In one of the easiest scheduling decisions for the upcoming year, the NBA will reportedly stage an NBA Finals rematch between the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers on Christmas Day.
Christmas Day has become one of the biggest dates on the NBA calendar. For the most part, the league reserves the year's most anticipated matchups for the holiday. With the Warriors and Cavaliers having clashed in each of the past two NBA Finals, pitting them against one another on Christmas Day makes sense, even if it's happening for the second year in a row.
The Oklahoma City Thunder were the only other logical opponent for Golden State on Christmas. Kevin Durant's return to Oklahoma City as a member of the visiting team will be one of the biggest games in the 2016-17 regular season.
According to Stein, the Thunder are tentatively slated to play the Warriors at home on Feb. 11, and Durant's first game against Oklahoma City will be on Nov. 3 in Oakland, California.
The San Jose Mercury News' Anthony Slater argued a February date would be better for Thunder-Warriors than Christmas:
The Cavaliers and Warriors tussled last Christmas, with Golden State picking up an 89-83 win at home. In their postmortem of David Blatt's firing, ESPN.com's Brian Windhorst and Dave McMenamin wrote in January that that defeat led Cavs players to once again question Blatt's coaching. Cleveland fired him less than a month later.
The circumstances will be far different this year. The Cavaliers are the defending champions, having become the first team in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 deficit in the Finals. While Golden State will be itching for revenge on Dec. 25, Cleveland will want to prove its title win was no fluke and that the Warriors' addition of Durant didn't tip the scales in their favor should the two teams meet in the Finals for a third straight year.