Embiid, 76ers to face Butler, Heat in Christmas Day matchup

Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler, right, goes up for a shot against Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Monday, Feb. 27, 2023, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The NBA’s Christmas Day games list has come out as Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers are set to face a familiar face this holiday season.

Embiid, 76ers
Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid reacts after making a basket during the first half of Game 2 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Toronto Raptors, Monday, April 18, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Christmas Day in the NBA, there are few sports/holiday crossovers like it. The Cavaliers defeating the Warriors, who had just added Kevin Durant, in the year after Cleveland became the first Finals team to come back from down 3-1. The Knicks and Celtics facing off in a double-overtime extravaganza during Patrick Ewing’s rookie season. And, of course, Shaq’s thrilling return to LA with the Miami Heat in 2004.

This season brings a fresh new slate of games as The Athletic’s Shams Charania breaks down the schedule for the NBA’s Christmas Day, 2023.

Who will Joel Embiid and the 76ers face on Christmas Day?

Embiid, 76ers
Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler, right, and Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid embrace after Game 6 of an NBA basketball second-round playoff series, Thursday, May 12, 2022, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The NBA looks to continue this captivating tradition with another strong set of games on Dec. 25. The Milwaukee Bucks will face off against the New York Knicks as the league continues its parallel tradition to the NFL’s Detroit Lions hosting a Thanksgiving game. The Celtics and Lakers will meet for either the 372nd or 373rd time in the history of their storied rivalry – depending on whether their matchup in Boston falls in the schedule.

As for the Western Conference, Luka Doncic, Kyrie Irving, and the Dallas Mavericks will head to Phoenix to take on Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and the Suns. And finally, the Splash Brothers will lead the Golden State Warriors against the defending champs Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets.

As for Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers, they will head down to Miami to face Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat. Since the Sixers traded Butler to Miami back in 2019, the two teams have played 20 times between the regular season and playoffs, with the Sixers down eight games to 12 in that time. Last season, the Sixers dropped two of three games against Miami, but Joel Embiid and company will now look to flip the script on recent history.

One interesting note is that both of these squads are expected to look drastically different come Christmas Day, as the Miami Heat are expected to eventually land Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard while the Philadelphia 76ers are expected to trade away star James Harden after his offseason demand. We could be looking at two brand new teams come Christmas, and all bets are off as far as the potential result, but one thing is for certain:

The NBA on Christmas remains undefeated.