Bah Humbug: NBA Christmas games were historically uncompetitive duds

Nuggets guards Gary Harris and Jamal Murray vs. Clippers in Christmas game
Bah Humbug: NBA's Christmas schedule had five duds competitively

The Clippers – who just blew big second-half leads in Games 5 and 6 then lost Game 7 to blow a 3-1 series lead to the Nuggets in last season’s playoffs – built another big lead over Denver yesterday. But the Nuggets once again went on a big run in the fourth quarter, and tension rose. Finally, well after Christmas ended in the Eastern time zone, the NBA provided drama during its premier regular-season slate.

Denver cut L.A.’s lead to 11.

And that was the day’s most-suspenseful game. The NBA’s Christmas schedule proved quite underwhelming:

  • Heat 111, Pelicans 98
  • Bucks 138, Warriors 99
  • Nets 123, Celtics 95
  • Lakers 138, Mavericks 115
  • Clippers 121, Nuggets 108

With an average margin of 23.2, 2020 had the second-most-lopsided Christmas games in NBA history.

In 1960, the Syracuse Nationals beat the Knicks by 62 and the Cincinnati Royals beat the Pistons by seven for an average margin of 34.5. But that Christmas featured just two games.

For all five Christmas games this year to be routs is remarkable. Last Christmas was noteworthy with even four uncompetitive games. The previous largest average margin when there were at least even three Christmas games was 16.0 in 1947.

Here are the Christmases with games that had the highest average margins (total number of games):

Heck, yesterday stood out for any day in NBA history.

The 23.2 average margin was the fifth-largest on a day with at least five games.

Here are the days with games that have the highest average margin (minimum: five games):

Jan. 15, 2019 was an oddity, and to some degree, so was this. Blowouts happen. They’re bound to sometimes be grouped together.

But for this to happen in five nationally televised games the NBA hand-selected to create intriguing matchups… that’s one big lump of coal.