The Celtics released their first-half schedule with some intriguing matchups and groups of two-game series to reduce travel because of COVID-19.
The league is scheduled to play 72 regular-season games — instead of the customary 82 games — and also will conduct a postseason play-in tournament. Because of potential COVID-19 issues, the NBA only released the schedule through March 4.
As was released this past week, the Celtics open the season Dec. 23 against the Milwaukee Bucks at TD Garden, then host the Brooklyn Nets, with former Celtic Kyrie Irving and former MVP Kevin Durant, on Christmas Day. Opening night in the NBA is Dec. 22.
Fans will not be allowed into TD Garden for Celtics games until further notice, according to a team spokesman, which is the case for several NBA teams.
The Celtics hit the road for a two-game series with the Indiana Pacers Dec. 27 and Dec. 29, and have a road set at Detroit Jan. 1 and Jan. 3. Each NBA team will play four series in the first half. The Celtics host the Orlando Magic Jan. 13 and Jan. 15 and host the Atlanta Hawks Feb. 17 and Feb. 19.
Boston also will play the Philadelphia 76ers, featuring former coach Doc Rivers, in a two-game road set Jan. 20 and Jan. 22. The Celtics also have a difficult West Coast road trip — Golden State, Sacramento, Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix, and Utah — beginning Feb. 2.
The defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers come to TD Garden Jan. 30 for a nationally televised matchup. Russell Westbrook and the Washington Wizards come to the Garden Jan. 8 and Feb. 28.
The schedule does have its quirks, such as the Celtics facing the Hawks three times in eight days, then playing games at Chicago twice in a 14-day span.
Boston faithful will have to wait for Gordon Hayward to return until at least March because the Celtics do not play the Hornets in the first half. The Celtics get a rematch of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat Jan. 6 at AmericanAirlines Arena, and host Miami Jan. 10.
Each NBA team will play opponents within its conference three times and play opponents in the other conference twice, meaning the Celtics will go back out west to play the Lakers, Denver, Portland, Oklahoma City, Houston, Minnesota, and Memphis in the final 34 games.
|Date||Opponent||Time (Nat'l TV)|
|December 23||vs. Bucks||7:30 p.m. (TNT)|
|Dec. 25||vs. Nets||5 p.m. (ESPN)|
|Dec. 27||at Pacers||8 p.m.|
|Dec. 29||at Pacers||7 p.m.|
|Dec. 30||vs. Grizzlies||7:30 p.m.|