see what the NBA has set for its Christmas Day featured games. Last year, there were several new teams featured, with the Toronto Raptors, Los Angeles Clippers, New Orleans Pelicans and Denver Nuggets all appearing after not being there in 2018. And this year, as per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, there are some more new teams coming in:
ESPN Sources: Tentative Christmas Day Schedule pic.twitter.com/MId025HKvB
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 2, 2020
Update: The league confirmed this schedule Wednesday.
The teams there that weren’t on the 2019 slate are the Miami Heat, the Brooklyn Nets, and the Dallas Mavericks. The Raptors are absent, as are the Houston Rockets and Philadelphia 76ers. It makes sense for ESPN to take out the Raptors (who aren’t defending NBA champions any more, something that helped to offset their lack of local U.S. market ratings), but it’s interesting to see the Rockets and 76ers also gone, and to see the Heat, Nets and Mavericks added.
The Heat won the Eastern Conference last year, so that makes sense. But the picks of the Nets (35-37 last season) and Mavericks (43-32, a first-round exit against the Clippers) appear to be largely based on potential. And yes, there’s some logic to that, especially with the Nets getting Kevin Durant back from injury and with a lot of interest in how they’ll do under new head coach Steve Nash. But this is still quite the makeover compared to last year’s Christmas lineup. If this is in fact the final Christmas schedule, we’ll see how it performs for ESPN.
[Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter]