The 2022-23 NBA schedule is expected to be released in the coming days, but there’s already been several leaks of important games on the league’s calendar. It’s already been reported the reigning champion Golden State Warriors are expected to host LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers on opening night of the season, which is set for Oct. 18.
In addition to one of the opening-night games on the league’s calendar, all five Christmas Day matchups have also been reported. As one of the most important days on the NBA‘s calendar, these games are typically star-studded and sometimes feature rematches from the previous year’s playoffs or pit two of the league’s top stars against each other. Though the regular season will already be two months old by the time Christmas rolls around, the full slate of games also serves as the unofficial start of the NBA season for some casual fans.
Although nothing has been made official just yet, here are the five games expected to take place on Christmas:
- Golden State Warriors vs. Memphis Grizzlies
- Dallas Mavericks vs. Los Angeles Lakers
- Denver Nuggets vs. Phoenix Suns
- New York Knicks vs. Philadelphia 76ers
- Boston Celtics vs. Milwaukee Bucks
The NBA has certainly hit the mark in featuring some of the league’s top stars, both young and old, and all of these reported matchups have enticing storylines.
The Warriors vs. Grizzlies game will be a rematch of the Western Conference semifinals last season, where both teams didn’t shy away from trash-talking, even well after the Warriors put the Grizzlies away. When the Warriors eventually won the championship, several Golden State players made sure to take some not-so-subtle jabs at the Grizzlies, including Draymond Green and Ja Morant hoping their two teams meet on Christmas Day. Well, Green and Morant got their wish, and that matchup will surely be a highly anticipated one.
Though the Lakers and Mavericks don’t have the playful trash-talking the Warriors and Grizzlies possess, it will feature the face of the league in LeBron James, and one of the future faces of the league in Luka Doncic. These two teams met on Christmas two seasons ago, which resulted in the Mavericks getting blown out in Los Angeles, but a lot has happened since that dud of a matchup in 2020. The Mavericks are coming off a run to the Western Conference finals due to Doncic’s MVP-level performance throughout the playoffs, and the Lakers will be trying to get back to the playoffs after missing the cut last season. It’s difficult to read how this game will play out given both teams could still make roster moves before this game, but it should be more entertaining than the matchup we got two seasons ago.
The third reported game on this list may be a preview of the Western Conference finals as the Nuggets play host to the Suns. Denver should be fully healthy with Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. expected to be back in the starting lineup after both players missed all of last season with injuries. Then there’s reigning two-time league MVP Nikola Jokic at the center of it all. He will have some help again as Denver hopes to prove its place in the championship-contending conversation. The Nuggets will reportedly be hosting the Suns, per the Denver Post, which is a rematch of the Western Conference semifinals from two seasons ago. The Nuggets were without Murray in that playoff series against the Suns, so now they’ll get to show Phoenix what it’s like playing against a Denver team at full strength.
The Knicks and Sixers matchup may not be the most exciting matchup on this list, but it does feature some of the league’s best players in Joel Embiid and James Harden. Though the Knicks don’t have the brightest names on their roster to match up against Embiid and Harden, it’ll be a good test for a New York team that hopes its big offseason acquisition of Jalen Brunson can lift this roster to a playoff contender.
The final reported matchup between the Celtics and Bucks is a rematch of the Eastern Conference semifinals from last season. In what was one of the best playoff series a season ago, the Bucks lost to the Celtics in seven games, all without their second-best player in Khris Middleton who suffered an MCL sprain in the first round of the postseason. Middleton recently underwent wrist surgery in July, but is expected back near the start of the season, so he will be ready to go by the time this rematch is set to take place. However, this matchup could look a whole lot different if the Celtics manage to pull off a trade to land Brooklyn Nets star Kevin Durant. We’ll have to wait and see what becomes of the Durant sweepstakes, but regardless of what happens with that, this matchup — as well as the rest on the full slate of games — won’t be short on excitement on Christmas Day.