The Knicks will tip off the NBA’s Christmas Day quintupleheader against the 76ers at noon on ESPN, a matchup featuring teams that combined to win only 59 games last season.
Scheduling two teams with records such as those is out of the ordinary for Christmas, which usually features the league’s top teams. The more predictable matchup will come on ABC at 3 p.m., when the Cavaliers visit the Warriors in a game featuring the teams that have met in the past three NBA Finals.
That game will be the first of three on ABC, with the Celtics and Wizards playing at 5:30 p.m. and the Thunder and Rockets meeting at 8. TNT will host the final game of the night when the Lakers host the Timberwolves at 10:30.
In addition to the basketball slate, ESPN will carry a “Monday Night Football” game between the Eagles and Raiders. It will be the first time since 2006 that the NBA Christmas games and “Monday Night Football” come on the same day.
Why the Knicks and Sixers? Apparently there was enough intrigue surrounding the young 76ers, including No. 1 overall draft pick Markelle Fultz, to justify the matchup. Meanwhile, the Knicks have played more games on Christmas Day than any other team, going 22-29 all-time and holding the records for most Christmas wins and losses. After not playing on the holiday in 2015, they faced the Boston Celtics at home last season, falling 119-114.
In its news release, ESPN mentioned Carmelo Anthony as one of the Knicks’ attractions. We shall see about that.
The NBA also announced the television schedule for the opening week of the season. The Knicks will open on national television, visiting the Oklahoma City Thunder on TNT on Oct. 19.