Hoops: There It Is On Christmas

ESPN/ABC Present Live Quintupleheader; FS1 Features Four Games from Big East Classics Past

Presents, mistletoe and family aren’t the only staples of Christmas day as ESPN/ABC and Fox Sports 1 will air plenty of hoops action.

ABC and ESPN will combine to televise a quintet of NBA contests on Wednesday, Dec. 25, while Fox Sports 1 is unwrapping its Big East rights, delving into the conference’s past with a four-pack of classic contests.

The live NBA action is highlighted by ABC’s first two NBA broadcasts of the season – the Oklahoma City Thunder and Kevin Durant visit the New York Knicks and Carmelo Anthony (a game-time decision with an ankle injury) at 2:30 p.m. (ET), with Mike Breen, analyst Hubie Brown and reporter Lisa Salters on the call.

The broadcast network will tip off the second game of its doubleheader with the Los Angeles Lakers and Pau Gasol hosting LeBron James and the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat at 5 p.m. Mike Tirico, analyst Jeff Van Gundy and reporter Heather Cox will call Heat-Lakers.

ESPN opens up The Walt Disney Co’s pro hoops day with its coverage of the Brooklyn Nets-Chicago Bulls from Barclays Center.  Ryan Ruocco, analyst Doris Burke and reporter Chris Broussard will provide commentary for the telecast.

Following the games on ABC, the worldwide leader has a primetime doubleheader of its own, beginning at 8 p.m. when the Houston Rockets -- led by Dwight Howard and James Harden -- visit the defending Western Conference champion San Antonio Spurs with Tony Parker and Tim Duncan. Mark Jones, analyst George Karl and reporter Israel Gutierrez will provide the particulars. The five-game docket concludes with the Golden State Warriors -- featuring Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson -- welcoming the Los Angeles Clippers with Chris Paul and Blake Griffin at 10:30 p.m. Dave Pasch, Jon Barry and J.A. Adande are on the mics.

The Christmas contests face some tough competition from games of Nielsen past. ABC’s late-afternoon contest must measure up against last year’s Thunder-Heat telecast that netted a 5.1 rating and 9.6 million viewers, which ranked as the fifth-most-viewed NBA regular-season game on any network since the current TV deals began with the 2002-03 season.

The 2012 Knicks-Lakers Christmas clash garnered a 4.8 rating and 8.8 million watchers, ranking as the seventh-most viewed NBA regular season game since the television deals went into effect.

Overall, ESPN averaged 2.8 million viewers for its three Christmas Day 2012 games, up slightly from two games on the network in 2011.

It should be noted that the 2011 Christmas games marked the first contests of the lockout-truncated 2011-12 season.

For those who prefer the college hardwood, FS1 has a four-game marathon of its own that tips at noon. St. John’s and Georgetown open  with the Johnies’ upset from the 1984 regular season in which Chris Mullin scored 33 points in a 75-71 win over Patrick Ewing and the second-ranked and eventual national champion Hoyas.

 At 2 p.m. FS1 encores last year’s third-round NCAA Tournament game between Marquette and Butler, then a member of the Atlantic-10 Conference, lined up. In a back-and-forth affair, the Golden Eagles edged the Bulldogs, 74-72, as Butler’s last-second shot was off the mark.

St. John’s and Georgetown rejoin their rivalry again at 4 p.m., this time with the latter triumphing in the 1985 NCAA national semifinal. The teams joined Villanova in the Final Four, making the Big East the only conference in history to place three teams in the same national semifinal. 

FS1 concludes its day with Villanova’s “perfect game,” a 66-64 win over Georgetown that still stands as one of the greatest upsets in March Madness history. The hot-handed Wildcats shot nearly 80% from the floor to take down the top-ranked and defending champion Hoyas in the 1985 national championship game.

Studio host Rob Stone and Fox Sports lead college basketball game analyst Bill Raftery provide context, analysis and postgame thoughts for each of the four classic games.