Why are there no NBA games on Thanksgiving? NFL goes unchallenged on Thursday night

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Sorry, NBA fans. You are all going to have to spend Thanksgiving — deep breath here — talking to your families instead of watching basketball games.

After a 13-game slate on Wednesday night, there will be zero games played on Thursday. Teams will return to action on Friday, but why does every NBA player get the same day off so early in the season? Certainly some folks would sit down and watch hoops while annihilating fresh turkey and mashed potatoes.

Well, the answer to that question is actually quite simple.

NBA POWER RANKINGS: What each team is most thankful for heading into holiday season

Why are there no NBA games on Thanksgiving?

The NBA has never officially stated why it stopped scheduling Thanksgiving games, but it's not hard to land on the logical explanation: The NFL exists.

Yes, football has owned the fourth Thursday of November for several years now. The NBA just isn't interested in getting into a ratings battle with the NFL, as the latter league has continued to deliver monstrous numbers.

From Sports Media Watch's analysis of the 2020 NFL Thanksgiving games:

Even with sports ratings down, Thanksgiving traditions discouraged, a game postponed, and not a single team at .500, the NFL's Thanksgiving games generated massive viewership.

The Washington-Dallas NFL Thanksgiving Day game averaged a 12.0 rating and 30.33 million viewers on FOX, ranking as television's most-watched program since the Super Bowl. Washington's win averaged more viewers than any non-NFL program since the 2017 Academy Awards (32.9M) and any non-NFL sporting event since Game 7 of the 2016 World Series (Cubs-Indians: 40.05M). ...

Earlier in the day, Texans-Lions averaged 23.39 million on CBS — the least-watched Thanksgiving afternoon game since 2009 (Packers-Lions: 21.99M) but still the fourth-most watched game all season (not including Sunday’s games).

The NBA has employed a similar strategy when it comes to the award-winning "NBA on TNT" show, choosing to avoid showing games on the network this season at the same time as the NFL's "Thursday Night Football" broadcasts.

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NBA post-Thanksgiving schedule

Don't worry. NBA action will be back soon. Here's the full schedule for the weekend.

Friday, Nov. 26

Game Time (ET) National TV
Pistons vs. Clippers 3:30 p.m.
Timberwolves vs. Hornets 7 p.m.
Suns vs. Knicks 7 p.m.
Bulls vs. Magic 7 p.m.
Raptors vs. Pacers 8 p.m.
Hawks vs. Grizzlies 8 p.m.
Wizards vs. Thunder 8 p.m.
Celtics vs. Spurs 8:30 p.m.
Bucks vs. Nuggets 9 p.m. NBA TV
Pelicans vs. Jazz 9 p.m.
Trail Blazers vs. Warriors 10 p.m.
Kings vs. Lakers 10:30 p.m.

Saturday, Nov. 27

Game Time (ET) National TV
Timberwolves vs. 76ers 6 p.m.
Knicks vs. Hawks 7:30 p.m.
Suns vs. Nets 7:30 p.m. NBA TV
Magic vs. Cavaliers 8 p.m.
Heat vs. Bulls 8 p.m.
Hornets vs. Rockets 8 p.m.
Wizards vs. Mavericks 8:30 p.m.
Pelicans vs. Jazz 9 p.m.

Sunday, Nov. 28

Game Time (ET) National TV
Warriors vs. Clippers 3:30 p.m.
Bucks vs. Pacers 5 p.m.
Celtics vs. Raptors 6 p.m.
Kings vs. Grizzlies 6 p.m.
Pistons vs. Lakers 9:30 p.m.

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