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Rockets to host Thunder on Christmas Day among early schedule notables

The Rockets will look to get revenge from last year’s Christmas loss.

NBA: Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

For the second straight year, the Rockets will face the Thunder on Christmas Day. However, this year, the venue changes from the road to the friendly confines of the Toyota Center.

There is a lot of recent history between the Rockets and Thunder. The rivalry began nearly six years ago when the Thunder dealt reigning MVP James Harden to Houston. The Russell Westbrook injury against the Rockets in the playoffs the following season only added more fuel to the flame. Then, former teammates Harden and Westbrook took part in the most competitive race for MVP in recent memory, ultimately going in Westbrook’s favor, but the Rockets got the last laugh in the playoffs. And now, the Rockets have added former Thunder swingman Carmelo Anthony to the mix.

Face it, this is one of the bigger rivalries in the game today. It’s not the nastiest, which is probably why we are seeing it on Christmas, but it will get fans all over the country to the TV screens. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. CT on December 25.

As for tipoff week, the Rockets open their season at home against Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans at 7 p.m. CT as the first part of an ESPN doubleheader with the Mavericks visiting the Suns in the second game.

The second game of the season will send the Rockets to Hollywood to face LeBron James in his Los Angeles debut on Saturday, October 20. The game tips off at 9:30 p.m. CT and can be seen on ESPN.

The Rockets will then suit up the following night to complete their Staples Center back-to-back as they face the Clippers. Tipoff is at 8 p.m. CT on NBATV.

Flash forward to January and the Rockets will head up to Philadelphia to face the 76ers in the second game of a TNT tripleheader. The Rockets-76ers game will be sandwiched between Pelicans vs. Grizzlies and Warriors vs. Lakers. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. CT.

What do you think of the Rockets’ marquee matchups? Chime off in the comments below.