10 can’t-miss Celtics games in 2017-18
The NBA schedule dropped earlier this week, giving every team an idea of the 82-game slate staring them in the face this season.
Like any schedule, it will become a grind at some point, and there’s simply not enough time to get amped for Game No. 65 of the regular season, I know. So here are 10 must-watch Celtics game to be played in a 2017-18 season schedule loaded with primetime games and top-tier matchups for the Green.
10. London Calling (Thurs. Jan. 11, 3 p.m. vs. 76ers at The O2 Arena)
The Celtics and Sixers will square off in a game in London on Jan. 11. I don’t know what it really does for the NBA or the Celtics, but hey, it’s a game in a unique place, so watch it. That reminds me: I still want to see the Celtics play a game at Fenway Park some fall or spring. You’ve already had hockey, soccer, and football games there. Let’s get wild.
9. Rockets in Boston (Thurs. Dec. 28, 8:30 p.m. vs. Rockets at TD Garden)
I want to say that the Chris Paul and James Harden will score a billion points and make the West entertaining (it wasn’t literally anything but entertaining last season, as the Warriors went 12-0 en route to the NBA Finals, and finished their postseason 16-1), but I need to see it first. Also, you’ll want to watch these two offensive dynamos go against the Celtics in what should be an utterly ridiculously high-scoring affair.
8. Cheering The Brow (Tues. Jan. 16, 7:30 p.m. vs. Pelicans at TD Garden)
With Gordon Hayward officially a member of the Celtics, fans will have to find a new superstar to try and coax into coming to Boston with some cheers at his visit to TD Garden. The primary target in this regard will most definitely be Pelicans star Anthony Davis. A straight-up frontcourt monster that would put the Celtics over the top as the class of the NBA (even with the cap complications it’d come with), the C’s are expected to be in on Davis should the Pelicans make him available this season or next offseason, and you can expect a raucous Garden crowd to let him know that they’d certainly love to see him come to Boston. Can somebody please be sure to tell Celtics forward Jae Crowder that it’s nothing personally against him when they do it this time around, too.
7. Big Baller Brand (Wed. Nov. 8, 8 p.m. vs. Lakers at TD Garden)
Thanks to his immense overexposure, I have taken it upon myself to relentlessly root against anything related to LaVar Ball. Fortunately for me, his son Lonzo plays for the Lakers, and will go against the Celtics for the first time in his NBA career in November. The good news: If Ball is any good, the Celtics-Lakers rivalry could go through a bit of a revival, which only means good things for the game of basketball. I also can’t wait to see what absolutely heinous Big Baller Brand sneakers Ball wears this season.
6. Can Stevens finally topple Spurs? (Mon. Oct. 30, 7 p.m. vs. Spurs at TD Garden)
Gregg Popovich’s Spurs are the only team that Celtics coach Brad Stevens has yet to beat in his NBA coaching career, with Stevens holding an 0-8 record against them. They’ve gotten close of late, though, with three-straight single-digit losses to the Spurs, and with a three-point loss in Dec. 2015 serving as their closest brush with victory.
It means nothing in the grand scheme of things, I know, but it could mean a lot given the admiration and respect these coaches have for another, and could serve as a lesson that Stevens can accomplish just as much with the proper talent around him.
5. Fultz vs. Tatum Part I (Fri. Oct. 20, 7 p.m. vs. 76ers at Wells Fargo Center)
The Celtics did not believe in Markelle Fultz, so they didn’t worry about trading out of the No. 1 overall pick and instead acquiring the No. 3 overall pick from the Sixers to draft Jayson Tatum. Well, this will be Fultz’s first chance to show the Celtics what a mistake they made, and same for Tatum towards the Sixers. And if these teams continue on their path, this could become the future of the East’s top two teams.
4. Merry Christmas (Mon. Dec. 25, 5 p.m. vs. Wizards at TD Garden)
Christmas is always best spent with people you love. The Celtics, however, are going to spend theirs with a team they basically despise in the Wizards. This game will be a bit more interesting than people will probably give it credit for, too, as the Wizards play the Celtics very well, and I’m still not so sure if we should be writing them off as behind the Celtics (even with Hayward in the picture) this season given how dynamic their backcourt truly is between the fantastic combo of John Wall and Bradley Beal.
3. Hayward in Utah (Wed., Mar. 28, 9:30 p.m. vs. Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena)
These returns are always pretty fascinating. It’s going to be interesting to see how Hayward is treated upon his return to Salt Lake City, especially when the Jazz made legitimate efforts to build around Hayward only to see him leave for Boston. There’s obviously some bad blood on the part of the Jazz, who have taken to unnamed sources and weird public tactics to try and say that they don’t need Hayward, and there’s no doubt that Hayward will want to show them that yes, they do indeed need him.
2. C’s visit the best’s backyard (Sat., Jan. 27, 8:30 p.m. vs. Warriors at Oracle Arena)
To be the best, you gotta beat the best. The Celtics have, of course, beaten the best in the past too, with a surprising win over the Warriors in their barn back in Apr. 2016. That win put an end to a 54-game home winning streak for the Warriors, and was truly the beginning of the Celtics’ promise taking shape. The Celtics beat the Warriors on the road last season, too, but it’s worth mentioning that the Warriors were without Kevin Durant for that game. If both these teams are healthy, with the Warriors expected to once again be the NBA’s juggernaut, this will be the first test to see if Hayward is truly the piece that puts the Celtics over the top in a potential NBA Finals meeting.
1. Farewell to a star and dying rivalry (Sun. Feb. 11, 3 p.m. vs. Cavaliers at TD Garden)
It’s impossible to describe what LeBron James has meant to the Celtics. And no, that’s not a typo. The most dominant star of the Eastern Conference for over a decade, it’s believed that this will be James’ last season in Cleveland, and that he’s bound to take his talents out to the West to form a Los Angeles superteam in 2018.
When James was at his best, the Celtics were forced to make changes that reshaped their franchise, first with the acquisition of the Big Three with Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett riding with Paul Pierce, then the rebuild that allowed the Celtics to accelerate their rebuild, and now with pieces like Hayward and Al Horford brought to Boston to help dethrone the King. The Cavs and Celtics are probably the early season favorites to meet in the Eastern Conference Finals for the second year in a row, yes, but this final regular-season meeting in Boston will be the death of the rivalry with LeBron’s teams, which started the Cavs in the beginning, then the Heat, and now the Cavs again.
It’s essentially the beginning of a farewell to the 33-year-old James, a player that is completely hated and at the same time undeniably respected in the Hub, too, as a move out West would mean that his visits to Boston will be cut in half (at the very least).
Oh, this is also going to be Pierce’s formal retirement ceremony, and you can bet it’s gonna be a must-watch spectacle. Pierce truly was the heart and soul of the Celtics for nearly two decades, and gave everything he had to this franchise. The pregame show is going to be something else, too, with the C’s likely to bring back everybody from the 2008 team that toppled James — sorry, Ray Allen, you’re probably not getting an invite — and with a ton of callbacks to his infamous showdowns with King James.
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Source: GreenStreet Blog