Seven of the top eight teams in our power rankings will play on Christmas this year.
The lone exception: Toronto.
Even after winning 59 games last season and trading for Kawhi Leonard, the Raptors didn’t get the nod for the NBA’s premier regular-season date. With the Bucks playing this year, Toronto’s Christmas-game drought (since 2001) is topped by just the Hawks (1989), Jazz (1997), Hornets (never) and Grizzlies (never).
But it wasn’t for a lack of effort by Toronto.
Josh Lewenberg of TSN:
The NBA is a business, and it’s not good business to blindly feature the best teams on the main stage. High-quality on-court performance definitely helps, but there are other factors.
In a league that draws so much revenue based on American TV viewership, it’s just hard to justify spotlighting a Canadian team. Toronto, while large, is a tricky market.
This shouldn’t mean the Raptors never play on Christmas. I question the wisdom of scheduling the Knicks on Christmas with Kristaps Porzingis likely still injured. Even attracting the New York market, will they draw high enough ratings? Probably.
At best, this lands in questionable territory, which means the league’s treatment of Toronto is totally justifiable.