NBA scheduling quirk has Bucks making extended holiday trip to New York

Milwaukee Bucks forward Bobby Portis recently shared that he didn’t bother getting a Christmas tree for his home this year because he and his teammates are embarking on an extended holiday visit to New York. While NBA players are accustomed to the possibility of spending Christmas away from home, the Bucks are facing a unique holiday trip that involves three consecutive road games in the New York metro area.

The Bucks have early afternoon matchups against the New York Knicks on Saturday and Christmas Day before heading to face the Brooklyn Nets on Wednesday. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this marks just the second time an NBA team has played three straight road games in the New York metro area and the first time coinciding with Christmas. The Washington Wizards played at Brooklyn and then had two games against the Knicks in March 2021.

The Atlanta Hawks will become the third team to play consecutive road games in New York, with back-to-back games in Brooklyn on Feb. 29 and March 2 before facing the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on March 5.

After a successful six-game homestand, the Bucks are trying to make the best of this unusual trip. Many players, including Malik Beasley and rookie Andre Jackson Jr., have relatives joining them for the holiday season. Beasley plans to bring an artificial tree for his hotel suite, while Jackson hopes to visit his grandmother upstate.

Two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is excited to have his extended family with him, turning the trip into a festive gathering. Even his younger brother, Alex Antetokounmpo of the NBA G League’s Wisconsin Herd, will be in the area playing a game against the Long Island Nets on Dec. 27.

Despite the challenges of playing early afternoon games on both Christmas Day and the following matchup with the Knicks, the Bucks express their excitement and cherish the opportunity to play on Christmas. Portis reflected on his childhood memories of watching NBA games on Christmas and sees playing on this special day as a privilege. Guard Damian Lillard, a seven-time all-NBA player, emphasizes the significance of the opportunity to play on Christmas.

The unique schedule has raised questions about the players’ ability to celebrate the holiday with their families, particularly with a noon tip-off for the Christmas Day game. However, the Bucks remain grateful for the chance to play on such a special day, with the added joy of being in New York for the holiday season.

Beasley shared his anticipation of watching future Christmas NBA games with his own children, reminiscing about the special experience of playing in Madison Square Garden on Christmas Day, a memory he plans to share with his family in the years to come.

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