When it comes to watching TV over holiday break, most Americans think of football bowl games, and parades. However, those in the know tune in for basketball on Christmas Day, and the NHL Winter Classic on New Year's Day. The Christmas Day NBA game tradition dates all the way back to the league’s second season in 1947, while the NHL Winter Classic is a newer tradition, starting in 2008. So, let Xfinity help you honor these holiday traditions, and get in on the action. Here’s how to watch.
Christmas Day: NBA Games
The Christmas Day lineup this year features some compelling matchups, including a primetime clash between the Lakers and the defending champion Warriors. This will be the fourth year in a row that LeBron will face Steph Curry and company on Christmas Day ― he did it the last three years with Cleveland. Also, the Houston Rockets (the team with the best record last regular season) host Russell Westbrook and his powerful OKC Thunder, and the 76ers travel to Boston to play the Celtics. Here’s a look at all five of this year’s Christmas Day games.
Milwaukee Bucks at New York Knicks
When to watch: 12 p.m. ET on ESPN
The Bucks rely heavily on their superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, also known as the “Greek Freak.” The Knicks have been struggling this season, and it’s going to take a full-blown team effort to slow down Antetokounmpo, especially if their own star young player, Kristaps Porzingis, hasn’t returned from his season-ending ACL surgery last year.
Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets
When to watch: 3 p.m. ET on ABC
The Rockets may have had the best regular season record last year, but they have not lived up to expectations so far in 2018, with a won/loss record hovering around .500. The Thunder, on the other hand, have been a top five team in the Western Conference, and they boast a stout defense — one that held the Rockets to shooting less than 38% from the field in their last meeting. Houston’s strong offense will need to do better this time around.
Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics
When to watch: 5:30 p.m. ET on ABC
The Sixers and the Celtics are both top five teams in the Eastern Conference, and both teams remember how Boston knocked Philly out of the playoffs last year in five games in the Eastern Conference semifinals. This rivalry game features last year’s rookie of the year, Ben Simmons of the 76ers, and runner-up Jayson Tatum of Boston. Tune in to see if Simmons and his team can exact revenge from last year’s playoffs.
Los Angeles Lakers at Golden State Warriors
When to watch: 8 p.m. ET on ABC/ESPN
The Warriors are the NBA’s true super team, boasting the likes of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. But the Lakers have an ace in the hole this year with the addition of LeBron James, after his offseason defection from his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers. Both teams are in the thick of things at the top of the Western Conference, and this should be an exciting primetime showdown.
Portland Trail Blazers at Utah Jazz
When to watch: 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN
With both teams settled in around .500 in the Western Conference, this matchup could be the game that jump starts one of them into a strong run in the new year. The Jazz and their young star, Donovan Mitchell, have been struggling lately, but look for them to bring everything they have against a slumping Portland team.
New Year’s Day: The NHL Winter Classic
Boston Bruins vs. Chicago Blackhawks
When to watch: 1 p.m. ET on NBC
The 2019 NHL Winter Classic features two celebrated and historic franchises, the Boston Bruins and the Chicago Blackhawks. The game will be played in an equally historic and celebrated venue, Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana.
The Blackhawks are led by the superstar core of Jonathan Toews, Corey Crawford, Patrick Kane, and Duncan Keith, all of whom were on the team during their run of winning three Stanley Cup Championships in five years. This will be Chicago’s fourth appearance in the Winter Classic. All three previous appearances, in 2009, 2015, and 2017 were losses for the Blackhawks, and they hope to turn things around this year at Notre Dame.
The Bruins are 1-1 in their two Winter Classic appearances, both of which were played in the Boston area. They claimed a 2-1 overtime victory against the Philadelphia Flyers at Fenway Park in 2010 and lost 5-1 to the Montreal Canadiens in 2016 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough. Bruins rookie Anders Bjork returns to the campus of Notre Dame, where he was an All American in 2017.
Grammy-award winning band Weezer will headline the musical portion of the event, which has become a must-watch New Year’s Day tradition for all hockey fans. Notre Dame Stadium boasts a seating capacity of 80,000, meaning it will likely be the largest live crowd either team has played in front of.