No Christmas Game for OKC Thunder, Westbrook returns to Peake Jan. 9, 2020

OKC Thunder Girls performing on Christmas Day (Photo by Torrey Purvey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
OKC Thunder Girls performing on Christmas Day (Photo by Torrey Purvey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

Russell Westbrook set to make his return visit to the Peake on January 9, 2020, and Paul George returns March 3. But for the first time in 10 years the OKC Thunder will not play on Christmas Day.

It’s likely the full 2019-20 NBA schedule will be released this coming week especially with Christmas Day Games leaking on Friday, August 2. To that end, for the first time in 10 seasons, the OKC Thunder will not be among the teams featured on the holiday.

In their 11 seasons, the OKC Thunder played nine times on Christmas Day including a consecutive run from 2010 through 2018. Even after losing Kevin Durant the OKC Thunder still remained in the mix of Christmas Day games.

So, not playing this coming season isn’t that surprising; that’s the price of losing a superstar of Russell Westbrook‘s ilk means. Coincidentally, both Westbrook and Paul George will play on December 25. The five games and ten teams who’ll lace up the kicks on the holiday are:

LA primetime:

Both Los Angeles teams will play and face each other. It’s not surprising the Lakers and Clippers were tapped to play as these two squads will occupy many of the headlines this coming season as most pundits are already tapping them as the top two teams in the West as well as citing them as eventual champions.

Just remember though, last season these same analysts were calling for the Lakers to be among the favorites and they failed to make the postseason. Granted, adding Anthony Davis will make a difference and their roster is definitely built for a long playoff run. But, they’ll need to compile enough regular season wins and stay healthy.

Since both teams play out of the Staples Center it will be interesting which fanbase is best represented in the crowd although the Lakers are tapped as hosts.

It will be a showdown of duo superstars as Kawhi Leonard and Paul George take on LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

NBA goes North of the border:

It’s a bit of a running joke in Toronto who’ve watched the Knicks play repeatedly on Christmas Day (five out of the last six seasons) while the Raptors were left off the list despite being one of the winningest teams in this period. In fact, during that six-year span, the Knicks won a total of 163 games versus the Raptors 321 wins.

This season as the current champions the league couldn’t refuse Toronto again so the NBA will take their first trip North on the holiday and the Raptors will play for just the second time (2001) in franchise history. The Boston Celtics will be the opponent.

Despite finally getting the nod, We The North fans are already expecting to be the first match of the day as the one start time none of the ten teams want. Wonder if the fans will wrap up and come out to Jurassic Park.

Projected top two East clubs:

Pundits project the Milwaukee Bucks to be at the top of the East’s ladder again along with the Philadelphia 76ers who’ll tip off against each other. The 76ers will play host.

The matchup is a bit surprising as pitting one of them against the Raptors who defeated both clubs in the playoffs makes more sense. Then again, pundits are already writing off the Raptors and perhaps the League believes putting superstars like Giannis Antetokounmpo against Joel Embiid will provide a greater audience.

Zion fever meets mile high hosts:

The NBA will take advantage of the Zion Williamson popularity and feature the youngster in a meeting at the Nuggets. Denver who finished second in the West last season will play host.

Westbrook gets the tap again:

Stephen Curry and his Golden State Warriors will play host to the Houston Rockets. For the tenth year in a row, Russell Westbrook will play on Christmas Day. Given these two squads have developed one of the best rivalries in the NBA this matchup makes sense.

Westbrook’s return with Rockets to play OKC Thunder:

In addition to the Christmas Day games, other leaks which surfaced on Friday were the rivalry matches featuring the return of superstars to their old haunts.

Mark January 9 on your calendar Thunder Nation as that will be the first time Russell Westbrook returns back to the Peake. Not knowing if the OKC Thunder will play in Houston prior it may also be the first time Chris Paul faces his old club if he’s still on the OKC Thunder.

The other date is March 3 when OKC fans will play the Clippers marking Paul George‘s return to the Peake. It might be a mixed bag response for George who forced the rebuild of the team by requesting to be traded to the Clippers.

More from Thunderous Intentions

Other key return games:

  • Kawhi Leonard returns to play the Raptors – December 11
  • Mike Conley returns to play Memphis Grizzlies – November 15
  • Kristaps Porzingis makes his return to the Mecca – November 14
  • Anthony Davis returns to play Pelicans in New Orleans – November 27
  • Kyrie Irving returns to Boston to play Celtics – November 27

Another game which was highlighted on social media is November 17 when the Blazers will play in Houston and Damian Lillard faces Westbrook for the first time since his walk off series ending shot in the playoffs as per Chris Haynes.

As noted, the full schedule should be released this coming week. Is there a specific game you are excited about?

Next. The future: an in-depth analysis of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. dark

Let us know in the comments section which game you are most anxious to see this coming season.