Christmas is always one of the NBA's showcase days, and this year is no exception. Take a look at some of the exciting December 25 matchups:
Preview of Christmas games
Boston Celtics at New York Knicks, noon ET, ESPN
Boston's Isaiah Thomas, who ranks seventh in the NBA in scoring at 26.6 points per game, is second in the league in fourth-quarter scoring (8.1), behind Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (9.8). Thomas has scored at least 20 points in each of his last 12 games, the longest active streak in the league.
New York's Carmelo Anthony (23,112) needs 38 points to pass Elgin Baylor (23,149) for 28th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers, 2:30 p.m. ET, ABC
The Warriors have climbed to second in the NBA in defensive rating – allowing 100.8 points per 100 possessions – which matches their No. 2 ranking in offensive rating. Golden State has held each of its last three opponents to 90 points or fewer.
Cleveland's Kyrie Irving set a career high with 13 assists in Wednesday’s victory over Milwaukee, which came four days after he had equaled his previous career high of 12 assists in a win against the Lakers. Irving has also scored at least 20 points in 15 of his last 16 games and in a team-high 22 games overall.
Chicago Bulls at San Antonio Spurs, 5 p.m. ET, ABC
San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard has scored at least 30 points seven times in 28 games this season. He entered the year with four 30-point games in 324 career appearances.
Minnesota Timberwolves at Oklahoma City Thunder, 8 p.m. ET, ESPN
The Timberwolves are attempting to become the first team in NBA history to have three players – Karl-Anthony Towns (22.1 ppg), Andrew Wiggins (21.9) and Zach LaVine (20.7) – who were under the age of 22 at the start of the season each average at least 20 points for the season.
Oklahoma City's Enes Kanter (12.6 ppg) ranks third on the team in scoring despite placing seventh in minutes per game (19.4). Kanter’s seven double-doubles are good for second on the Thunder behind Russell Westbrook, who is tied for the league lead with 23.
LA Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers, 10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
The Clippers' Chris Paul (7,970) needs 18 assists to pass Rod Strickland (7,987) for 10th place on the NBA’s career list. Paul is 30 assists from 8,000 for his career.
Earlier this month, the Lakers' Lou Williams had the highest-scoring four-game stretch for a bench player (137 points) since at least the 1970-71 season. For the season, the 30-year-old guard leads the Lakers in scoring with a career-high 18.8 points, coming off the bench in all 31 appearances.
50-Point Games: Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins (55 points vs. Portland on Tuesday) is already the fifth player with a 50-point game in 2016-17, joining Golden State’s Klay Thompson, Washington’s John Wall, Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook and New Orleans’ Anthony Davis. The NBA record for most players with 50-point games in a season is eight, set in 1989-90.
Tyler Johnson, Heat: He scored 32 points in Tuesday’s double-overtime loss to Orlando, the highest total for a Miami reserve in franchise history. His 13.4 points per game is the second-highest scoring average among players with no starts this season.
Deron Williams, Mavericks: Williams, who recently passed Derek Harper for 21st place on the NBA’s career assists list, is averaging 19.8 points (on 53.6 percent shooting) and 6.8 assists in his last four games.
Shaquille O’Neal: Miami will retire Shaq’s No. 32 jersey at halftime of tonight’s game against the Lakers (8 p.m. ET, TNT), while the Lakers announced this week that they will unveil a bronze statue of the Hall of Fame center at Staples Center on March 24, 2017.
Dennis Schröder, Hawks: In his last 12 games, the 23-year-old guard from Germany is averaging 21.8 points (on 53.1 percent shooting) and 7.6 assists.
Nikola Jokic, Nuggets: The second-year center’s run of six double-doubles in his last 10 games includes a 27-point, 15-rebound, nine-assist performance against Dallas on Monday, making him the first Denver player to reach those three totals in a game since Fat Lever in 1988.
Myles Turner, Pacers: The second-year center has scored in double figures in nine consecutive games, averaging 18.0 points while shooting 55.2 percent from the field.
Marc Gasol, Grizzlies: He scored a career-high 38 points and made 14-of-17 shots (82.4 percent) from the field in Wednesday’s victory against Detroit, becoming the first Grizzlies player to score 38 points or more while shooting at least 80 percent in a game since Shareef Abdur-Rahim on Jan. 7, 2001. Gasol raised his scoring average to a career-high 20.1 points.
Evan Fournier, Magic: In his last six games, Fournier is averaging 22.2 points and shooting 52.0 percent from the field.
Hall of Fame Class of 2017 Candidates: Muggsy Bogues, Tracy McGrady, Ben Wallace and former NBA referees Sid Borgia and Jake O’Donnell are among the first-time nominees for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
Raptors 905: The 905 set a single-game NBA D-League attendance record on Tuesday by drawing 15,011 fans at Air Canada Centre, home to the team’s parent club.
Pierre Jackson, Texas Legends: Since joining the Legends on Nov. 30, the 25-year-old guard has averaged a league-leading 29.9 points in nine games. In 2013-14, Jackson led the NBA D-League in scoring with 29.1 points.
Cavs guard J.R. Smith out for three months
Cleveland Cavalier guard J.R. Smith had surgery to repair a complex fracture of his right thumb, and will be out for approximately 12-14 weeks. The injury is a significant blow to the Cavs, as Smith is one of the team's best three-point shooters and has emerged as a surprisingly reliable defender
Jon Krawczynski, Associated Press: “The NBA has taken over Christmas Day, owning the holiday from the afternoon well into the night.”
Jonah Engel Bromwich, New York Times: “It’s the last two N.B.A. champions. They’re meeting for the first time this season. … Thank you, Santa. This is exactly what we wanted.”
Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: “The pair of forwards [Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker] … are the bookends, the cornerstones of this Milwaukee team. Born 99 days apart, and worlds away from each other in the winter of 1994-95, the two already are deserving of All-Star consideration.”
By Staff of TheDailySportsHerald.com and news services