Christmas games in the NBA have long been the most anticipated match-ups. What are the best NBA Christmas games in recent years?

Christmas games in the NBA have been bringing the best and most anticipated games of the season for some time now. This makes December even more festive for basketball fans, who can enjoy the moves of the best in the relatively early hours for European conditions. To raise the anticipation, we’ve searched through the NBA archives to find the best Christmas games in recent years.

Christmas Game 2011 – then reigning MVP Derrick Rose

Derrick Rose was the reigning league MVP and Kobe Bryant was one of the biggest stars in the sport. He appears most often on this list, and their duel was “legendary”. The teams went into the final quarter with a 69-68, one point difference, and a tense finish was predicted. When the Lakers led by 6 points after Bryant’s layup in the last minute of the game, it seemed that the game was over. Luol Deng scored five points in less than half a minute of play and a there was a loose ball on the other end. Derrick Rose took the ball and the Chicago Bulls recorded a Christmas Day victory.

  • Derrick Rose: 22 points, 5 assists
  • Kobe Bryant: 28 points, 7 rebounds, 6 assists

Christmas Game 2016 – Golden State vs. Cleveland

The rivalry created by these two teams over the past decade is forever engraved in history. The 2016 Christmas game was one of the most anticipated NBA games in years. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, trailing 3-1 in the Finals, conjured up the greatest turnaround in basketball history and Cleveland celebrated its first-ever championship title. We (the fans) looked forward to Christmas Day with great anticipation and it did not disappoint. The last two minutes of the game were tense. Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green were defeated.

  • Kevin Durant: 36 points, 15 rebounds, 3 assists
  • LeBron James: 31 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists

Christmas 2008 – Boston and LA rematch

Is there anything this match didn’t have? A repeat of the NBA Finals? YES. The league’s biggest stars? YES – Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce, Pau Gasol, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, etc.

The Lakers entered the game with 23 wins and 5 losses, while Boston, on the other hand, had 27 wins and only 2 losses. They entered Christmas Day with 19 consecutive wins, and this game changed the course of their season.  One of the best games of the Christmas season brought a bad night for one of the best shooters from a distance, Ray Allen. He hit only three of his 11 three-pointers. The victory went to the Purple and Gold team, who also won the championship title this season under the leadership of Phil Jackson. And not to be forgotten, this victory was the 1000th win for the legendary Phil Jackson as a coach in the NBA.

  • Kobe Bryant: 27 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal
  • Kevin Garnett: 22 points, 9 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 1 block

Christmas Game 2004 – Shaq vs. Kobe

After spending eight seasons together and winning three consecutive championships, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant are now facing each other for the first time. Christmas Day brought Miami and Los Angeles together for the first time since Shaq requested a trade from the team. The match-up did not disappoint, as the Heat beat the Lakers by two points, 104-102. This game is considered by many to be the one that set the NBA’s best games on Christmas Day. We are not complaining.

  • Kobe Bryant: 42 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 steal
  • Shaquille O’Neal: 24 points, 11 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 blocks

NBA Christmas games in 2022

This year, we’ll also have some crazy exciting Christmas games to watch. We’ve added a kick-off time to each of them, and with the exception of the last two matches, they’ll all kick off on Christmas Day – 25 December 2022.

  • Philadelphia 76ers : New York Knicks – at 18:00
  • Los Angeles Lakers : Dallas Mavericks – at 20:30
  • Milwaukee Bucks : Boston Celtics – at 23:00
  • Memphis Grizzlies : Golden State Warriors – at 02:00 (on the night of 26.12.)
  • Phoenix Suns : Denver Nuggets – at 04:30 (on the night of 26.12.)


Which NBA Christmas game are you most looking forward to and which one is the most memorable in the past?