The Miami Heat’s surprise trip to the NBA Finals during the 2020 playoffs has placed the franchise back in familiar territory. For the first time since 2015, the Heat will play on Christmas — the marquee day for the NBA to showcase its top talent.
ESPN Sources: Tentative Christmas Day Schedule pic.twitter.com/MId025HKvB— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) December 2, 2020
Miami will open the NBA’s five-game Christmas slate against the New Orleans Pelicans at noon. (The Heat’s last Christmas Day game also came against New Orleans at noon.) The Pelicans, of course, hope to have a healthy Zion Williamson for his second NBA season. The No. 1 overall pick of the 2019 NBA Draft played just 24 games last season. Brandon Ingram edged out Bam Adebayo for the 2020 Most Improved Player award last year.
New Orleans also recently hired former Heat coach Stan Van Gundy as their head coach. He probably isn’t happy about having to coach his team on December 25. When he was coach for the Orlando Magic in 2009, Van Gundy discussed his discontent for the NBA games on Christmas saying, “I actually feel sorry for people who have nothing to do on Christmas Day other than watch an NBA game.” After the league hit the Magic with a “hefty fine,” Van Gundy sarcastically said the following year that the NBA should schedule games starting at midnight on Christmas Eve and keep games coming all day long.