It’s the biggest day of the NBA regular season: Christmas Day. It’s when the top teams play from noon to night. This year, it will feature the Knicks and 76ers, Celtics and Bucks, a marquee game between the Grizzlies and Warriors. And the Nets who won last year’s big game with a buzzer-beating James Harden-to-Nic Claxton alley-oop will be ... on the road to Cleveland.
Really, the hottest team in the NBA — winners of eight straight, 12 of their last 13, 19 of 26 under Jacque Vaughn — don’t get no respect? Nope and the reasoning is simple; when the NBA’s schedule-makers were putting things together in the summer, the Brooklyn Nets were, in a word, a mess. Kevin Durant had asked for a trade, asked that his head coach and GM be fired and it seemed like the best player in the NBA (do not @ me! I have receipts!) would be playing elsewhere. Not to mention, Kyrie Irving, then in between controversies, appeared like he might be headed to L.A. Ben Simmons was rehabbing from back surgery. Not a lot of marquee potential there.
All of that was eventually resolved in the Nets’ favor, but the NBA doesn’t change the schedule. Its TV rights holders might change games, but the schedule is sacrosanct. The U.S. Postal Service takes more days off for weather than the NBA! Too bad. As our Chris Milholen noted after the Nets dominated the Bucks in Brooklyn...
The NBA is probably not pleased that the Nets aren’t playing on Christmas Day.— Chris Milholen (@CMilholenSB) December 24, 2022
Durant, whose teams have played every Christmas — even if he hasn’t — since 2009, admitted this week that he is the culprit.
“Yeah, I’m probably responsible for us not planning on Christmas with what went on this summer,” Durant acknowledged this week. “But hey, it is what it is. We play on the 26th, that’s close enough.”
So instead of playing, they’ll be flying ... to Cleveland on Christmas night for another big game against the Cavaliers. Ho Ho ... No.
As Brian Lewis writes Saturday, “it’s easy to see why NBA schedule makers passed on putting the Nets on Christmas Day. They couldn’t have foreseen the turnaround that’s taken place.”
It doesn’t matter now of course, but as KD said, there was an obvious big game that could have been.
“Knicks-Nets would’ve been a great Christmas Day matchup,” Durant said. “Especially with how the Knicks are playing and the way we’re playing right now, I feel like that would be the perfect matchup on Christmas. Hopefully, we get that going forward.”
So, we’ll have to wait till next year (or January 28, the next time the two New York teams will battle. It’s Gregg Popovich’s birthday if you’re looking for a holiday.)
So with the day free till the plane departs for Ohio at night, Lewis asked the Nets players what they were doing on Christmas.
“Just be with my girl, man, my girl and my dogs,” Simmons told The Post. “That’s about it. No real plans.
“I mean, I love my job, so [being away from family] comes with it,” Simmons, a native of Melbourne, Australia, said. “And the times you get to play on Christmas Day, those are [huge]. When I was growing up, I used to watch the Christmas Day games, so it’s a lot of fun.”
Edmond Sumner talked about his plans. He’s also for chillin’.
“But our [Sunday night] flight is late, so I get to chill at the crib,” Sumner told Lewis. “It’ll be good just to be able to relax. I’m not going to be able to see my [extended] family, but just chill with the wife.”
Nic Claxton’s family will fly up from South Carolina and Joe Harris’ clan from Florida. Yuta Watanabe said Christmas isn’t a big day in Japan. The big Winter holiday is January 1, New Year’s Day. The Nets don’t play then either but will take on the Spurs at Barclays the next night.
Yes, they (and us) would rather see them in a big holiday game, but as of now, there’s enough Christmas cheer emanating from what’s gone on recently to suffice.
- Kevin Durant is the reason the Nets aren’t playing on Christmas - Brian Lewis - New York Post Sports+