On Monday, the NBA released the regular season schedules for all 30 teams. It was a nice bit of news as we are trudging through the dog days of summer. Now with some concrete dates in front of us, let the speculation begin about the upcoming season.
At first glance for the Celtics, the schedule sets up for the team to have quite a bit of travel compared to the other teams in the league. The Celtics travel the fifth most miles in the league and the most miles in the Eastern Conference. The schedule release finally puts real stakes and dates on the upcoming season. Let’s see how this season will shape up.
Celtics have released their schedule: pic.twitter.com/uGCklEbGbx— Boston.com Celtics News (@BDCCeltics) August 12, 2019
It is important that the Celtics start the season off on a good note. With all the turmoil from last year, tensions will be high to see how the new Celtics team looks early on in the season. However, that will not be an easy task as the team starts the season off in Philadelphia against our old friend Al Horford. You know that team will want a win more than anything after the Celtics have owned them head-to-head over the past few seasons. Also, this highlights one of the biggest questions for the Celtics on defense. Who will guard Joel Embiid now? That question will quickly be addressed in the first game of the season.
The month of October doesn’t get much easier as the Celtics then host the Kawhi-less Toronto Raptors in the home opener and then two games later host the Milwaukee Bucks who are ready to win the Eastern Conference again. It will be a very early litmus test for the Celtics to see how they stack up against their biggest conference competition with all the teams hopefully healthy early on in the season.
Once November gets into full swing, the team will hopefully be getting back to full strength with their legs fully under them. The schedule sets up nice early on with a Kemba Walker reunion in Charlotte November 7th. It will be a special day for him as the city should embrace his tenure as a Hornet.
Throughout the middle part of November, the Celtics will go on their first West coast road trip. It again starts with Golden State on a Friday night game going all the way through the next week. This trip last year was later in the year, but it was the infamous plane ride that “brought the team back together.” Hopefully there will not be any crises for a dramatic plane flight again.
Speaking of drama, the end of the month is what the city of Boston has been waiting for. On November 27th, Kyrie Irving comes back to Boston. It will be an absolute madhouse that night with the fans letting Kyrie know their built up frustrations over these past months. Then, two days later, the Celtics head to Brooklyn to face the Nets once again.
The month of December is where the Celtics should take advantage of their schedule. They face the Cleveland Cavaliers and Hornets twice, with Terry Rozier coming back to Boston December 22nd, and also face the Knicks at home as well. Those teams should be in the bottom third of the conference and should be sure wins to boost the record.
Also in December, is the return of Al Horford to Boston. Unlike Kyrie, this reunion should be a pleasant one as the fans remember Horford for his leadership and team first mentality. It should be a great scene that night but yet, still another tough match-up against Philly.
The Celtics once again will play on Christmas Day in the early game with a 12:00 tip-off against the Toronto Raptors.
It is a star-studded lineup for January. The Celtics will have two three-game home stands that will be a nice break as the season starts to take a toll. It will not be an easy month, however, as they will host LeBron James and Anthony Davis with the Los Angeles Lakers, rookie phenom Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans, and Steph Curry (and maybe Klay Thompson by that point) and the Warriors.
In addition to those major primetime games, the Celtics will also travel to Philly and Milwaukee again for tough road games. At this point in the season, we will really know what the Celtics are made of and if the season will be heading in the right direction.
The grind really starts in February when the season starts to slow down and the All-Star Break is always much needed. Unfortunately for the Celtics, this is when the Western Conference road trips really swing into gear. Before the break, they travel out to Oklahoma City to face the Thunder and then two days later travel down to Houston to take on the new look Rockets with Russell Westbrook pairing up with James Harden. After that, the Celtics come home for a big matchup against the Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and the Los Angeles Clippers right before the break.
After the time off, the Celtics go back out west with games against the Timberwolves, Lakers, Trail Blazers, and Jazz. Then cap off the month with the Rockets at home. February will be one of their hardest months of the season and will need to grind through these games to stay afloat in the East.
It doesn’t slow down for the Celtics in March as they face many of the Western Conference teams at home this time. The Jazz, Thunder, Trail Blazers, and Timberwolves all visit Boston. The team will always be competitive in these home games and will be very important to take these wins.
The Eastern Conference will be deeper than people think this season, and this Celtics team will be in the thick of it for most of the season. Seeding will be very important, and other road games in Indiana, Milwaukee, Toronto, and Brooklyn will go a long way to that playoff goal during March.
The final stretch. It will all come down to these eight games in April to determine their playoff match-ups. It stacks up nicely for Boston as they have five home games and the only road games being against the Orlando Magic, Miami Heat, and Detroit Pistons. They can make a back end run to tally up some more wins to secure home court for the first round.
To recap, the Boston Celtics will be tested and have to show their toughness right out of the gate. They play the top teams in the Eastern Conference early in the schedule. It will show what the fan base should expect for the season, of course open to improvements or unfortunate injuries. The schedule also shows to be a grind during the long, tough stretch against those Western Conference teams in February and March. The team will have an identity by that mark.
At the end of the day, it is just great to have games to think about and dates to pair with them. October 23rd can not come soon enough.