Another year, and what looks to be another unflattering schedule.
The Boston Celtics, still well into a rebuilding mode, once again are facing a challenging schedule. Beantown will open the 2014-2015 campaign against Kevin Garnett and the Brooklyn Nets, at home, on Wednesday, Oct. 29. This will be the first time Boston opens at home since the 2010-2011 season. A season prior, the C’s waited until late January to face off against Paul Pierce and KG. Now sporting red, white, and blue, “The Truth” will visit the TD Garden for the first, and only time with Washington (give Kris Humphries some love as well!), on Dec 7 (Boston visits D.C. on Dec. 8 and Dec. 27).
Remember when you could catch Beantown on national television almost every week? Since rebuilding is still clearly evident, bid those times a nice goodbye, seriously. The Celtics will play only one nationally televised game during upcoming season, when ESPN will broadcast a matchup between the visiting Atlanta Hawks on Jan. 14. Of the 68 total games to be scheduled on either ABC or TNT for the 2014-2015 slate, Boston holds zero appearances. Just a year prior, Boston was broadcasted three times on ESPN. So, if you question yourself on the teams’ popularity among big-name channels plummeting, don’t be afraid to answer with a firm “yes”. Three of the C’s 82 games will be shown on NBATV, the National Basketball Association’s satellite television network.
Looking at the beginning of the C’s schedule, which you can view in its entirety here, the jam packed month of November isn’t looking smooth, to say the least. The first full month of basketball will be the team’s true test of remaining strong, showing signs of stability, and constantly matching up against playoff contending franchises. Right off the bat, Boston will have a true upward battle if they want to have some early success. Let’s take a look at the Celtics’ challenging November:
NOV. 1: @ Houston Rockets
NOV. 3: @ Dallas Mavericks
NOV. 5: vs Toronto Raptors
NOV. 7: vs Indiana Pacers
NOV. 8: @ Chicago Bulls
NOV. 12: vs Oklahoma City Thunder
NOV. 14: vs Cleveland Cavaliers
NOV. 17: vs Phoenix Suns
NOV. 19: @ Philadelphia 76ers
NOV. 21: @ Memphis Grizzlies
NOV. 23: vs Portland Trail Blazers
NOV. 28: vs Chicago Bulls
NOV. 30: vs San Antonio Spurs
After scanning through these 13 games, I’m positive most would simply say “yikes”. Yikes is alright, because who wouldn’t be worried of such a tough Thanksgiving month? Boston Celtics Nation will always bleed green and root tirelessly for their boys, but it’s going to take a lot of luck to get past most of the teams standing powerfully the way. Of the matchups set in place, I can only come across two games the C’s might not automatically struggle with from tipoff. The Indiana Pacers, losing their centerpiece Paul George to a broken leg and Lance Stephenson to the Charlotte Hornets, are simply not the powerhouse they were during last year’s regular season. As for Philly, still not at the full potential that their future might hold, Boston could make an early run and score a much needed win.
Many top Western Conference teams are packed into the team’s first 4 weeks, and the Celtics will need to have their best performances, arguably of the season, set up for their first month. If not, Beantown could be looking at a depressing 31 days of basketball. The team had six back-to-backs last November, but will have more laid back areas of rest for the first 3 months of the season. Things will being moving at full force come the second half of the season (including 5 back-to-back games in March), and Brad Stevens must echo to his players that building momentum after a forgiving (in terms of rest, not opponents) early schedule is key.
Looking at other notable dates:
Nov. 14: As busy offseason that included the return of some guy named LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers have once again rose as a favorite in the Eastern Conference. The newly energized Cavs will visit The City of Champions for the first time on this date. Kevin Love rumors once cluttered the minds of Boston fans, and this game could be the first time the playoff-less big visits Beantown since running through in early June, if the high profile trade follows through.
Feb. 22: Of course the Los Angeles Lakers and Celtics aren’t the same powerhouses they once were, but the first seasonal matchup between the longtime rivals is always much anticipated. Boston will visit LA for the only time during the 2014-2015 campaign on this date. The C’s will venture to the Staples Center as part of a three-game road trip out West, conveniently after the All-Star break and trade deadline (Can’t tell you if that was sarcasm).
Nov. 30: The champs are coming to Boston. On this date, the San Antonio Spurs will venture to TD Garden for the first time since their 2014 NBA championship victory. A day game is on tap, as tipoff is set for 1 p.m.
*No Christmas game, for a second straight season.
*18 back-to-back games, not much of a challenge with a youthful roster.
*Season closes Apr. 15 against Jason Kidd and the Milwaukee Bucks.
*NBA’s new extended All-Star break: C’s don’t play from Feb. 11, with a visit from the Hawks, to Feb 20 against the Sacramento Kings. Deadline day is Feb. 19. As ESPN’s Chris Forseberg put it, “Go ahead and start the ‘Will Rajon Rondo make the trip to Sacramento this year?’ quips”.
Daniel Carney is the creator, editor, and lead writer for Beantownbasketball.com. He formerly covered the Charlotte Bobcats for rantsports.com. You can follow him on Twitter @dan_jcarney and add him on Google+/LinkedIn.