For the first time ever the Memphis Grizzlies appear to be part of the ESPN/ABC Christmas Day lineup of games. Marc Stein reports it will be the big draw of Ja Morant, who tweeted that he wanted this matchup, taking on the rival Golden State Warriors.
Listen to the Christmas Day featured game and all the games in '22-'23 on 92.9 FM ESPN, Memphis' Flagship Home of the Grizzlies.
Merry Christmas, Memphis. The Grizzlies are in line to be part of that holiday’s NBA showcase for the first time.
Ja 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 scheduling plans. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because the league is not planning to release the season's full schedule until later this week.
Given that the league has not announced the final 1,230-game season slate, it is still possible that the Christmas schedule could change — though such a move is unlikely.
The Grizzlies were one of two current NBA franchises yet to have a game on Dec. 25. The Charlotte Hornets are now the only club still waiting for its first Christmas schedule invite.
The rest of the Christmas schedule, the person said, will have Philadelphia facing New York, Milwaukee meeting Boston, the Los Angeles Lakers playing against Dallas and Phoenix going up against two-time reigning MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets.
If the Lakers’ LeBron James — the all-time Christmas scoring leader, who enters the season 1,325 points behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most in NBA history — appears in that Dec. 25 game against the Mavericks, it’ll be his 17th time playing on the holiday. That would break a tie with Lakers great Kobe Bryant for the most ever.
Golden State and Memphis met in the second round of last season’s playoffs, as did Milwaukee and Boston.
This will mark the fifth consecutive year that Christmas — again, barring a late change — does not feature a rematch of the NBA Finals. Golden State topped Boston for this past season’s championship; there hasn’t been a finals rematch on Dec. 25 since the Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers played in the 2017-18 season, on their way to a fourth consecutive meeting in the title series.
Noticeably absent from the Christmas schedule: Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets. Durant told the Nets in June that he wants a trade elsewhere, reiterating that request earlier this month.
Dallas will play host to a Christmas game for the second time. The other was in 2011, after the Mavericks topped the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals the previous season. James and the Heat spoiled that season opener for the Mavericks, winning 105-94.
The Lakers will be playing on Christmas for the 24th consecutive year, by far the longest stretch in the league. Golden State will make its 10th consecutive Christmas appearance, Boston its seventh in a row and Milwaukee its fifth straight on Dec. 25.
New York is playing on Christmas for the 55th time, extending its record.
Of the eight teams that made the conference semifinals this past season, seven appear on this year’s Christmas schedule. The exception is Miami, the No. 1 seed in the East last season that fell to Boston in seven games in the Eastern Conference finals.
With Memphis now getting a Dec. 25 game, the longest Christmas droughts besides Charlotte now belong to Sacramento (last Christmas game in 2003), Indiana (2004), Detroit (2005) and Orlando (2011).
The NBA season opens Oct. 18. Training camps open in late September.