Christmas Day has been particularly jolly for Philadelphia 76ers fans the past three years. On December 25, 2017, the Sixers placed another gift under the tree with a 105-98 win over the Knicks. One year later, the Sixers lost to the Celtics, but it was an exciting overtime game that promised good things for the relatively new Jimmy Butler era in Philadelphia. Finally, last year on Christmas, the Sixers absolutely dismantled the Bucks, with Milwaukee racking up garbage-time points so that the 121-109 final score didn’t tell the full story.
Alas, this year, it will be left to the turkey and mistletoe alone to help make the season bright, as for the first time since 2016, Philadelphia will not be playing on Christmas Day. ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski posted the tentative Christmas Day schedule yesterday:
ESPN Sources: Tentative Christmas Day Schedule pic.twitter.com/MId025HKvB— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 2, 2020
Compared to last season’s Christmas Day slate, the teams out are Philadelphia, Toronto, and Houston, replaced by Brooklyn, Miami, and Dallas. The Heat have taken the designated “team coming off a Finals appearance” from the Raptors. Houston is the definition of a team in turmoil, so it makes perfect sense to bring in Dallas, a much more feel-good Texas squad featuring 21-year-old sensation Luka Doncic. Finally, Brooklyn is arguably the biggest story in the league this season with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving returning from injury and the surprise hire of Steve Nash as head coach. As much as we feel the Sixers had a positive offseason, it’s hard to deny the Nets carry a more interesting narrative from a neutral perspective.
For Philadelphia fans, maybe this means we can simply enjoy the holiday without the stresses inherent in any Sixers viewing experience. 2020 has certainly bring stressful enough. Ultimately, I imagine Sixers fans are much more concerned that their team is playing on or around June 25, rather than December 25.