AP source: Grizzlies online for Game 1 at Christmas

Merry Christmas, Memphis. The Grizzlies are in line to be part of this holiday’s NBA showcase for the first time.

Ja Morant and the Grizzlies will face Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and the rest of the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors on Dec. 25 in San Francisco, according to a person with knowledge of the league’s scheduling plans. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Monday because the league does not plan to release the full season schedule until later this week.

Given that the league hasn’t announced the final slate for the 1,230-game season, there’s always the possibility that the Christmas schedule will change – although such a move is unlikely.

The Grizzlies were one of two current NBA franchises yet to play on Dec. 25. The Charlotte Hornets are now the only club still waiting for their first Christmas invitation.

The rest of the Christmas schedule, the person said, will see Philadelphia take on New York, Milwaukee take on Boston, the Los Angeles Lakers play Dallas and Phoenix take on two-time defending MVP Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets.

If the Lakers’ LeBron James — the all-time leading Christmas scorer, who enters the season 1,325 points behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most in NBA history — appears in that Dec. 25 game against the Mavericks, this will be his 17th time to play while on vacation. That would break a tie with Lakers great Kobe Bryant for the most ever.

Golden State and Memphis met in the second round of last season’s playoffs, as did Milwaukee and Boston.

This will be the fifth year in a row that Christmas — again, barring a late change — does not feature an NBA Finals rematch. Golden State edged Boston for the championship last season; there hasn’t been a Finals rematch on Dec. 25 since the Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers played the 2017-18 season, en route to a fourth straight meeting in the title series.

Notably absent from the Christmas schedule: Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets. Durant told the Nets in June he wanted a trade elsewhere, reiterating that request earlier this month.

Dallas will host a Christmas game for the second time. The other was in 2011, after the Mavericks topped the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals the previous season. James and the Heat ruined this first game of the season for the Mavericks, winning 105-94.

The Lakers will play Christmas for the 24th straight year, by far the longest streak in the league. Golden State will make its 10th straight Christmas appearance, Boston its seventh straight and Milwaukee its fifth straight on Dec. 25.

New York is playing Christmas for the 55th time, extending its record.

Of the eight teams that reached the conference semifinals last season, seven are on this year’s Christmas schedule. The exception is Miami, the No. 1 seed in the East last season who fell to Boston in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals.

With Memphis now getting a Dec. 25 game, the longest Christmas droughts outside of Charlotte now belong to Sacramento (last Christmas game in 2003), Indiana (2004), Detroit (2005), and Orlando (2011).

The NBA season opens on October 18. The training camps open at the end of September.


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