The defending NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks hosting the Boston Celtics, the ultimate star-studded showdown between the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers, and Trae Young returning to Madison Square Garden highlight the NBA's quintupleheader of games on Christmas Day for this coming season -- all of which will be aired across ESPN's family of networks.
The Christmas Day schedule, as well as the national TV games across the opening week of the season, was announced Tuesday afternoon on ESPN's The Jump.
Young became the latest in a long line of villains at Madison Square Garden with his spectacular performance against the New York Knicks in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, leading his Hawks past them in five games as part of their run to the Eastern Conference finals. Atlanta will open the Christmas Day slate against newly signed Kemba Walker and the Knicks at noon ET on ESPN.
That will be followed by the defending champion Bucks hosting Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and the Celtics at 2:30 p.m. ET on ABC to start an action-packed tripleheader. That game will be followed at 5 p.m. ET by the defending Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns taking on a Golden State Warriors team that features Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and -- potentially -- a then-healthy Klay Thompson.
Arguably the most anticipated game of the season, however, will see the league's two biggest constellations of stars -- Brooklyn's Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving against Los Angeles' LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook -- facing off at Staples Center at 8 p.m. ET to round out the tripleheader. To cap off the night, Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks will travel to Salt Lake City to face Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and the Utah Jazz at 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
The NBA season will kick off on Oct. 19 in Milwaukee, when the Bucks will get their rings before hosting the Nets -- a rematch of their incredible Eastern Conference semifinal series that ended in overtime in Game 7 in Brooklyn, with the Bucks escaping with a win -- at 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT. That will be followed by the Lakers hosting the Warriors at 10 p.m. ET, as Westbrook will play his first game in his hometown as a member of the Lakers.
ESPN's opening slate is on Wednesday, Oct. 20. It begins with another hometown kid making his debut with his new team, as Walker -- who was introduced alongside fellow former Celtic Evan Fournier at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday morning -- will face Boston at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. Walker was traded away from the Celtics, along with a first-round pick, for Al Horford this summer. That will be followed by another playoff rematch, as the Denver Nuggets will travel to Phoenix to play the Suns, who swept them in the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.
The opening week schedule continues Thursday when players who were traded for each other in the 2018 NBA draft, Doncic and Young -- both of whom signed maximum contract extensions this offseason -- will face off in Atlanta at 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT. That's followed by the LA Clippers going to Golden State to play the Warriors at 10 p.m. ET.
The week concludes with two more star-studded games on ESPN on Oct. 22: the Nets facing the Philadelphia 76ers and Joel Embiid, who agreed to a supermax contract extension Tuesday, at 7:30 p.m. ET, followed by the Suns going to Los Angeles to play the Lakers at 10 p.m. ET. Phoenix ended L.A.'s season thanks to Devin Booker's sensational performance in Game 6 of their first-round playoff series, along with Davis missing the end of that series with a groin injury.