Red Auerbach would not like this.
As legend goes, Auerbach never wanted his Boston Celtics to play a Christmas home game because team staff and arena workers would lose family time on the holiday. The Celtics often played on Christmas, but never at home. A “home” game on Dec. 25, 1964 against Detroit was played at Madison Square Garden in New York as part of a doubleheader.
Celtics history changes Monday.
For the first time, they’ll be playing at home on Christmas.
It’s part of the NBA’s holiday quintupleheader. The day’s lineup: Philadelphia plays its first Christmas game since 2001 when it visits New York, followed by the NBA Finals rematch with Cleveland at Golden State. Boston hosts Washington in the third game, followed by Houston visiting Oklahoma City, and the nightcap has Minnesota facing the Los Angeles Lakers.
Cleveland’s Dwyane Wade will aim to win on Christmas for the 11th time, which would extend his NBA record. Wade and LeBron James each have exactly 301 points and 76 assists on Christmas, the active leaders in both.
Tilman Fertitta spent $2.2 billion to buy the Houston Rockets this fall, a record purchase price for any NBA team.
Worth every penny.
The Rockets’ numbers are just staggering. They’re an NBA-best 25-4, winners of 14 straight games, are 15-0 with Chris Paul in the lineup and on pace to obliterate the league’s 3-point record for the second straight season.
“It’s cool. We just hoop,” Paul said, in a late entry for understatement of the year. “We get stops, we play in transition. Yeah, we just set screens and we move it, trying to find the open man.”
Houston makes it look that easy.
They beat Utah 120-99 on Monday night, despite trailing by five points going into the fourth quarter. Houston outscored the Jazz by 26 from there, the biggest such margin over the final 12 minutes by any team this season.
They’re on pace to make 1,300 3-pointers. The NBA record for that, set by Houston last season, is 1,181.
And Houston’s 29-game start is tied for the 11th-best in NBA history. The Warriors started 28-1 two seasons ago, Boston started 27-2 in 2008-09 and eight teams (most recently the 2007-08 Celtics) started 26-3.
LeBron James is about to turn 33. He’s in his 15th season.
And he is … getting better?
James is averaging 28.2 points, 9.3 assists and 8.3 rebounds on 57 percent shooting, 41 percent from 3-point range and 78 percent from the line.
In all six of those areas, he’s outperforming his career averages.
The only other players to average 28 points, 9 assists and 8 rebounds in a full season were Oscar Robertson (five times), Russell Westbrook (last season) and James Harden (last season). None of them were in their 30s in those seasons, or shot anywhere near as well as James is this season.
New York’s easy part of the schedule is winding down.
The Knicks played 19 of their first 30 games at home, going 14-5. Away from home, they’re 2-9.
Out of New York’s first 11 road “trips,” 10 were one-gamers. Things will get tougher soon — after Christmas, New York plays 16 of its next 20 on the road.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Some non-Christmas games to watch this week:
— Timberwolves at Nuggets, Wednesday: These teams might be vying for home-court in April.
— Spurs at Jazz, Thursday: Utah looks for consecutive wins over San Antonio for the first time in nearly eight years.
— Clippers at Rockets, Friday: The first of four meetings this season between Chris Paul’s old team and new team.
— 76ers at Raptors, Saturday: Starts a 13-game eve-of-Christmas Eve schedule.
— Magic at Heat, Tuesday: Orlando has won four straight in the all-Florida series.
STAT OF THE WEEK I
— 8 and 24: In tribute to Kobe Bryant, who had both of his Lakers’ jersey numbers retired Monday.
STAT OF THE WEEK II
— It’s all about 3s now. Before this season, seven NBA teams had averaged 10.8 3s per game. So far this season alone, 15 teams are averaging that many.