The 2021-22 NBA schedule – the full schedule, we might add – is out, and that means the Boston Celtics’ season is comin’ in hot.
Friday’s release of the full slate of games is a welcomed return to normalcy for the world of basketball following a 2019-20 season that was put on hiatus, and an abbreviated 2020-21 season that ran through July 20.
The Celtics are now gearing up for their full schedule while looking to return to the top echelon of the conference following a disappointing 2020-21 campaign. There’s a lot to take in from their 82-game schedule, so let’s dive into the most important notes you need to know heading into Opening Night on Oct. 20.
The Holiday Games
As is typical for the most historically rich franchise in the sport of basketball, the Celtics will be highlighted on and around multiple holidays this upcoming season.
The holiday get-togethers begin the day before Halloween, as the Celtics are set to take on the Wizards at 5 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 30 in D.C. Boston will next play into the holiday theme the day before and the day after Thanksgiving, which is a recent tradition for the team. They’ll open up that stretch with a spicy 7:30 p.m. matchup with the Nets Nov. 24 at TD Garden, before taking on the Spurs at 7:30 p.m. the day after Thanksgiving in San Antonio.
Boston is set to play on Christmas Day for the sixth consecutive year, as it will take on the Bucks at 2:30 p.m. in Milwaukee on ABC. It will also close out 2021 by hosting the Magic for a 7:30 tip off on New Year’s Eve.
There is only one holiday on which the C’s are scheduled to play in 2022, and that holiday is an important one to the league: Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Boston returns to playing on MLK day after a year off, as it is scheduled to host Zion Williamson and the Pelicans for a 1 p.m. matchup on Jan. 18 at TD Garden.
The Nationally Televised Games
In a similar vein to the holiday games, the NBA wants to highlight these Celtics in front of a national audience. That’s why Boston is scheduled to play 21 of its 82 games – good for 25.6 percent – on national TV.
Eleven of those games will be played on ESPN, with the first arriving on Opening Night against the New York Knicks. Boston will play six times on TNT, including a stretch of four games from Feb. 8 through March 3. Its four ABC games will be played against Milwaukee on Christmas Day, against Atlanta on Feb. 13, against Brooklyn on March 6, and against Dallas on March 13.
First-year head coach Ime Udoka can’t be excited about the amount of back-to-backs his team was dealt for this season, especially considering that two of them will be played during a five-game trip out West that includes five contests against playoff teams from last season. Boston is scheduled to play 15 back-to-backs in all, compared to the league average of 13.7. On top of that, four of those back-to-backs require changing time zones for the second game, which is also above the league average of 3.5.
There are a few other notes that jump out regarding Boston’s back-to-backs. The C’s will play the two LA teams – both considered to be title contenders if healthy – on back-to-back days on Dec. 7 and 8 in Los Angeles. They’ll also play the revamped Miami Heat (Nov. 4) and the defending-champion Milwaukee Bucks (April 7) on the second night of a back-to-back.
Lastly, Boston will take on its budding divisional rival, the Knicks, twice on the second night of a back-to-back. The first such game will be played Dec. 18 at TD Garden, and the second will be played Jan. 6 at Madison Square Garden. As is well known by both teams’ fan bases, the Knicks swooped in and added both Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier this offseason after both players competed last season for the C’s.
The Homestands and Road Trips
There are no extended homestands or road trips for Boston this season. Each will max out at five games, as the team will play a five-game road trip from Dec. 3-10 that will be immediately followed by a five-game homestand from Dec. 13-22. That homestand spans only five games, but the C’s will be in Boston for 13 consecutive days until they travel to Milwaukee for the Christmas Day game.
The Celtics will also play two four-game road trips, one from Nov. 3-8 and another from March 16-21, and one four-game homestand from Jan. 15-21.
The Monthly Breakdown
The monthly breakdown of Boston’s schedule is rather consistent. The team will play between 15 and 17 games from November through January, maxing out at 17 during November. March is the month that is the least dense, as the C’s will play only 14 games, eight of which will be played at home.
The team’s top month in terms of home games will be January, when 10 of its 16 games will be played inside the confines of TD Garden. Its heaviest road month will be November, which will feature nine of 17 games being played on the road.
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