Why Celtics/Knicks Is the Perfect Christmas Day Game

Dec 27, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder (99) guards New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) during the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 27, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder (99) guards New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) during the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Celtics and New York Knicks will be playing on Christmas Day

Christmas Day is a time for family, presents and food, and also basketball. The past two years Boston has been deprived of watching the Celtics on Christmas Day, with 2012 being the last time the Boston Celtics played on Christmas. The two-year drought will finally come to an end, and it couldn’t have come against a better opponent.

Despite finishing 16 games apart last season, the Celtics and New York Knicks should be a much more competitive match-up this season. The Knicks went all-in this season after going just 32-50 a season ago. They added former-MVP Derrick Rose, center Joakim Noah and Courtney Lee to their starting lineup. With Carmelo Anthony and Kristaps Porzingis on the team as well, the Knicks have a solid shot at being playoff bound this season.

Whether the Knicks are good or bad they’re almost always playing on Christmas. They have a record 50 Christmas Day games to their franchise. Just like certain teams in the NFL always play on Thanksgiving, the Knicks are the NBA’s Christmas Day team. They come from a big market, will have fans in Madison Square Garden no matter the day or their record, and fans across the country will tune in to watch Carmelo Anthony or whoever the Knicks are taking on.

Pairing them with a sizable market in Boston, who won 48-games last season, makes this one of the more intriguing 12PM ET games the NBA has put on in recent years. Usually the earliest game is seen as a warmup to the rest of the day. It’s not going to garner the highest ratings or be the best play, but it’s still basketball, and people love the idea of watching the NBA all day long.

Despite the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers tipping off right after, and the Chicago Bulls and San Antonio Spurs starting later in the day, there should be plenty of intrigue surrounding this game.

For one, the Celtics are still somewhat unknown throughout the rest of the league’s fanbases. The last we saw of the Brad Stevens‘ led team was an embarrassing series defeat to the Atlanta Hawks. While that series doesn’t do justice to how they played and fared in the regular season, for a team who rarely saw time on national TV last season, it was one of the rare glimpses fans had of the post-Big Three era.

Even though Boston has 22 nationally televised games this season, the aurora around this non-rebuilding Celtics team will still be at a high. Not to mention that new center Al Horford will also garner attention as Boston now has the star power to attract viewers.

Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports /

Sure, Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley are all nice players, although they aren’t household names like Horford. Now, some fans may tune in just to watch Isaiah Thomas hit a circus shot in the lane over a defender a foot taller than him, but for the most part these three players aren’t seen as flashy players you must watch.

Plus, the interest in seeing how Horford fits into the Celtics’ system will be high. Fans will be interested to see if Horford is the difference maker that people are making him out to be this summer, or if Boston still doesn’t pose much of a threat to Cleveland this season.

Even with two All-Stars last year on the Celtics, the stardom of Melo outshines both. There aren’t many more recognizable players in the league than him. As he leads Team USA in the Olympics, Anthony and the Knicks are expected to be a hot ticket this upcoming season. New York still isn’t considered a top team in the East, despite what Derrick Rose believes, but this does make them much more intriguing and entertaining.

Seeing how all these new pieces come into play will be on full display come December 25. For regular NBA fans, watching every nationally televised game isn’t an option. Therefore, sitting down and watching a game like this, where two teams made drastic moves this summer, could be one of the first times someone is able to witness how the offseason moves impacted each team.

Not to mention this game could be an important game in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The Knicks are supposed to be a much better team this season. Competing with the Celtics and Toronto Raptors in the Atlantic Division doesn’t seem likely, although it’s also not out of the realm of possibility.

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If the Knicks figured out how to work together and got on a roll, this game could be huge in the Atlantic Division picture. Even if they’re not close in the standings, the Knicks will be trying to fight into the playoffs while the Celtics don’t want to fall lower than the two seed this season. While both are very different scenarios, each takes a game-by-game approach all season where neither can fall too far behind. That makes this game, or a random game in February, even that more important.

In the end, it’s the early game on Christmas. It’s when people are getting ready for families to come over, or when kids are opening presents. Usually in my household, we turn down the volume for the first half of the 12PM ET game to open presents. Although, usually the early game isn’t as intriguing as this match-up.

It’s not an NBA Finals rematch, but it is two in-division rivals who don’t want to surrender any games this season. It has intriguing new rosters, stardom and history as both franchises are two of the most storied franchises in NBA history.

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For a game that is supposed to get the worst ratings of the day, it should exceed nearly any other 12PM ET Christmas Day game in recent memory. Having this game on this early really highlights the strong slate of games the NBA is showing this year because the potential quality of play paired with stardom and intensity is something not seen in every game during the regular season, let alone in the afternoon in the middle of December.