The best and most surprising NBA Christmas Day matchups

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What are the best NBA Christmas Day games this year?

The full 2019-20 NBA schedule will be revealed during The Jump on Monday (3 p.m. ET on ESPN), but we already have the matchups for the biggest day of the regular season.

The 2019 slate will feature plenty of star power and revamped rosters, including Anthony Davis and LeBron James vs. Paul George and Kawhi Leonard. The five games:

Los Angeles Lakers vs. LA Clippers

Houston Rockets @ Golden State Warriors

Milwaukee Bucks @ Philadelphia 76ers

Boston Celtics @ Toronto Raptors

New Orleans Pelicans @ Denver Nuggets

Our NBA experts answer the big questions about the five matchups, identify the biggest surprises and make bold predictions about the games and the teams involved.


Which Christmas Day game are you most excited to watch?

Tim Bontemps: Bucks-Sixers — and, to me, it isn’t close. While the Western Conference next season is going to be a dogfight, Milwaukee and Philadelphia are the massive favorites to finish atop the East. They appear destined for a showdown in the conference finals. Combine that with the fact that both teams have young superstars (Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee, and Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons in Philadelphia) who could be playing against one another for years to come, and this could be the start of an annual Christmas tradition. Sign me up for that.

Bobby Marks: Pelicans-Nuggets. Understandably, everyone will be focused on Los Angeles, but I am taking one of the best teams in the West (Denver) versus Zion Williamson and a New Orleans squad that could contend for one of the final playoff spots.

Malika Andrews: The Battle of Los Angeles. This could be the first time we see the new-look Clippers take on the AD/LeBron Lakers. Just one game likely won’t dictate if the Clippers can become the new kings of L.A., but it will be fun nonetheless.

Kevin Pelton: Bucks-Sixers. Obviously, all eyes will be on the Staples Center co-tenants who will square off against each other. Given the depth of contenders in the West, however, I think it’s more likely that Milwaukee and Philadelphia will be a preview of a playoff series — specifically, the most likely outcome for the conference finals at this point. These teams played a thriller in April on TNT won by the Bucks, but the Raptors denied us a meeting in last year’s playoffs, so we haven’t seen them square off since.


Which of the 10 teams are you most surprised to see included?

Marks: Toronto. Despite winning the NBA championship last year, the inclusion of the Raptors feels a year late and almost like a makeup for previous Christmas Day omissions. Toronto should be a playoff team if the roster stays intact but certainly not one of the top 10 teams in the NBA — let alone top four in the East.

Pelton: Denver. The Pelicans are the odd team out, as they’re more likely to miss the playoffs than make t

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