NBA tries to erase hype from Knicks Christmas Day game with schedule blunder

Before the full 2023-24 regular season schedule was released on Thursday afternoon, it was already known the New York Knicks would be hosting Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks on Christmas Day. However, once the schedule came out, that matchup lost some hype.

Christmas at the Garden is always one of the most anticipated games of the year for Knicks fans, and 2023 should be no different. The stakes will be higher given Giannis Antetokounmpo’s contract situation.

The 28-year-old star is eligible to sign a contract this offseason but isn’t expected to do so. After the 2023-24 season, he’ll make $48.8 million in 2024-25 before having a $52 million player option in 2025-26. Depending on how Milwaukee’s season shakes out, there’s a chance Antetokounmpo could be the hottest name on the trade market next summer.

Regardless, it’ll still be exciting to see Jalen Brunson and the Knicks square off against one of the top teams in the conference, which will also happen on Dec. 23. Milwaukee is getting an extended Christmas trip in New York City.

Knicks will also host Bucks on Dec. 23 before Christmas Day game

If the Bucks don’t advance to the Knockout Rounds of the In-Season Tournament (and hopefully they won’t), their first game on the road in December will be on the 23rd in New York.

The NBA implemented the two-game series idea a couple of years ago to reduce travel, so it isn’t unusual that Milwaukee will take on New York twice in three days. However, it is unusual that the league made the Christmas Day game the second game in a two-game series.

MSG is always an electric environment, so the two-game series won’t play a factor in that, but the NBA should want the hype to be as high as possible entering Christmas Day. The two teams meeting up two days before will take away from that.

Luckily for the league, the Knicks and Bucks could play each other in every game leading up to Dec. 25, and the Christmas Day contest would still be hyped up because of the atmosphere and passionate fanbase. It wasn’t the best time for a two-game series, though.

New York fans obviously want the Knicks to win both games, but the NBA should hope that something fascinating happens in the Dec. 23 contest that will amp up the Christmas Day matchup.