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How to watch 2021 NBA Christmas games

Steph Curry NBA
Steph Curry (No. 30) of the Golden State Warriors (Image credit: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

In what has become a holiday tradition, the NBA will feature a slate of Christmas games with many of their most popular players and best teams. With five games on the docket for Dec. 25, there will be action all day as the first NBA Christmas game is scheduled for tipoff at noon ET and the final one is expected to begin at 10:30 p.m. ET.

This year’s matchups for the NBA’s Christmas games are the Atlanta Hawks at the New York Knicks at noon ET on ESPN; the Boston Celtics at the Milwaukee Bucks at 2:30 p.m. ET on ABC; the Golden State Warriors at the Phoenix Suns at 5 p.m. ET on ABC; the Brooklyn Nets at the Los Angeles Lakers at 8 p.m. ET on ABC and simulcasting on ESPN; and the Dallas Mavericks at the Utah Jazz at 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. This means you can spend Christmas watching the likes of Lebron James, Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Luka Doncic and more put on a show on the court.

While this is the planned schedule for the NBA’s Christmas games, the league has acknowledged that the situation is fluid at the moment as a result of the surge of COVID cases because of the Omicron variant. As ESPN detailed, the league may shift around some of the games in the event others need to be postponed, with the league specifically looking to ensure that they have games played on ABC at the 2:30 p.m. ET, 5:00 p.m. ET and 8 p.m. ET time slots. What to Watch will update this page regarding times for these games if needed.

Here is what you need to know on how to watch the NBA Christmas games this year.

How to watch 2021 NBA Christmas games in the U.S.

All five of the NBA Christmas games will air on either ABC or ESPN. The good news is that both of these channels are pretty readily available for subscribers, but there are a couple of things you need to be aware of for both.

Let’s start with ABC. ABC is one of the four major broadcast networks in the U.S. and as a result is required to be carried by all traditional cable/satellite pay-TV providers. The network also features a local station that serves every U.S. TV market, with the station’s signals being able to be received by viewers who opt to use a TV antenna. The last way to watch ABC is via a live TV streaming service, including FuboTV, Hulu with Live TV and YouTube TV.

ESPN, on the other hand, is a cable channel, which immediately rules out using a TV antenna to watch it. While it is readily available on many traditional pay-TV subscriptions, best to check and make sure that one carries the sports network. ESPN is also available on the live TV streaming services FuboTV, Hulu with Live TV, Sling TV and YouTube TV.

The games won’t be streaming (not even on ESPN Plus), but you can watch them on mobile devices through the Watch ESPN app, which is accessible as long as you are signed up for any of the above-mentioned subscription services.

How to watch 2021 NBA Christmas games in the U.K.

U.K. NBA fans can also tune in for many of these NBA Christmas games, with Sky Sports set to air them.

The Atlanta Hawks vs New York Knicks game will are on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Mix channels at 5 p.m. GMT on Dec. 25, followed by the Boston Celtics vs Milwaukee Bucks game also on Sky Sports Main Event and Sky Sports Mix at 7:30 p.m. GMT. The remaining games on the schedule will only air on Sky Sports Mix, starting with the Golden State Warriors vs Phoenix Suns game at 10 p.m. GMT, then the Brooklyn Nets vs Los Angeles Lakers game at 1 a.m. GMT on Dec. 26 and finally Dallas Mavericks vs Utah Jazz at 3:30 a.m. GMT on Dec. 26.

How to watch 2021 NBA Christmas games from anywhere in the world

Basketball continues to grow as an international sport, so if you want to watch any of the NBA Christmas games this year but don’t have access to any of the above methods wherever you may be, something you can use is a virtual private network, or VPN.

We recommend ExpressVPN as a reliable VPN service for securing your data and accessing shows and events all around the world. Even better, ExpressVPN offers a 30-day no-quibble, money-back guarantee if you're not happy with the service. 

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Michael Balderston

Michael Balderston is a D.C.-based entertainment writer and content producer for What to Watch. He previously has written for TV Technology and Awards Circuit.