The NBA on Christmas Day has been a tradition since 1947 and this year will be no different. Missing from the lineup, however, will be the traditional NBA Finals rematch. After LeBron James left the Cleveland Cavaliers for the Los Angeles Lakers in the offseason, the league instead will feature the Lakers at the Golden State Warriors, who beat the Cavs in the Finals, as its premiere game.
Demand for that game is sky high -- the highest in a decade of Christmas Day games, according to secondary ticket marketplace TicketIQ.com. Fans have pushed the average asking price to $1,292. The next most expensive December 25 game in history was the 2015 Warriors-Cleveland Cavaliers game, which settled at $1,011. That game was a rematch of the 2015 Finals, in which the Warriors beat the Cavs in six games. Golden State and Cleveland played in four consecutive Ginals before James headed West.
The Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics game is the only other one of this year's five December 25 games to make it into the Top 10 for the decade in terms of price. That game is ranked No. 10 and has a current average asking price of $459. The 2011 Los Angeles Clippers-Warriors game, which had an average asking price of $98, was the cheapest of the decade.
This year's $514.54 average asking price across all games is the highest of the decade. The cheapest since 2011 was 2013, when the average was $250.13.
Below is a look at how all five Christmas Day are shaping up:
- Where: Oracle Arena
- Average asking price: $1,292
- Get-in price: $280
LeBron James' first game as a Laker against Golden State is driving demand for this game. It doesn't hurt that both the Warriors and Lakers are among the top four teams in the West. This game is the most expensive Christmas Day game of 2018 and of the decade, according to TicketIQ.com. Both teams played on Christmas Day last year, but neither have a winning record on December 25.
- Where: TD Garden
- Average asking price: $459
- Get-in price: $117
The 76ers are traditionally considered the Celtics second biggest rival behind the Lakers, and certainly their biggest rival in the East. This year, games between the two will have added value because both the Celtics and the 76ers are among the top-tier teams in the East. The rivalry dates to 1949 and includes an NBA-record 21 playoff meetings. This game has the second highest average asking price for a Christmas Day game on the secondary market, according to TicketIQ.com, and is the priciest of two (2018, 2017) played at TD Garden. Last year’s Christmas Day game had a final average asking price of $194.
- Where: Madison Square Garden
- Average asking price: $441
- Get-in price: $185
The Knicks hold the distinction of playing in the most Christmas Day games (52) of any team in the league, and have the most wins (22) and most losses (30). This time around, the Knicks will be hosting a non-traditional opponent in the Milwaukee Bucks, who last played on Christmas Day in 1977. The Knicks and Bucks have played at least twice a season since 1968, and the Bucks hold a 110-102 all-time series advantage. This year's game is the fifth most expensive Christmas Day game involving the Knicks this decade. The most expensive was in 2011, when fans paid an average of $515 to see the Knicks host the Celtics. At $441, this year's average asking price is the third highest on the secondary market among 2018 Christmas Day games.
- Where: Toyota Center
- Average asking price: $257
- Get-in price: $43
The Thunder and Rockets have met regularly since 1969, albeit under other franchise names -- the Thunder were previously the Seattle SuperSonics and the Rockets franchise started in San Diego. The rivalry is very evenly matched, though the Thunder hold a 110-107 all-time series advantage. The Thunder have one of the worst Christmas Day records in the NBA at 5-13, but did beat the Rockets last year. This game is a rematch of 2017 December 25 game, and is the second of four meetings between the teams this season. At $257, this is the second cheapest Christmas Day game of 2018.
- Where: Vivint Smart Home Arena
- Average asking price: $124
- Get-in price: $38
Neither of these teams has been a Christmas Day regular, but both have winning records on this date. The Trail Blazers (14-3) have the second best Christmas Day record in the NBA, behind only the Miami Heat (10-2). Portland's last appearance on December 25 was in 2010 and Utah's was in 1997. This game will be the second of four meetings between these teams this season, and has the lowest average asking price across this year's Christmas Day games.