We know all of you Celtics fans out there love to plan ahead, so we're going to give you a little assistance with that. Just make sure you save plenty of vacation time for the fall and winter seasons. And be prepared to call in sick throughout the spring, too, because the Celtics are planning on playing well into June of 2010.
Today marks the first sign that the upcoming NBA season is right around the corner. The 2009-10 Boston Celtics schedule has been released, and we now know the 82-game regular season course the C's must maneuver through to position themselves for the Playoffs and restore their championship lore.
There are plenty of reasons to like what you'll see on this schedule.
First, if you love to see the Celtics take on great teams and players in the Garden, you're going to have plenty of opportunities throughout this season.
Despite the well-chronicled economic situation, it was a very busy offseason in the NBA. There was plenty of high-profile player movement and top-flight draft picks, which means many new-look and upgraded teams coming to the TD Garden.
But don't fret; while other teams were making their moves, the Celtics didn't sit back and watch. They made their own summer splash by luring four-time All-Star and former NBA champion Rasheed Wallace away from the Detroit Pistons. The C's also picked up offensive sparkplug Lester Hudson in the second round of the NBA Draft, and the remainder of the roster is still being molded. There's no doubt that Boston is now even deeper than they had been the past two seasons and are poised to bring home Banner 18.
That quest will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 27 in Cleveland, when the Celtics open their season against LeBron James and the Cavaliers for the second consecutive year. In 2008, the Cavs were in town to watch Banner 17 hoisted to the Garden rafters on Opening Night. This year, the C's will be on the road for game No. 1 for the first time since 2001, when they also opened in Cleveland. The Cavs have added 15-time All-Star Shaquille O'Neal to man the paint and added a slew of other players, including Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon to help James contend for a title this season.
At 7:30 p.m. the following night, the Celtics will be back in Boston for their home opener against the new-look Charlotte Bobcats. Charlotte was markedly better last season after reshaping their roster with Boris Diaw, Raja Bell and Vladimir Radmanovic and they continued to mold this offseason by bringing in Tyson Chandler from New Orleans in exchange for Emeka Okafor.
Mark down the 8 p.m., Oct. 30 matchup, too. The Chicago Bulls will be in town that night to rekindle the rivalry that developed during last season's first-round, seven-game series that many called the best in NBA history.
The Toronto Raptors are coming off of a disappointing 33-49 record and are looking to rebound this season with the additions of Hedo Turkoglu, Marco Belinelli and DeMar DeRozan playing alongside the returning core of Chris Bosh, Jose Calderon and Andrea Bargnani. They figure to be the Celtics' top competition in the Atlantic Division this season and will first visit the Garden at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 27.
During a four-game road trip that spans from the end of November to the beginning of December, Boston will make a stop in San Antonio on Dec. 3 to take on the Spurs. San Antonio is widely regarded as one of the favorites in the West after adding Richard Jefferson, Antonio McDyess and DeJuan Blair this offseason.
As January comes to a close, the Celtics will play host to both teams from Los Angeles in a six-day span. First, the Clippers will be in town on Jan. 25, giving Boston fans their first glimpse of this year's No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, Blake Griffin. On Jan. 31, the Celtics will take on the defending champion Lakers in a 3:30 p.m. Sunday matinee. The Lakers let Trevor Ariza walk in the offseason and brought in Ron Artest to fill the void. The Celtics-Lakers rivalry is always entertaining, but this year it will pit the past two NBA champions against each other.
Some other games to take note of:
- 6 p.m., Nov. 1 vs. New Orleans Hornets
- 7:30 p.m., Nov. 6 vs. Phoenix Suns
- 8 p.m., Nov. 20 vs. Orlando Magic
- 8 p.m., Feb. 3 vs. Miami HEAT
- 10:30 p.m., Feb. 18 @ L.A. Lakers
- 10:30 p.m., Feb. 19 @ Portland TrailBlazers
- 8 p.m., Feb. 25 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
- 8 p.m., March 28 vs. San Antonio Spurs
- 7:30 p.m., March 31 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
- 8 p.m., April 14 vs. Milwaukee Bucks (final game of regular season)
If you're into relaxing on the sofa with your family on the holidays and watching the guys in green on TV, you're going to love this schedule as well.
The C's will be off on Thanksgiving Day and New Year's Eve, but we've got four other holiday games set for you to take in.
On Christmas Day, Boston will be in Orlando to take on the Magic at 2:30 p.m. The Celtics and Magic, who re-tooled their roster in the offseason by acquiring Vince Carter, Brandon Bass, Matt Barnes and Ryan Anderson, should be two of the top teams in the East this season and this Christmas Day matchup will certainly be entertaining.
The C's will be in action for Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 18) when they take on the Dallas Mavericks at 8 p.m. in the Garden. The Mavs are another team that has made some moves this offseason and should be extremely competitive on the court.
One of Boston's most celebrated holidays, St. Patrick's Day, will also have a home game on tap. The Celtics will take on the run-and-gun New York Knicks at 7:30 p.m. that night in what will presumably be an all-green jersey night on the court (everyone has seen those green Knicks jerseys they've sported in the past for St Patty's Day).
The final regular season holiday game will come at 1 p.m. on Easter Sunday when the Celtics host the Cleveland Cavaliers. This game looks to be the premiere sporting event of the day and could possibly be determining the top seed in the Eastern Conference.
Lastly, if you think having a lot of home games at the start and end of the season are critical to a team's performance, you're going to think the Celtics are in business.
Boston will play 10 of its first 16 games on their home parquet this season, with their longest road trip being two-games in that span. Following that stretch of home games, the C's will get a lot of their road schedule out of the way, and quickly. Their stretch from the end of November thru the beginning of January is as brutal as they come. During that time frame, Boston will play 14 of its 19 games on the road. That includes two different stints in which they will play seven of eight games on the road. In the month of December, the Celtics will play in the Garden only four times.
If the C's can manage to get through that stretch healthy and with a solid record, they will be in great shape for the remainder of the season. Their season-long five-game road trip comes in the middle of February and spans 11 days, but other than that, they will not be on the road for more than three consecutive games at any point after Jan. 10. In fact, they'll actually play 17 of their final 28 games in front of their home faithful in preparation for the playoffs, including a season-long six-game homestand from March 24-April 4.
Just like every season, this schedule will have its ups and downs and its twists and turns. It gives us our holiday joy and our road trip lulls. But no matter how you look at it, this schedule will be as entertaining as ever with premiere games scattered throughout the entire season.
On Opening Night of last season, the Celtics were able to celebrate their 2007-08 championship for the final time. On Opening Night this year, they'll be chomping at the bit to bring that celebration back.
Just make sure you plan ahead so that you can be a part of the ride.