We as a society have made undeniable progress against the stigmatization of watching sports on family holidays. Look no further than this Christmas, which offers a full slate of five NBA and two NFL contests.
But unfortunately, some still feel it’s “inappropriate” to enjoy 12 hours of wall-to-wall sports action on the Christ child’s birthday (the real war on Christmas). Sadly, as long as these social pressures persist, you’ll have to make some tough choices.
So I’m here to be an ally for you, the persecuted sports fan. Here’s a definitive ranking of the Christmas games (worst to best) that you can use to navigate the day:
7. Clippers @ Lakers, 10:30 p.m. EST – After a hot start, the Lakers have spiraled with 12 L’s in their last 13, while the Clips remain a perpetual fringe Finals contender that feels one piece short yet again. The late start and high blowout probability make this the most expendable game of the day, easily.
6. Timberwolves @ Thunder, 8 p.m. EST – Karl Anthony-Towns and Russ Westbrook are two of the most singularly electric guys in the league. It’s worth briefly tuning in just for them, if possible. But anything impressive that either does is also immediately Vine’d into oblivion by basketball Twitter, their teams kind of suck, and this goes up against another game I’ll get to shortly…
5. Bulls @ Spurs, 5 p.m. EST – Inspired by Tim Duncan’s retirement, the Spurs (23-6) continue to dominate in the most boring way possible. Meanwhile, Chicago has a legit star in Jimmy Butler and an inconsistent mess everywhere else, which I guess can be intriguing. Since this one is right in the dinner window, though, you can comfortably tune for the 1st and 4th quarters and not miss much.
4. Celtics @ Knicks, noon EST – This classic NBA rivalry offers you an early escape from family at the ideal moment. All the gifts have been opened and now, instead of getting dragged into food preparation or small talk, you can sneak away to enjoy some bonus presents: Isaiah Thomas’ little man swag, Kristaps defying the physics of being a 7-footer, and Joakim Noah’s jump shot.
3. Ravens @ Steelers, 4:30 EST – Did you know there’s no love lost between these two teams? No one ever mentions it, but these teams don’t like each and have never liked each other. Gone are the days of Hines Ward crack-back blocks or Ray Lewis headhunting over the middle, but the AFC North is still on the line. This figures to be a good one. Gritty, blue collar, lunch pail football – the kind Joseph the Carpenter would’ve appreciated.
2. Broncos @ Chiefs, 8:30 p.m. EST – Apologies to Thunder-Wolves, but… Sunday Night Football, on Christmas, at Arrowhead Stadium, with huge playoff implications? And no one in K.C. has work the next day? Yeah, Chiefs fans will be sauced and absolutely raucous. Plus it’s a rematch of a 30-27 OT thriller on Nov. 27 in Denver. This would be the marquee matchup on any other day, except…
1. Warriors @ Cavs, 2:30 p.m. EST –This has all the potential to be a massive letdown, but I’m buying the hype. KD vs. LeBron. Steph vs. Kyrie. Draymond vs. the ghosts of groin kicks past. And something tells me alpha dog ‘Bron is showing up this Christmas, with a point to prove to the Dubs that you can form the super-est team you want; the belt still resides in northeast Ohio.