Unlike last season, when it felt like the Boston Celtics played three out of every four days, this season has already had gaps of four and three days between games. Such time off is becoming increasingly more common in the NBA, as the league has worked to reduce back-to-back and three-in-four-night situations. Instead of knowing you had an almost nightly appointment to watch the Celtics, you’ve probably had to look at the schedule to see if there is a game from night to night. But that’s about to change.
As of Tuesday December 18th, Boston has played 29 games. Last year, the Celtics played a front-loaded schedule, at their request, due to the week-long trip to London, England to play the Philadelphia 76ers. With no such trip in sight this year, Boston has played a much more balanced schedule to date. But that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been without some quirks.
As mentioned above, the Celtics have already had separate stretches of four and three days off. The four-day gap between games was treated almost as a mini-training camp. This latest three-day period came at exactly the right time, with the team working through some injuries and illnesses. Now, with the holidays looming, Boston will hit a stretch that sees them play virtually every other day through the All-Star break. Even then, the schedule still has twists. One even favors the Celtics!
When Boston plays tomorrow, Wednesday December 19th, it will kick off a four-game homestand. The Celtics get the Phoenix Suns, then three straight Eastern Conference playoffs teams: the Milwaukee Bucks, Charlotte Hornets and Philadelphia 76ers.
Then the guys in green pack their bags and head on a three-game road trip that takes them to Houston, then to Memphis and back to Texas to finish up in San Antonio.
The Celtics then return to Boston for four more home games in a row! They’ll host the Minnesota Timberwolves, Dallas Mavericks, Brooklyn Nets and Indiana Pacers during this leg in early January.
Then it’s a weekend trip down south to play the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic, with a stopover to play the Nets again on the way back to Boston, this time in Brooklyn.
But the home-away-home stretch of games doesn’t stop there. The Celtics then play seven of nine games in the TD Garden, sandwiched around a trip to Atlanta to close out the month of January.
Overall, the schedule looks like this:
· 4 home
· 3 away
· 4 home
· 3 away
· 2 home
· 1 away
· 5 home
Following a part of the schedule where the Celtics had to take a flight before 14 consecutive games, having these periods of games in Boston should really help keep legs fresh.
In addition, to date, the Celtics have played the second-fewest home games so far at just 12 games in the TD Garden. That’s just one more than the Jazz, who have played only 11 times in Utah. Through the next month and a half, Boston will play 15 games at home and just seven on the road.
Boston had to rebuild (maybe even build in the first place!) chemistry throughout the early part of the year, with Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward and Daniel Theis returning from injury. They also had to do it while playing one of the NBA’s heaviest road schedules throughout the first third of the season.
With players seemingly slotting into roles that make sense and battling through some early injuries, Boston recently won eight straight games to right the ship after an up-and-down start. With 15 home games over the next month and a half, we should see the Celtics round into the Finals contender many expected them to be this season.