The Top 5 Christmas Day NBA Games Since 2008

A performer in a Santa Claus costume makes a trick dunk during a timeout in the fourth quarter of an NBA basketball game between the Boston Celtics and the Minnesota Timberwolves in Boston, Monday, Dec. 16, 2013.

The NBA released the 2017-18 Christmas Day schedule, and on paper, it’s a full slate of what should be exciting and competitive games.

New York Knicks v Sacramento Kings

So in honor of that release, let’s take a look at five of the best Christmas Day games we’ve seen in the past decade.

2013: Golden State Warriors 105, Los Angeles Clippers 103

This is part of the early stages of the bad blood between the Warriors and Clippers. The game was testy from the start and got worse at the end of the third quarter when Blake Griffin had to be restrained by teammates following a heated exchange with Draymond Green. Following a review, Griffin received a technical and Green was ejected for a flagrant foul 2 after throwing an elbow. Griffin was later ejected after receiving two technical fouls. Chris Paul missed a layup that could’ve tied the score in the final seconds. And the teams had to be separated after the horn. So much for a Merry Christmas.

2016: Cleveland Cavaliers 109, Warriors 108

It was the first time the two teams played since the Cavaliers won their first NBA title the summer before, a series the Warriors thought they should have won. The Warriors were pretty much in control for most of the game. With nine minutes to go, the Warriors led 94-80 and appeared to be pulling away. But the Cavaliers began to chip away as the Warriors had some uncharacteristic turnovers and bad shots. Cleveland won it on a Kyrie Irving 13-footer with three seconds left, bringing back memories of Irving hitting the series-clinching shot to win Game 7 of the previous Finals.

2008: Los Angeles Lakers 92, Boston Celtics 83

Boston began the 2008 season dominating the rest of the NBA. In fact, by the time they were ready to face the Lakers in the rematch of the previous Finals, the defending champs were on a 19-game winning streak. But the Lakers Big 2 of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol outplayed Boston’s Big 3 (Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett) and not only stopped the Celtics streak, but sent them into a tailspin. Gasol scored seven unanswered points, breaking an 81-81 tie and gave the Lakers the lead for good. The Celtics lost seven of their next 10 games. It was Lakers coach Phil Jackson’s 1,000th win as a coach.

2011: Chicago Bulls 88, Lakers 87

The Christmas Day games have been some of the biggest on the NBA’s schedule. This year, because of the lockout, it was opening day. It was a hyped-up game and didn’t disappoint. Kobe Bryant was Kobe Bryant, scoring 28 points and he had a shot to win the game at the buzzer, but his 6-footer was blocked by Luol Deng. Derrick Rose, coming off an MVP season, had 22 points on 9-of-13 shooting and he hit the game winner with four seconds remaining after Deng came up with a Bryant turnover.

2014: Heat 101, Cavaliers 91

On paper, this wasn’t going to be much of a game. Cleveland was barely better than .500 and the Heat came in three games under. But it was LeBron James’ first game in Miami since going back home to Cleveland and that made it noteworthy. The Cavs were favored because Chris Bosh was out with a calf injury. But Dwyane Wade and Luol Deng dominated. Wade had 31 points and Deng had 25 and eight assists and the Heat blew open a close game in the final eight minutes. James did his part with 30, but Cleveland missed too many shots down the stretch.

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