LeBron James, Lakers face Warriors to highlight Christmas Day schedule

ByIan Begley ESPN logo
Monday, August 13, 2018

LeBron James' Los Angeles Lakers will face the defending champion Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day, and James' first regular-season game in Los Angeles will be against the Houston Rockets, the NBA announced on Wednesday.

James' first home game as a Laker will be on Oct. 20 against Houston (ESPN). His regular-season Lakers debut will be Oct. 18, when Los Angeles visits the Portland Trail Blazers.

The NBA season kicks off on Oct. 16 with the Philadelphia 76ers visiting the Boston Celtics (8 p.m. ET, TNT) and the Warriors hosting the Oklahoma City Thunder (10:30 p.m., TNT). Before the second game, the Warriors will receive their championship rings and unveil the banner for their 2018 NBA title.

The Lakers' Christmas Day game at Golden State (8 p.m., ESPN/ABC) will be one of a handful of nationally televised NBA games on the holiday.

Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers will visit Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum and the Boston Celtics (5:30 p.m., ABC). James Harden, Chris Paul and the Rockets will host Russell Westbrook, Paul George and the Oklahoma City Thunder (3 p.m., ABC) in another Christmas Day matchup.

The Utah Jazz will host Portland in the final game of the day (10:30 p.m., ESPN). The Christmas Day slate will begin with the Milwaukee Bucks visiting the New York Knicks.

James' first Christmas Day game as a Laker will be the holiday's marquee matchup.

James, who signed a four-year, $153 million contract with the Lakers in July, faced the Warriors in each of the past four NBA Finals as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

James' first Lakers home game will be against good friends Paul and Carmelo Anthony, who is expected to officially sign with the Rockets in the coming days.

Other significant matchups in the NBA's first week? Top overall pick DeAndre Ayton and the Phoenix Suns host fellow rookie Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks on Oct. 17 (ESPN).

The Celtics will visit Kawhi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors on Oct. 19 (ESPN), and the Warriors will travel to Utah on the same night.

The Celtics likely will play on national television regularly this season. On Christmas Day, Boston will face Philadelphia in a rematch of the Eastern Conference semifinals, which the Celtics won in five games.

The Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo will play on Christmas Day for the first time since 1977. It is unclear whether Knicks All-Star Kristaps Porzingis will be available for the game. He is currently rehabbing a torn ACL, an injury he suffered in an early February game against the Bucks.

The NBA also announced Wednesday the nationally televised games on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. The Memphis Grizzlies will host the New Orleans Pelicans in their 16th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Game at 5:30 p.m. As part of the holiday triple-header, the Rockets will visit the 76ers (8 p.m.) and the Lakers will host the Warriors (10:30 p.m.).

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