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NBA schedule 2015: Cavaliers-Warriors, Bulls-Thunder highlight Christmas Day showcase

The NBA's schedule for Christmas Day is stacked as usual.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA always rolls out its biggest names and brightest stars on Christmas Day and this year will be no different. The league's schedule for the holiday on Dec. 25 is stacked as usual, peppered with familiar faces and some new matchups that look enticing on paper.

One of the big games will be a rematch of the 2015 NBA Finals, with LeBron James' Cleveland Cavaliers meeting the defending champion Golden State Warriors. Another will see Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls take on the star-laden Oklahoma City Thunder.

The New York Knicks, a Christmas Day staple historically, won't be playing on the holiday for the first time since 2008. That's probably for the best given the team's ugly holiday performances over the past couple years. In 2013, New York lost to the Thunder, 123-94. Last year, the team fell behind the Wizards early en route to a 102-91 loss. Now the Knicks will spend Dec. 25 at home like most of the other teams.

Here's this season's NBA's Christmas Day showcase, which will be broadcast on ESPN and ABC.

New Orleans Pelicans vs. Miami Heat

Noon ET, ESPN

The holiday schedule opens from South Beach with Heat taking on Anthony Davis and the Pelicans. Miami is considered one of the better teams in the Eastern Conference with Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside leading the way, while New Orleans could take a big step forward this season under new head coach Alvin Gentry.

The biggest selling point of this game will likely be Davis, though, given his rise through the NBA cosmos over the past couple years. Now a bonafide superstar and league MVP candidate, Davis gets the Pelicans onto the Christmas Day slate for the first time in his career. Assuming Davis' meteoric emergence continues, it surely won't be the last time, either.

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors

5 p.m. ET, ABC

One of the most anticipated matchups of the season will see the Cavaliers returning to the Bay Area to meet the defending champs on Christmas Day. The Warriors and Cavaliers are sure to be among the league's elite teams again next season, and LeBron James must be eager to face Stephen Curry and company again. James should have more help this time around, too, assuming that Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and others stay healthy throughout the season.

That makes this a must-watch game for anyone around a television on Christmas Day. Not only will you get the chance to see arguably the two best players in the game face off for the first time since the Finals, but it should also be a more even contest with a healthy Cavaliers roster.

Chicago Bulls vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

2:30 p.m., ABC

A pair of Christmas Day mainstays in recent years, the Bulls and Thunder are again being featured in the holiday showcase for 2015. The two teams have each played in five consecutive Christmas Day games.

The Thunder are hosting their first holiday game since 2011, but it's possible this could be their last for a while. The free agency of forward Kevin Durant looms over the season for Oklahoma City, and it's likely that the NBA won't keep scheduling the team for big events like this if Durant signs elsewhere. Russell Westbrook is undeniably a superstar in his own right, but the combination with Durant has been the driving force behind the Thunder's rise into a marquee team.

This also will be the first chance for new Bulls head coach Fred Hoiberg to coach on Christmas Day after being hired to replace Tom Thibodeau this summer. Chicago should be among the East's best teams next season with Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler and Pau Gasol leading the way, so the basketball side of this matchup is intriguing, as well.

San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets

8 p.m., ESPN

For the second time in three years, the Spurs and Rockets will meet on Christmas Day to rekindle their in-state rivalry. The two teams have largely avoided big games over the years -- their last postseason matchup was the 1995 Western Conference Finals -- but the holiday has served as a chance for two of the Texas' three teams to tip off on the big stage.

On Christmas Day in 2013, the Rockets topped the Spurs, 111-98, thanks to a balanced scoring effort that saw James Harden, Terrence Jones and Chandler Parsons all top 20 points. In classic Spurs fashion, coach Gregg Popovich refused to play his stars big minutes even under the holiday limelight, and no San Anotnio starter ended up scoring more than 13 points.

This Spurs team will look a bit different, with forwards LaMarcus Aldridge and David West joining the fray, while the Rockets have also tweaked their formula over the past couple years. With both teams entering next season aiming at the NBA Finals, this should be another fun one to watch.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Los Angeles Clippers

10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

The Lakers may be the worst team to play on Christmas Day in 2015, but an all-Los Angeles matchup should be worth watching either way. Not only do you get the Clippers, projected as one of the league's best teams, but you also get the Lakers backcourt of Kobe Bryant, who loves playing on the biggest stages, and No. 2 overall draft pick D'Angelo Russell, who was last seen mocking Kobe in a hilarious video for SB Nation.

Last year, the Clippers beat the Warriors, 100-86, on Christmas Day, while the Lakers lost to the Bulls, 113-93. The result might be similarly lopsided between the two teams this time around, but even so, the Kobe factor, assuming he's still healthy, makes this one to watch.