It's time to start your Christmas planning.
If you're an NBA fan, that is.
The Association released its schedule for the 2022-23 season on Wednesday, and, as usual, the holiday period is filled with high-profile games featuring some of the league's biggest stars. That's not all, as an Opening Night doubleheader on TNT pitting the Boston Celtics against the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers against the Golden State Warriors stands out as well.
What's more, the NBA will continue celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day with a slate of games.
The NBA has hosted games on the day recognizing the civil rights leader since it was established as a national holiday in 1986, and this season will be no different with the Atlanta Hawks and Memphis Grizzlies each hosting games in the cities where Dr. King was born and assassinated.
Here is a look at the full schedule of the holiday games, as well as some notable matchups during the NBA's opening week.
Best Games of Opening Week
- Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State Warriors, 10 p.m. ET
- Dallas Mavericks at Phoenix Suns, 10 p.m. ET
- Milwaukee Bucks at Philadelphia 76ers, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Los Angeles Clippers at Los Angeles Lakers, 10 p.m. ET
- Boston Celtics at Miami Heat, 7:30 p.m. ET
- Denver Nuggets at Golden State Warriors, 10 p.m. ET
- Memphis Grizzlies at Dallas Mavericks, 8:30 p.m. ET
- Philadelphia 76ers at New York Knicks, 12 p.m. ET
- Los Angeles Lakers at Dallas Mavericks, 2:30 p.m. ET
- Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics, 5 p.m. ET
- Memphis Grizzlies at Golden State Warriors, 8 p.m. ET
- Phoenix Suns at Denver Nuggets, 10:30 p.m. ET
Martin Luther King Jr. Day Schedule
- Boston Celtics at Charlotte Hornets, 1 p.m. ET
- Indiana Pacers at Milwaukee Bucks, 2:30 p.m. ET
- New Orleans Pelicans at Cleveland Cavaliers, 3 p.m. ET
- Toronto Raptors at New York Knicks, 3 p.m. ET
- Golden State Warriors at Washington Wizards, 3 p.m. ET
- Miami Heat at Atlanta Hawks, 3:30 p.m. ET
- Utah Jazz at Minnesota Timberwolves, 4 p.m. ET
- Phoenix Suns at Memphis Grizzlies, 6 p.m. ET
- Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers, 10:30 p.m. ET
You want star power for Christmas? Look no further than the five NBA games that will take center stage that day.
Second-round playoff rematches will be one of the themes, as the Celtics face the Milwaukee Bucks on the Eastern Conference side of things, while the Warriors play the Memphis Grizzlies in the West.
Boston's second-round clash with the Bucks was arguably the best series of the entire playoffs with Milwaukee seizing a 3-2 lead even though Khris Middleton was sidelined and the Celtics battled back to take the final two.
Jayson Tatum dropped 46 points on the road in Game 6, which was necessary because Giannis Antetokounmpo averaged 33.9 points, 14.7 rebounds, 7.1 assists, 1.1 blocks and 1.0 steals per game throughout a brilliant individual series.
The second-round matchup with the Warriors and Grizzlies didn't go seven games, but there were plenty of storylines throughout Golden State's six-game victory.
The idea of players breaking the code became the dominant storyline after Dillon Brooks' hard foul on Gary Payton II broke the latter's elbow and Warriors head coach Steve Kerr called him out for it in postgame comments.
It was a physical series with Ja Morant also suffering an injury, and there will likely be no shortage of trash talking between the budding rivals.
Elsewhere, the New York Knicks would surely love to be a part of a physical playoff series after missing the postseason in eight of the last nine campaigns. They will have a chance to earn a statement win against a supposed title contender in the 76ers on Christmas Day.
James Harden is already excited about it:
The Knicks and 76ers split their four matchups last season, but Joel Embiid was not on the court for one of Philadelphia's losses. He likely will be on Christmas, making the task of defending home court all the more daunting for a New York team hoping the addition of Jalen Brunson helps it climb the Eastern Conference standings.
Embiid's trip to Madison Square Garden isn't the only place NBA fans can watch a likely MVP candidate on December 25.
Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets host the Phoenix Suns in a potential playoff preview. The Serb took home the last two MVP awards, and the Nuggets could be better positioned for a postseason run in 2022-23 if Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. are back and healthy.
Murray didn't play at all in 2021-22, while Porter played just nine games. That left much of the offensive onus on Jokic's shoulders, which cannot be the case again if Denver is going to compete with the top teams in the Western Conference.
Phoenix is one of those teams after finishing with the league's best record last season, so this could be a measuring-stick game for a revamped Nuggets squad.
Speaking of measuring-stick games, matchups against the Lakers almost always fit into that category for Western Conference teams.
Yet this season's Christmas Day showdown between the Purple and Gold and the Dallas Mavericks may be more of a measuring stick for Los Angeles. After all, LeBron James and Co. didn't even qualify for the play-in tournament, while the Mavericks reached the Western Conference Finals.
Dallas may also have the best player in this game in Luka Doncic even with the presence of James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook.
In theory, the Lakers are in championship-or-bust mode with that trio back even after last season's disappointment. Yet they are going to need to figure out a way to surpass teams like Dallas in the Western Conference standings if that is going to become a reality.
Christmas Day will give them a chance to prove they can do just that.