BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Celtics will be back under the spotlight (or should we say, mistletoe?) this season for the first time in four years, as they pay a visit to the New York Knicks to kick off the NBA’s Christmas Day slate.
This will be the 30th time the Celtics are featured on the NBA’s marquee day, so they have a lengthy history of waking up, opening presents and then hitting the hardwood. Here’s a look back on some of the more interesting tidbits from the Celtics playing on Christmas Day.
– The Celtics are 12-17 in their Christmas Day games.
– The C’s made their Christmas Day debut back in 1948, losing to the Philadelphia Warriors 80-77 in Philly. Gene Stump led Boston in scoring that day with 20 points.
– The Celtics were featured in the NBA’s Christmas Day lineup for 12 straight years from 1948 to 1960, losing their first six games. They went 4-8 during that stretch.
– Boston won its first Christmas Day game in 1954, when Bob Cousy led the way with 35 points in a 108-99 victory over Milwaukee.
– Boston has only hosted one Christmas Day game, a 118-106 win over the Pistons in 1964. Celtics patriarch Red Auberbach did not want Boston to host the game because he did not want to make the team staff have to work a home game on the holiday.
– The Celtics last played on Christmas Day in 2012, when they beat the Brooklyn Nets 93-76. Rajon Rondo led the way with 19 points, five assists, six rebounds and a sweet pair of Christmas kicks.
– “National TV Rondo” put on a show the year before, too, scoring 31 points to go with 13 assists as the C’s opened the strike-shortened season against the Knicks. It wasn’t enough though, as the Celtics were without Paul Pierce and fell 106-104.
– The Celtics spent their Christmas Day in Orlando in both 2009 and 2010, splitting their showdowns with the Magic. Rondo was fantastic in the 2009 game, pouring in 17 points to go with 17 rebounds and eight assists as Boston won 86-77 (the Celtics were without Pierce that day as well). They lost in 2010 despite 22 points from Kevin Garnett and 18 points and eight rebounds from Pierce, falling 86-78.
– The 27-2 Celtics met the L.A. Lakers for an NBA Finals rematch on Christmas Day in 2008 (their first Christmas Day game since 2002), losing 92-83. Kobe Bryant scored 27 points and Pau Gasol scored seven of his 20 points in the final three minutes as the Lakers snapped the defending champs 19-game winning streak — a franchise record.
– The most points the Celtics have scored on Christmas Day was back in 1967, beating the Knicks 134-124. Sam Jones led the way for Boston with 27 points, while John Havliceck scored 21.
– Tommy Heinsohn dropped 45 points on Christmas Day in a 127-122 win over the Syracuse Nationals in 1961.
– Boston’s worst loss on Christmas Day came in 2002, when they fell to the New Jersey Nets 117-81.
– Sunday will mark the eighth time the Celtics and Knicks have battled on Christmas Day, with the C’s owning a 4-3 record in those matchups. The Knicks have won the last two games (2011 and 1985) after the Celtics won four straight (1980, 1967, 1959 and 1958).
Tune in to Celtics-Knicks on 98.5 The Sports Hub — the flagship station of the Boston Celtics. Pregame coverage begins at 11:30 a.m.!