With LeBron James leaving Cleveland to join the Lakers, ending his streak of eight consecutive seasons representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals, the door is open for a new power to rise. And the NBA is making it quite clear that it views the Celtics and 76ers as two of the teams most likely to fill the void.

Boston and Philadelphia will face each other in Boston in the Oct. 16 season opener at TD Garden at 8 p.m. as part of TNT’s season tip-off doubleheader that also includes a game between the Thunder and Warriors. Then on Christmas Day, the Celtics and 76ers will face each other again at TD Garden. That game will be broadcast by ABC.


On Oct. 19 on ESPN, the Celtics will visit the Toronto Raptors as part of the league’s nationally televised opening-week slate. Toronto finished four games ahead of the Celtics in the conference standings last season and last month traded DeMar DeRozan to the Spurs in a deal for star forward Kawhi Leonard.

“It might be a little more intense with a couple of those games with the Philly series,” Celtics center Aron Baynes said. “And we never played well against Toronto last year, so that’s something we’ll be focused on, trying to do better again them. It will be a good measuring stick for us early on. At the same time we’ll have such a big internal focus at that time, it’s about what we can do to improve and keep getting better.”

The Celtics needed just five games to defeat the 76ers in the Eastern Conference semifinals last season, though the series was more competitive than that result indicates. The Celtics will welcome back injured stars Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward this year, while the 76ers will continue to follow the lead of their two young stars, Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.


The Celtics-76ers game on Christmas is one of five matchups on the league’s marquee regular-season date. In the other games, the Knicks will face the Bucks, the Rockets will play the Thunder, the Lakers will play the Warriors, and the Jazz will face the Trail Blazers.

The full NBA schedule is expected to be released later this week.

Opening week schedule
Date Game Time (ET) Network
Tue., Oct. 16 76ers at Celtics 8 p.m. TNT
Tue., Oct. 16 Thunder at Warriors 10:30 p.m. TNT
Wed., Oct. 17 Pelicans at Rockets 8 p.m. ESPN
Wed., Oct. 17 Mavericks at Suns 10:30 p.m. ESPN
Thu., Oct. 18 Bulls at 76ers 8 p.m. TNT
Thu., Oct. 18 Lakers at Trail Blazers 10:30 p.m. TNT
Fri., Oct. 19 Celtics at Raptors 8 p.m. ESPN
Fri., Oct. 19 Warriors at Jazz 10:30 p.m. ESPN
Sat., Oct. 20 Raptors at Wizards 7 p.m. NBA TV
Sat., Oct. 20 Rockets at Lakers 10:30 p.m. ESPN
Sun., Oct. 21 Rockets at Clippers 9 p.m. NBA TV
Christmas Day schedule
Game Time (ET) Network
Bucks at Knicks Noon ESPN
Thunder at Rockets 3 p.m. ABC
76ers at Celtics 5:30 p.m. ABC
Lakers at Warriors 8 p.m. ESPN/ABC
Trail Blazers at Jazz 10:30 p.m. ESPN
Martin Luther King Jr. Day schedule The games scheduled for Jan. 21, 2019.
Game Time (ET) Network
Pelicans at Grizzlies 5:30 p.m. TNT
Rockets at 76ers 8 p.m. TNT
Warriors at Lakers 10:30 p.m. TNT

Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at adam.himmelsbach@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @adamhimmelsbach.