BOSTON – The Boston Celtics have been anxiously waiting to hit the parquet floor ever since their season came to an end in late May, when they fell to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals.
There’s still two months to go until the 2018-19 regular season begins, but at least the C’s can begin marking up their calendars now that the NBA schedule has officially been released.
With all 82 games mapped out, it’s time to take a look at some of the details that the upcoming six-month grind will entail.
An Even Earlier Start
The Celtics opened last season on Oct. 17, marking their earliest start in 37 years. This season will tip off even sooner.
Boston will set up shop Oct. 16 against the Philadelphia 76ers at TD Garden for its earliest regular-season start since Game 1 of the 1980-81 championship season.
This opener is also unusual in that it will be followed by two days of rest. Boston typically has one or fewer days off following its first game, such as the last two seasons that both opened with a back-to-back. This time, however, the Celtics will be able to take a breather for a couple of days before heading up to Toronto for Game 2 on Oct. 19.
Back-to-backs will be few and far between for the Celtics this season, again thanks to the early start. Boston will play on consecutive days just 12 times throughout the 2018-19 campaign, and none of those back-to-backs will combine for the previously-dreaded four-games in five-nights spell.
With all of that said, the C’s will have to endure five back-to-backs during the first seven weeks of the season.
Boston’s most grueling back-to-back distance-wise will be a 1,122-mile trek from Boston to Minneapolis between games against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Nov. 30 and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Dec. 1.
The shortest distance covered in between back-to-backs will be a mere 69 miles. That’s how far the C’s will travel from Oakland to Sacramento between their matchups against the Warriors on March 5 and the Kings on March 6.
Homestands and Road Trips
The Celtics will get most of their extensive homestands and road trips out of the way before the calendar turns over to 2019.
Boston’s longest road trip of the campaign will be a five-gamer beginning at the end of Week 3. The nine-day journey tips off Nov. 3 in Indianapolis, then it’s off to Denver, Phoenix and Salt Lake City, respectively, before wrapping up Nov. 11 in Portland.
Boston’s longest homestand will be a five-game stretch spanning from Jan. 21-30. Over the course of those 10 days, the C’s will host Miami, Cleveland, Golden State, Brooklyn and Charlotte, respectively, all while not having to leave the comforts of TD Garden.
Aside from that, there will be only three other homestands and road trips that exceed three games. There will be two separate four-game homestands during an 11-game span from Dec. 19-Jan. 9. And there will be a four-game West Coast trip from March 5–11 that will include stops in Oakland, Sacramento and Los Angeles to face both the Lakers and the Clippers.
Free Up Your Weekends
For fans who can’t catch weeknight games because of work or school commitments, we have some good news for you: nearly half of Boston’s games this season fall on the weekend.
The C’s will play 13 Friday night games, 18 Saturday games (one in the afternoon and 17 at night) and six Sunday games (two in the afternoon and four at night). That right there makes up 37 games of the season.
As for the weekday schedule, the C’s will have 12 Monday matchups, nine Tuesday tilts, 15 Wednesday contests and nine Thursday contests.
The Celtics have been gifted plenty of basketball for the upcoming holiday season.
First up is a Christmas Day rivalry matchup between the Celtics and 76ers at TD Garden. One week later, the C’s will ring in 2019 with a New Year’s Eve battle in San Antonio. (Although, they’ll actually ring in the New Year from the stratosphere during their flight back to Boston.)
Martin Luther King Jr. Day will be added back onto Boston’s schedule with a home matchup against the Miami Heat. It did not play on the holiday last season because of its London trip.
Per usual, there will be no Celtics basketball on Thanksgiving, but the team will still have business to attend that day. The C’s will feast on their turkey up in the sky as they fly down to Atlanta to tip off a three-game road trip that begins on Black Friday.
Boston will also have St. Patrick’s Day off, but fans can still watch their Green go for the gold the day before, as the C’s host the Hawks in a Saturday afternoon showdown.
Typically, the Celtics have at least one jam-packed month per season. This season, there are none to be found.
The highest monthly total of games that Boston will have to endure is 15. That number will be reached three times, during the months of November, January and March. Of the 15 games in January, a whopping 11 will be played at home.
December will contain 14 games and February will carry just 11 contests, thanks to the All-Star break.
The opening and closing months will feature the fewest number of regular season games, with October holding seven and April containing five, before heading into the Playoffs.
The lightest months with be the opening month of October (seven games) and the closing month of April (five games). And that will take us right into the postseason.