A Daily Babble Production
A year ago at this time, we were celebrating the introduction of Kevin Garnett to the Boston faithful and a newfound wealth of upcoming national television appearances for the Celts after quite a round number the season before.
It's hard to believe it has all come full circle, that a full year later with the 2008-09 schedule upon us, the Celtics are defending champions looking at some 25 (!!!) already scheduled national broadcast appearances -- and that's without counting NBA TV games.
We certainly don't need to add any more hype to the highest-profile events on the schedule -- opening night versus Cleveland, Christmas in Los Angeles and all the other big-deal games on the docket in this championship-defending campaign. But there are 1,230 games on the NBA schedule, which means that there are no doubt a few hidden, er, 'gems' of sorts. So today we continue a tradition begun last year at Taking it to the Rack highlighting some of the less heralded contests to come this season:
October 28: Milwaukee at Chicago - The one opening night game that isn't nationally televised features one team beginning the "It's actually refreshing to have a guy who cares so much, even if he's tough" part of Scott Skiles' tenure and another team thrilled to have closed the book on his time in town several months ago.
October 29: Indiana at Detroit - Didn't the league learn a lesson about putting these two teams together for early-season match-ups in Detroit?
November 3: Detroit at Charlotte - Any time you can get two teams together who have both shown Primoz Brezec the door in the past year, it should get high priority. And remember, current Piston Walter Herrmann was thisclose to making our all-time Bobcats team.
November 5: Charlotte at New York - It's too bad they don't show the introductions on television for all regular season games. We're not sure the actual competition is going to much to write home about, but wouldn't you watch just to see the MSG faithful's warm reception for returning hero Larry Brown?
November 10: New Jersey at Miami - I'm no Vince Carter fan, but any chance to re-unite VC and Alonzo Mourning for more of this or this seems like it could fall into the category of "high watchability." Plus, we could still be in the part of the season where Vince plays hard. Added bonus indeed.
November 19: Chicago at Portland - Hopefully, the Oden-Rose comparison won't turn out quite the way Bowie-Jordan did for the Blazers. The parallel isn't quite exact, but it's worth a shot regardless.
November 29: Oklahoma City at Memphis - I'm a sucker for relocated franchises and bad teams.
December 8: Houston at Memphis - Celebrating the rare trade that worked out for everyone two seasons later: Shane Battier has become one of the league's premier defensive stoppers and glue guys in Houston, and Rudy Gay is a lynchpin of the future in Memphis. Cool.
December 12: Sacramento at LA Lakers - Hard to believe it's only been a few years since this rivalry actually meant something.
December 26: Boston at Golden State - Patrick O'Bryant makes his emotional return to Oaktown. If this doesn't get your blood flowing, I don't know what will. The big question is whether Celtics fans will be ready to leave him there by that point in the season.
December 31: Philadelphia at LA Clippers - What a way to end 2008: Free potshots at Elton Brand all night for a possibly already tipsy set of Clips fans on New Year's Eve.
January 2: LA Clippers at Phoenix - Hey, did you know that the Suns are the only team that has managed to overcome the vaunted Clips in a playoff series over the last decade? Quite an honor to bear.
January 7: New Orleans at Utah - Somebody needs to explain to me how an injury-prone star and a dude who advocates non-cooperation with law enforcement make Miami-Denver a more enticing pick for ESPN than a match-up between the top two active point guards on the planet. This is baffling.
January 24: Washington at Portland - Gil Arenas returns to his favorite spot to place courtside wagers with fans, although it seems worth being wary of guaranteeing too many victories over this year's Blazer squad.
January 30: Milwaukee at Toronto - Wow, that T.J. Ford-Charlie Villanueva deal really made winners all around. Or not.
February 13: Rookie-Sophomore Game - Which team gets Greg Oden?
February 22: New York at Toronto - Perhaps we'll get a recurrence of this career highlight of Zach Randolph's.
March 13: Memphis at Boston - Watching Chris Wallace's current team will give Celts fans one more reason to be thankful that Danny Ainge took over.
March 17: LA Clippers at Golden State - The jilted Clips face off against Kelenna Azubuike, who was retained by the Warriors after LA signed him to an offer sheet. Definitely the biggest non-transaction between these teams this summer.
April 1: LA Lakers at Milwaukee - The start of April marks the opening of "Go crazy, Ramon Sessions!" season in Milwaukee. Fun for the whole family.
April 4: LA Clippers at Denver - The Nugs' have a similar but slightly altered description from that of the Suns: They are the only team in the last decade to lose a playoff series to the vaunted Clips. Revenge is a dish best served cold.
April 15: Sacramento at Minnesota - Season finale: In with a whimper, out with...another whimper.
April 15: New Orleans at San Antonio - A rematch of last year's dynamic seven-game West semis series between newfound division rivals. Ah, there's the 'out with a bang' that we'll need to head us into the 2009 postseason. But there's a long way to go before then, and plenty of hoops to be enjoyed along the way. Let the games begin...in just less than three months.