For the first time in three years, the Miami Heat will be included in the NBA’s Christmas Day showcase and will be featured in other national slots that suggest trading for Damian Lillard is a possibility.
The Heat will host the Philadelphia 76ers at Kaseya Center on Christmas Day, according to multiple reports. It is one of five games scheduled on the NBA’s signature event, which also includes the Milwaukee Bucks at New York Knicks, Boston Celtics at Los Angeles Lakers, Dallas Mavericks at Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors at Denver Nuggets.
Games are televised on either ABC or ESPN, with start times staggered throughout the day at noon, 2:30 p.m., 5 p.m., 8 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. The Heat, according to the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson, are tentatively scheduled to tip off at the 8 p.m. slot.
The Miami Heat will host the 76ers in their first Christmas Day game since 2020.
Because the Heat represented the East in the NBA Finals, it’s not a surprise that they will play on Christmas. The last time the Heat played on Christmas was in 2020, a 111-98 home win over the New Orleans Pelicans on the heels of their Finals appearance in the Bubble. The Heat are 11-2 all-time on Christmas Day games.
Other schedule reports suggest that the NBA is preparing for the possibility that the Heat will trade for seven-time All-Star Lillard, which would result in more nationally-televised games.
The Heat’s game in Portland on Feb. 27 will be televised on TNT, sources told Jackson. If Lillard is traded to Miami, the game would mark his first trip to Portland after playing for the Trail Blazers for 11 seasons.
According to recent reports, there has not been meaningful dialogue between the Heat and Trail Blazers regarding Lillard since he requested a trade in early July. Lillard’s preference is to be traded to Miami, but the Blazers have not been impressed with the Heat’s offer, which is believed to include Tyler Herro, multiple first-round picks and more salary.
But that has not stopped the NBA for preparing for the event that a trade ultimately gets done and Lillard is playing for the Heat this season.
Other games that have been reported include the Heat at the Boston Celtics in an Eastern Conference finals rematch on Oct. 27, and an NBA Finals rematch between the Heat and Denver Nuggets at Ball Arena on Feb. 29.
That the Heat are part of the early NBA schedule leaks isn’t entirely unexpected given their recent track record of success (two Finals appearances in four seasons). However, this is the same team that was featured just 11 times on national TV last season despite pushing the Celtics to Game 7 of the conference finals the season prior.
It’s unclear how many nationally televised games the Heat will have this season, but a star such as Lillard would warrant more exposure.