The 10 Most Underrated Games on Celtics' 2021-22 Schedule
There’s a long list of hyped up games on Boston’s 2021-22f schedule. There’s also a long list of underrated games that might not catch one’s eye upon initial review.
That’s why we’re here. We went beyond the obvious matchups and put together a list of our 10 most underrated games of the season, and you can find that list below.
No. 10 – Dec. 18 vs. New York Knicks
Boston vs. New York was fun last season thanks to Tom Thibodeau and Julius Randle revitalizing the Knicks. This year, these matchups will add an additional punch (or two).
Evan Fournier and Kemba Walker both departed Boston this offseason and eventually signed on with the Knicks. The upstart Knicks essentially brought back the same team and added Fournier and Walker to it. This matchup will mark the first time Fournier and Walker return to TD Garden to hear the Celtics’ faithful’s jeers as visitors.
No. 9 – Nov. 6 at Dallas Mavericks
It’s tough to be underrated when you’ve got one of the best players in the world on your roster, but that might just be what the Dallas Mavericks are heading into this season. The league is now so balanced, with so many competitive teams, that Luka Doncic and the Mavs aren’t necessarily regarded as top contenders. But they sure are going to be really good, and really fun to watch, if only for the presence of Doncic.
No. 8 – Nov. 17 at Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta surprised the basketball world by advancing to the Conference Finals last season on the wings of Trae Young’s incredible play. Yet it might just be underrated as well.
Some might believe Atlanta’s playoff run was a fluke. That’s fine. But it’s impossible to deny the fact that the Hawks went 37-19 from March 2 through the end of the postseason. Boston went 1-2 against the Hawks last season and will be looking to flip that script this season.
No. 7 – Nov. 1 vs. Chicago Bulls
There may be no team in the league that took a bigger leap this offseason than the Bulls. Chicago, which already had Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic along with promising youngsters like Patrick Williams and Coby White, added DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso to the mix. That’s a heck of a summer.
Boston and Chicago, along with a handful of other teams, will undoubtedly be jockeying for playoff positioning throughout the season. This will be the first time their new rosters meet.
No. 6 – March 3 vs Memphis Grizzlies
It might not be obvious, because they had a quick exit from the Playoffs last season, but the Memphis Grizzlies actually got better last year.
Memphis logged a 38-34 record last season after surprising the league and playing its way into the play-in games inside the 2019-20 bubble. They are still led by Ja Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr., but added Steven Adams and Rajon Rondo this offseason. The young Grizzlies are on a strong development track and will be a tough opponent every night.
No. 5 – Jan. 19 vs. Charlotte Hornets
Boston won two of its three games last season against a Charlotte team that may have competed for a top-six spot in the East had it not lost Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball for a stretch of five-plus weeks and lost Gordon Hayward for the final month of the season.
Hayward is one of two Hornets, along with Terry Rozier, who last played for the C’s, which adds some juice to this matchup. The Hornets also added Kelly Oubre Jr., Mason Plumlee, Ish Smith and first-round picks James Bouknight and Kai Jones to a team that is undoubtedly on the up-and-up.
No. 4 – Jan. 31 vs. Miami Heat
Ah, the good ol’ days are back. Boston vs. Miami is again one of the premier matchups in the Eastern Conference.
While the Celtics are playing to return to the upper echelon of the East with largely the same core, Miami used an offseason spending spree to try to catapult itself back into the Finals. The Heat added Kyle Lowry, P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris to the roster while also re-signing Duncan Robinson and Victor Oladipo.
This contest will mark the first time they’ll meet at TD Garden this season, before potentially needing to go through each other in the Playoffs.
No. 3 – April 6 at Chicago Bulls
Another Chicago game, but for a different reason. By this point of the season, at Boston’s 80th game, at least a handful of teams will be competing for playoff positioning in the East. Boston and Chicago are likely to be two of those teams. Playoff seeds may very well be on the line during this game, and would guarantee a heck of a show at TD Garden.
No. 2 – Feb. 11 vs. Denver Nuggets
Remember the Denver Nuggets? The team that went to the Conference Finals in the bubble and has the reigning NBA MVP plus a strong cast around him?
You might have forgotten because they lost their star point guard Jamal Murray to a torn ACL in mid-April and were therefore removed from title contention. But with Nikola Jokic around, and with the continued growth of Michael Porter Jr. and a full season of Aaron Gordon, plus the eventual return of Murray, Celtics-Nuggets is a matchup which everyone should be eying.
No. 1 – Feb. 16 vs. Detroit Pistons
Look, there’s no sugar coating it: the Pistons coming to town hasn’t been a draw in years. But things might just be a changin’ in Detroit.
The Pistons won the NBA Draft Lottery and the rights to select consensus No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham with that selection. Cunningham is a big guard who is believed to be a franchise-altering talent, and one who performed as such during the NBA Summer League. He averaged 18.7 points, 5.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.3 blocks per game in Las Vegas while shooting 50 percent from long range.
Cunningham’s presence alone makes this a must-see game at TD Garden. Throw in the return of former Celtic Kelly Olynyk with his new team, and that’s just icing on the cake.