Here are 11 Celtics games you do not want to miss this season
The NBA on Friday unveiled the entire 2018-19 regular-season schedule. So here are the 11 Celtics games you do not want to miss. For the sake of variety, opponents were not repeated.
1. Jan. 26 vs. Warriors, 8:30 p.m. (ABC)
The Celtics are viewed as an intriguing Finals opponent for Golden State in part because of the relative success they have had against the Warriors. Over the last three years, Boston is 3-3 against the two-time defending champs, including a double-overtime loss. Here’s hoping that both teams are at full strength for this year’s matchups.
Boston’s other game vs. the Warriors: March 5 at Oracle Arena (10:30 p.m., TNT).
2. Feb. 7 vs. Lakers, 8 p.m. (TNT)
Celtics vs. Lakers would occupy a spot on this list even if both teams had G-League-level rosters. But it is this high because both have rosters that are much better than that. This will be LeBron James’s first game in Boston as a Laker, but really Celtics fans should probably thank him, because he got out of the Eastern Conference and joined what was probably his most harmless option. Also, Rajon Rondo will be at TD Garden in a Lakers uniform, which should be weird.
Boston’s other game vs. the Lakers: March 9 at Staples Center (8:30 p.m., ABC).
3. Oct. 16 vs. 76ers, 8 p.m. (TNT)
The NBA didn’t show much schedule creativity by slotting Celtics-76ers games in Boston on the two biggest days of the regular season: opening night and Christmas Day. Opening night gets the nod here, because in addition to continuing the rivalry that was relit in the conference semifinals last season, it will likely mark the returns of Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving in front of a rabid, optimistic home crowd. Hope is usually highest at the start.
Boston’s other games vs. the 76ers: Dec. 25 at TD Garden (5:30 p.m., ABC); Feb. 12 at Wells Fargo Center (8 p.m., TNT); March 20 at Wells Fargo Center (7 p.m., ESPN).
4. Oct. 19 at Raptors, 8 p.m. (ESPN)
Toronto’s latest playoff flameout against the Cavaliers — a four-game sweep in the conference semifinals — made it easy to forget how dominant the Raptors were during the regular season, finishing with 59 wins, four full games ahead of the Celtics. The Raptors then made the biggest trade of the summer, acquiring the All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard from the Spurs in a deal that sent another All-Star, DeMar DeRozan, to San Antonio. This will be Toronto’s season opener, and if Leonard is healthy, it will provide an excellent early-season test for the Celtics.
Boston’s other games vs. the Raptors: Nov. 16 at TD Garden (7 p.m., ESPN); Jan. 16 at TD Garden (8 p.m., ESPN); Feb. 26 at Air Canada Centre (8 p.m., TNT).
5. Nov. 9 at Jazz, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Hayward’s season-ending ankle injury last year sapped Jazz fans of the opportunity to let out their frustrations on him after he bailed on Utah in free agency. The vitriol figures to have subsided this year, partly because so much time has passed, and partly because the Jazz now have a new star to rally behind: second-year guard Donovan Mitchell.
Boston’s other game vs. the Jazz: Nov. 17 at TD Garden (7:30 p.m., NBCSB).
6. Dec. 27 at Rockets, 8 p.m. (TNT)
These teams split a pair of thrilling games last year, with Houston holding a 221-219 edge in combined points and Marcus Smart holding a 1-0 edge over James Harden in head games. If Chris Paul were not injured in the conference finals last season, the Rockets very well could have won the NBA title. Houston is adding former All-Star Carmelo Anthony, but there is some skepticism about whether that is a good thing.
Boston’s other game vs. the Rockets: March 3 at TD Garden (3:30 p.m., ABC).
7. Dec. 12 at Wizards, 7 p.m. (NBCSB)
Remember when this was perhaps the most intriguing rivalry in the East? The tensions between these teams dipped a bit last season — alpha dogs Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder were replaced by the brotherly love of the Morris twins — but we’re not letting this matchup fade just yet. The Wizards added longtime TD Garden agitator Dwight Howard and could be dangerous if John Wall and Bradley Beal can stay healthy.
Boston’s other games vs. the Wizards: March 1 at TD Garden (8 p.m., ESPN); April 9 at Capital One Arena (7 p.m., TNT).
8. Feb. 1 at Knicks, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)
This game itself is not all that special. The Knicks are still pretty terrible, and Kristaps Porzingis won’t even be back from the ACL injury he suffered last season. But this game will be intriguing because it will be Irving’s last appearance in New York as he heads into free agency next summer. The Knicks are rumored to be a likely suitor for Irving, and the point guard will surely be peppered with questions about his interest in New York. His responses could offer a clue about his thinking.
Boston’s other games vs. the Knicks: Oct. 20 at Madison Square Garden (7:30 p.m., NBCSB); Nov. 21 at TD Garden (7:30 p.m., NBCSB); Dec. 6 at TD Garden (8 p.m., TNT).
9. March 18 vs. Nuggets, 7:30 p.m. (NBCSB)
Last season, the Celtics planned a video tribute for Thomas when he returned to Boston with the Cavaliers Jan. 3. But Thomas was still sidelined by an injured hip then, so he asked the Celtics to delay the tribute to Feb. 11. The team agreed to do that, but that was also the day of Paul Pierce’s number retirement ceremony. There was some controversy, and ultimately Thomas asked the Celtics not to honor him that day. Then the Cavs traded him to the Lakers, so it didn’t really matter. Anyway, Thomas is a Nugget now, so this should be his first real Boston homecoming.
Boston’s other game vs. the Nuggets: Nov. 5 at Pepsi Center (9 p.m., NBCSB).
10. Feb. 9 vs. Clippers, 8 p.m. (NBCSB)
The Thunder could easily have gotten the nod here, and anytime Russell Westbrook is in town, it is an event. But we went with the Clippers because of their Boston ties: Doc Rivers, Avery Bradley, and Boston College first-round pick Jerome Robinson. Also, if the Clippers’ 2019 first-round pick ends up 15th overall or later, the Celtics will receive it, so there will be a bit of a draft drama subplot as the season nears its end.
Boston’s other game vs. the Clippers: March 11 at Staples Center (10:30 p.m., NBCSB).
11. Feb. 21 at Bucks, 8 p.m. (TNT)
The Celtics lost all three road games against the Bucks in the first round of the playoffs last season and were outscored by a total of 37 points in those losses. This is the first opportunity for Boston to get rid of that bitter taste, although the presence of Irving and Hayward this time should certainly help.
Boston’s other games vs. the Bucks: Nov. 1 at TD Garden (8 p.m., TNT); Dec. 21 at TD Garden (8 p.m., ESPN).