The NBA announced its annual five-game slate for Christmas Day this upcoming season, and the Grizzlies do not find themselves in it. The schedule shows Bucks vs Knicks, 76ers vs Heat, Celtics vs Lakers, Mavericks vs Suns, and Warriors vs Nuggets.
Last year, Memphis faced Golden State in San Francisco on Christmas Day, they lost in what was an entertaining game win or lose for Memphis fans. It was the first time in the franchise’s history that they played on Santa’s holiday.
Now they find themselves at home for Christmas and opening night. Being snubbed of primetime television on opening night comes as no surprise considering Memphis will be without star guard Ja Morant for the first 25 games of the season.
The idea of Memphis playing on Christmas Day was something that fans of the city hoped would soon become a reoccurring theme. Although, the NBA has other plans as fans will have to wait another year.
Why Memphis Will Not Play on Christmas
It comes as a surprise for people, including myself, that we will have to wait for a potential primetime rematch between the Grizzlies and the Lakers. That most likely would have been the Christmas Day matchup, if given, due to the entertaining first-round matchup in the first round this past season.
Firstly, the NBA most likely took the chance of not scheduling Memphis due to the possibility of the team not having Ja Morant, even after his suspension is served. There is no guarantee after 25 games that Morant will return as he can only come back after meeting certain circumstances as well.
Secondly, the loss of Dillon Brooks also makes the Grizzlies a new team as he was the energy guy as well as the guy known for getting under people's skin like LeBron James and Klay Thompson.
Without Brooks, it makes it difficult for outside fans to have a reason to watch the Grizzlies on primetime as people love to clown players. As biased as it sounds, it's true that NBA fans watch to find reasons to make fun of players like Brooks or Morant.
Last year, the one moment that people remember from the Memphis vs Golden State Christmas Day matchup is Klay Thompson taunting Dillon Brooks as he was on the ground.
Plus, Memphis has yet to escape the small market narrative, which is why, without a rivalry makes it hard for them to make primetime television.
How Memphis Can Make It Next Year
Another reason the NBA may have considered keeping Memphis out of the Christmas Day slate is because of image issues. After discussing with some disgruntled Memphis fans, we concluded that due to the controversies of last season, the image of Memphis took a hit within the higher-ups in the league.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver could have been reluctant to schedule Memphis due to Ja Morant being the talk of the offseason. The suspense of what punishment Morant would receive took over the hype for the NBA Draft and even parts of free agency.
If the Grizzlies can stay that team that is must-see TV while also keeping themselves humble, there will be a high demand for a primetime matchup next season.
Last season after the playoffs, NBA fans begged for Memphis versus Golden State to be a primetime game. That was in part due to the brewed rivalry between the two teams, and the fact that Memphis was considered a contender last season.
NBA fans have learned over the years that you must be a contender for a Christmas Day matchup, or a big market like the New York Knicks to consistently be scheduled for primetime.
It is important that the Grizzlies keep consistent and healthy on the court so that they can return to contender status. The city will always consider the Grizzlies as a contender, but that status took a major hit after the first-round loss to the Lakers.
In the meantime, there is potential for Memphis to be flexed into some primetime games throughout the season. It has been a trend for it to happen throughout the past two seasons, so it will most likely come as no surprise this year.
For the fans, it could be much worse. Sacramento Kings fans witnessed their best season in nearly 20 years and did not get scheduled for Christmas.