BOSTON – Celtics fans can begin marking up their calendars now that the 2017-18 regular season schedule has officially been released. We’d like to aid the process by narrowing down the top home games on the slate.
We’ve ranked the most anticipated home games of the season in order of intrigue. So get out your pens and mark down these dates because you do not want to miss out on the following matchups at TD Garden.
10. Friday, Dec. 15 vs. Utah
Friday, Dec. 15 will be a strange night in Boston – at least for newcomer Gordon Hayward. It will be the only night this season that the Utah Jazz come to town, and it will be the first time that Hayward will face off against his former team. After spending each of his first seven seasons in a Jazz uniform, it will surely be an emotional and exhilarating night for Hayward as he takes them on with his new Celtics teammates.
9. Thursday, Dec. 28 vs. Houston
James Harden and Chris Paul were two of the top four distributors in the NBA last season, as they combined for a total of 20.4 assists per game. Now, the two star guards have teamed up on the Rockets, and they could develop into one of the best passing backcourt combos the league has seen in a long time. Houston will be in town Thursday, Dec. 28, so don’t pass up on the chance to see Harden and Paul play their only game of the season at TD Garden.
8. Tuesday, Jan. 16 vs. New Orleans
Rajon Rondo’s postseason was cut short in late April when he fractured his right thumb during Chicago’s first-round series against the Celtics. The Bulls were up 2-0 when the injury occurred, but lost the next four games and were eliminated while their point guard looked on helplessly from the sidelines. Rondo will be back for revenge Jan. 16, but this time he’ll be wearing a new uniform. He signed with the New Orleans Pelicans during the offseason and will serve as the primary facilitator for one of – if not the – most fearsome frontcourts in the league, which features Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins. The Celtics should be well-rested to face their former All-Star point guard as they will be coming off of four days rest following their game against the 76ers in London.
7. Friday, Jan. 5 vs. Minnesota
Over the last couple of seasons, the Minnesota Timberwolves have been tabbed as one of the most exciting up-and-coming teams in the NBA. This should finally be the year that they break out. The Wolves have bolstered their roster incredibly during the offseason, as they’ve added Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, Jamal Crawford and Taj Gibson, who will all join forces with the promising young tandem of Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Celtics fans will get their only taste of that talented group Friday, Jan. 5 when the T-Wolves make their lone trip of the season to Boston.
6. Tuesday, March 20 vs. Oklahoma City
The Thunder and Celtics have many things in common, all of which should make their March 20 matchup at TD Garden one heck of a display. It all starts with the point guards – reigning MVP Russell Westbrook and top-5 MVP vote-getter Isaiah Thomas – who both led their respective conferences in scoring last season. You may recall that those two put on one of the greatest shows of the 2016-17 campaign last time they faced off at TD Garden, as Westbrook went off for 45 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds to edge Thomas’ 34-point, 10-assist night during a 117-112 Thunder win. This season’s matchup could be even more exhilarating, as both teams have added another star to the mix. The Thunder acquired Paul George from the Pacers in what was the most monumental trade of the offseason, while Boston brought in Gordon Hayward in what was the most notable free agent signing of the summer. Thomas vs. Westbrook and Hayward vs. George – what an epic, tag-team fight it will be.
5. Wednesday, Oct. 18 vs. Milwaukee
After finishing off the 2016-17 regular season at home against Milwaukee, the Celtics will now host the Bucks in their 2017-18 home opener. The Bucks, like the Celtics, are loaded with young talent, headlined by potential MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo. Milwaukee is fresh off of a 42-40 season and a sixth-place finish in the East, but they likely would have finished higher in the standings if they hadn’t dealt with significant injuries in their starting rotation. Kris Middleton missed the first half of last season and Jabari Parker was absent for the second half, but if those two, along with the rest of Milwaukee’s core, can stay healthy for the 2017-18 season, the Bucks could be a team to reckon with. This home opener will be quite a test for the Celtics, as it comes on the second night of a back-to-back. They will have tipped off the regular season the night before in Cleveland, so hopefully they’ll have enough left in the tank 24 hours later to capture their first game in front of their home fans.
4. Monday, Nov. 27 vs. Detroit
Seeing Avery Bradley in a different uniform will surely be an odd, and perhaps uncomfortable, sight for Celtics fans. Nonetheless, his first return to Boston will not be a game to miss. The two-way stud spent his first seven seasons with the C’s, before being traded this summer to Detroit in exchange for Marcus Morris. Both players, along with big man Aron Baynes – a former Piston who signed with Boston this summer – will have the opportunity to face their respective former teams for the first time on Monday, Nov. 27. It will certainly be an emotionally-charged night for all involved.
3. Monday, Dec. 25 vs. Washington
The Celtics will host a Christmas Day game in Boston for the first time in 53 years. And it couldn’t come against a much better foe than the Washington Wizards. Boston and Washington duked it out in a seven-game, Eastern Conference semifinals series last spring, and it’s no secret that these two teams have grown to loathe each other. Every matchup is a physical battle between these squads, and Christmas afternoon is unlikely to be an exception. This will mark the first time the teams will face since last May when Boston eliminated the Wizards from the Playoffs. The rivalry should get even juicier this season now that Washington forward Markieff Morris will have the opportunity to take on his twin brother Marcus Morris, who was traded to the C’s during the offseason.
2. Wednesday, Jan. 3 vs. Cleveland
The Celtics’ 2018 New Year’s resolution will be to knock the Cleveland Cavaliers off of the Eastern Conference throne. So, what better way to tip off the fresh calendar year by immediately putting that resolution to test? The C’s will host the Cavs Wednesday, Jan. 3 for the first time since May 25, when Cleveland eliminated Boston from the Eastern Conference Finals. With the offseason acquisitions of Hayward, Morris and rookie Jayson Tatum, among others, the Celtics should be in a much better position to match up evenly with Cleveland, and hopefully that will allow them to eventually reach their 2018 goal.
1. Thursday, Nov. 16 vs. Golden State
The two most highly anticipated Celtics home games over the last two seasons have come against the same team: the Golden State Warriors. That won’t change this season when the C’s welcome the defending champs to town. Boston has defeated the greatest show on hardwood twice during the last two seasons; however, both of those wins have occurred on the road. Golden State has won the last four matchups at TD Garden. The revamped Celtics will be looking to end that streak Nov. 16 in what is primed to be the most anticipated home game of the 2017-18 season.