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How to plan for the five biggest Celtics games

A handy guide to the top games this season

Golden State Warriors v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Celtics’ 2018 regular season schedule was released on Friday, and Celtics fans got their first look at what the structure of a (hopefully) championship season would entail. While we might miss the regular season right now, the fact is that sometimes the regular season can be a bit of a grind for more casual fans. Folks who are savvy with their time might want to plan out exactly which games to prioritize as a hot ticket.

Fortunately, I’m here with a full-service resource on game attendance for the upcoming year. Not only will I hand pick the games that are sure to be important, but also offer a light guide to maximizing your in-game experience and planning around your attendance.

#5 October 16th, 2018: 76ers at Celtics

Boston Celtics v Philadelphia 76ers - Game Four Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Ah, Opening Night...when the emotions of the upcoming season are running wild and there are endless possibilities. The Celtics are hoping for a bounce-back Opening Night and the renewed rivalry with the Sixers is a good place to start, considering their first game against the Sixers last year ignited at 16-game winning streak.

The Celtics have established themselves as the big brother in the divisional rivalry thus far and the game will be a good starting point to see if the additions of Wilson Chandler and a healthy Markelle Fultz have shrunk the gap between the two teams. Celtics fans will also get to see the progress that Ben Simmons has made on his jumper over the offseason first-hand. While I don’t have Simmons’ three point shooting numbers in front of me, feel free to sound off in the comments if you know how many three pointers he hit last year.

All in all, Opening Night will be a fun way to see how Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving look in a full-speed game, how the regular season rotation will work, and whether or not the Celtics can declare themselves the cream of the Eastern Conference crop early.

How to prepare:

Tell everyone that you are observing the 399th anniversary of the Pilgrims setting sail on the Mayflower and will need to be late to the office the next day. It may be tough to be excused from work the following day if you suddenly spring this on management, so begin building your case as early as possible. Wear the fun Pilgrim hat and tell everyone at lunch breaks about how you are “a real Mayflower junkie.” I recommend purchasing several t-shirts that say “I (Heart) Pilgrims” or maybe “Pilgrims Rock!” or even “I Brake for Pilgrims.” With any luck, you will quickly become known as “the Pilgrim guy” around the office and it won’t raise any eyebrows at all when you request the next day off.

Mission Accomplished.

#4 November 17th, 2018: Jazz at Celtics

Utah Jazz v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

An interesting stat for this year: three of the Celtics four games against Toronto this year will come on the first night of a back-to-back. This includes Boston’s first home game against the Raptors in a nationally televised ESPN game. That will likely be a high emotion, tough fought game, but the Celtics will need to come back the very next night for Gordon Hayward’s debut against a tough Jazz team.

The Celtics and Jazz have had some hard fought contests in recent years, and Hayward's former Jazz teammates (notably Rudy Gobert) have been vocal about their disapproval of his decision last summer. It should be a feisty game and one where a tired Celtics team will need to find their legs.

How To Prepare

This is a Saturday evening game, so you will primarily be working against friends and family in order to ensure attendance at this game. This game is mercifully out of wedding season, but every once in a while someone will try to get cute with fall nuptials. In order to work against that possibility, it never hurts to begin with a little prevention. I present to you the wedding invite prevention tactic known as “the Mallard Fillmore approach.”

For this you will need to invest in a tie that has mallard ducks on it. This is tame enough that you will be allowed into events with this “acceptable garb.” However, whenever talking to anyone, bring the subjects back to the syndicated comic strip Mallard Fillmore and get extremely upset if anyone tries to move away from the talking points of the cartoon. This works during any family gathering or high holiday, and I should know because I have tried this out SEVERAL times to great success. I’m hardly invited to any parties at all anymore. You know what that means. Free and easy scheduling for Celtics games.

#3 March 18, 2019: Nuggets at Celtics

Cleveland Cavaliers v Boston Celtics - Game Two Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

This game might not pop on a lot of folks to-watch lists, but I think it one that will be well worth the ticket price. The Nuggets feature one of the most high octane offenses in the NBA and some of the worst defense to go with it. The game will be a high scoring affair that should be a lot of fun to watch, to say nothing of seeing the wonderful passing of Nikola Jokic in person.

Of course, the reason for the ticket is the possibility of the long-awaited tribute for a healthy Isaiah Thomas to the TD Garden, after an awkward public announcement by Paul Pierce denouncing an IT tribute before his retirement ceremony was rendered moot by Thomas’ trade to LA. Many Celtics fans, including myself, still consider Thomas one of the best Celtics in recent memory and I expect him to get a warm welcome.

How to Prepare

This game falls on a Monday, so the easy thing to do is call in sick on Tuesday with “an acute case of the Mondays.” Since you will be missing work on Tuesday, this may not make a ton of sense to your employer. For one, they may say that “a case of the Mondays” is not a valid reason to take sick time the day after.

Explain that in the Jungian pursuit of self-actualization, you have found yourself an outlet that acts as a balm on your soul. Explain that in this age of intense inter-connectivity afforded by the internet, alienation has only grown more profound and achieving community wherever it can be found is of the utmost importance. That is what it means to have “a case of “the Mondays,” to be constantly searching for this sense of belonging.

Jackie, if you are reading this please let me miss work for the game. Please, I need this so badly.

#2 March 5th, 2019: Celtics at Warriors

Golden State Warriors v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Celtics and Warriors have split their regular season series each of the last three years. Four of those games have been separated by five or fewer points at the end of the game. The Warriors swept the Celtics in 2014-2015 but the final scores of those games were separated by five and three points respectively. The point here is that the Celtics and Warriors always play close games, and that’s particularly interesting this year, given that this would be one of the more likely Finals match ups.

The teams will also square off in Boston in late January, however, I expect this to be the more important match up. If two teams have a tied record at the end of the season, head to head match ups will determine who has home court in the NBA Finals. There’s a reasonable chance that this ends up mattering, so it’s actually in both teams’ best interest to win these games. The Celtics have won two of their last three contests in The Bay and will need to treat take an early March match up seriously, given the possible championship implications.

How to Prepare:

Before venturing into enemy territory, the most important thing to remember is not to draw attention to yourself. Blending in will be important to Celtics fans who want to attend this road contest. With that in mind, I have some tips for blending in amongst Warriors fans.

  • Bring an orb of raw water: Raw water (untreated water) is all the rage in the tech industry and drinking tap or bottled water will be a dead giveaway that you are an outsider. Keep that orb handy at all times.
  • Talk About Truckee: I’m not sure what this is, but Warriors fans seem to love it. If anyone asks you, you go to Truckee “at least four times a month”.
  • Berate Kevin Durant: This is important. Your first instinct may be to cheer Kevin Durant, right? WRONG. True Warriors fans complain about Durant constantly and find an opportunity to compare him to Steph Curry. If one does not present itself, create it. For example, if Durant hits a shot, nudge the person in the seat next to you and remark about how Kevon Looney was “wide open.”

#1 October 19th, 2018: Celtics at Raptors

Toronto Raptors v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The importance of this game is self explanatory. Only the second game of the season, it will be the Celtics first game against the new look Raptors, who figure to be vastly improved if they are able to field a healthy Kawhi Leonard. Many yaking pundits (including myself) anticipate that the Raptors will be the Celtics primary competition this year.

This speculation goes beyond the addition of Leonard, as Toronto has accrued a roster of multi-positional wings that rivals Boston’s own and will no doubt create an interesting chess match. The Raptors still have a young roster and should see expected improvement from their younger ranks. Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby in particular could improve to a point where Toronto has one of the most dangerous starting lineups in the league. It will be interesting to see how the Celtics and Brad Stevens handle an opponent with similar positional versatility, and the team that is able to take advantage will almost certainly win the East.

How to Prepare:

Something that most people don’t know about me is that I grew up a short 20 minute drive from the Canadian border. This means that I went to school with a lot of friends who had Canadian families and they taught me all the tricks of the trade to getting over the border with no fuss. Utliizing their advice, I was able to acquire a pass that allowed me to travel between the national port, a “passport” if you will.

Having one of these “passports” is an essential life hack to crossing over into Canada and being able to watch the Celtics take on the Raptors live. It may sound complicated to acquire one of these, but I was able to get in touch with a nice “family” member who agreed to get a passport in exchange for me bringing a package across the border. I’m still being detained at the Clair NB border crossing station, and I’ve been told by my lawyer that I’ve caused an “international incident” but all’s well that ends well and I expect to have this resolved long before the game this October.

They’ve found my phone and are trying to confiscate it, but if anyone knows anyone at the embassy, please forward me their contact information.

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