The NBA Christmas games are always an exciting time for fans. Maybe you’re opening gifts and spending precious time with family, but throughout the day, you check out a few basketball games. Nothing wrong with that, right? Not at all. 

The NBA Christmas games will be a bit different this year, as some of the league’s best players will be out due to health and safety protocols. But that still doesn’t mean we won’t get competitive games. 

Here are the upcoming Christmas games and what to expect from them. 

1.) New York Knicks vs. Atlanta Hawks

The New York Knicks will start the festivities off as they host the Atlanta Hawks. 

The Knicks and Hawks formed a slight rivalry last season, as they battled in the first round of last year’s playoffs. The Hawks beat the Knicks 4-1 in a season where New York looked promising. The Knicks made the playoffs for the first time since 2013, and it looked like they would advance to the next round. Then, they met Trae Young

Young had an incredible series as he averaged 29.2 points and 9.8 assists. Young became a villain of sorts in New York by hitting a game-winning shot in Game 1 of the series and shushing the Madison Square Garden crowd after. He also took a bow as the Hawks beat the Knicks in Game 5 and closed the series. 

This year, the Knicks and Hawks are towards the bottom of the East and fighting for a playoff spot. But this game could still be exciting. 

As of now, Trae Young will miss this game due to being in the health and safety protocols. His teammates Danilo Gallinari and Clint Capela are in as well. And the Knicks have six players in protocols. 

So, while this may not be the game we were expecting, it still should be a good one. 

2.) Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics

The Milwaukee Bucks will take on the Boston Celtics this year after a blowout win over the Golden State Warriors last year. 

The Bucks are on a two-game losing streak, but with a win over the short-handed Celtics, the Bucks could get back on track. Boston has seven players in COVID-19 protocols, and they recently signed veteran guard/forward Joe Johnson to a 10-day contract. So, it will be interesting to see how he plays. 

Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo entered protocols last week, and as it stands, he’ll be cutting it close to this Christmas game. 

Of course, It would be great to see Antetokounmpo play, but entering protocols on Dec.14 and possibly staying away for 10 days (which will be Christmas Eve), it’s tough to call. 

Regardless, the Bucks and Celtics may be a game to keep an eye on. 

3.) Phoenix Suns vs. Golden State Warriors

The Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors are two of the most exciting teams this season. The Suns went on an unbelievable 18-game winning streak, beating teams like the Nets, Mavericks, the Cavaliers, and more. But their streak came to an end when the Warriors beat them 118-96 on December 3

The Suns and Warriors are the top two teams of the West, and it wouldn’t be surprising if we see them in the Conference Finals. So, this may be a preview of things to come. 

4.) Los Angeles Lakers vs. Brooklyn Nets

Normally, this game would be a marquee matchup. However, several Lakers and Nets players will be missing due to health and safety protocols. Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden are out, and Anthony Davis is out for the Lakers but with an MCL sprain. 

5.) Utah Jazz vs. Dallas Mavericks

The Utah Jazz and the Dallas Mavericks will close out the night in a matchup that highlights some of the league’s best young talent. 

Donovan Mitchell is an exceptional talent that’s helped the Jazz remain a playoff-bound team, and before entering health and safety protocols on Wednesday, Luka Doncic was expected to play. So, while we won’t see the two guards battle, this is still a nice way to end the day.

While Christmas games won’t be the same this year, there is still a chance we’ll see some decent games.

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