BOSTON – Celtics fans can begin marking up their calendars now that the 2018-19 regular season schedule has officially been released. We’d like to aid the process by narrowing down the top games on the slate.
We’ve ranked the most anticipated matchups of the season in order of intrigue. So, get out your pens and jot down these dates because you do not want to miss out on the following games.
10. Thursday, Nov. 1 vs. Milwaukee
The Milwaukee Bucks’ last trip to Boston ended in heartbreak – a Game 7 loss in the first round of the 2018 Playoffs that came in blowout fashion. On the first day of November, the Bucks will have their shot at revenge while playing on national television. Milwaukee will look a little different this year with the addition of Brook Lopez to the frontcourt and the subtraction of Jabari Parker, as well as a new and proven head coach in Mike Budenholzer. But of course, the main attraction will be rising superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo, who showed during last spring’s epic seven-game battle why opposing teams should “Fear the Deer.”
9. Saturday, March 9 at Los Angeles Lakers
Celtics-Lakers matchups at STAPLES Center have always been cherished events, but this season’s bout in Los Angeles should carry extra meaning for both squads. That’s because it will be the first time that LeBron James will host the C’s inside his new palace. Sitting atop a throne of purple and gold on Feb. 7, King James will look to add his mark to the storied rivalry while playing in front of Lakers Nation. The Celtics, of course, will try to spoil the moment for James by snagging a feel-good win on their archrival’s home court.
8. Thursday, Dec. 27 at Houston
The Houston Rockets blasted opponents apart last season for a league-leading 65 regular-season wins. One team that brought them down to Earth, however, was the Celtics. Boston put up two spectacular fights against the Rockets, beginning with an epic, 26-point comeback win at TD Garden that was highlighted by a pair of last-second charges that Marcus Smart drew against James Harden. The Celtics later traveled to Houston and fought the Rockets in a back-and-forth battle all the way to the finish line, before falling 123-120. Those two clashes left fans salivating for more, and they’ll get another taste on Dec. 27 when the C’s travel to Toyota Center for their first of two regular-season matchups against the Rockets.
7. Friday, Nov. 9 at Utah
When the schedule officially came out Friday afternoon, this was likely the first game Gordon Hayward Circled on his calendar. After missing all but five minutes of last season with an ankle injury, the All-Star wing will finally get to experience his long-awaited homecoming to Salt Lake City, where he spent the first seven campaigns of his career. This will be a special night for Hayward and all Utah Jazz fans as he takes the Vivint Smart Arena court for the first time since signing with the Celtics.
6. Tuesday, March 5 at Golden State
Over the last three seasons, there is only one team in the NBA that has a winning record on the road against the dynastic Golden State Warriors. That team is the Boston Celtics. Boston was the only squad in the league to beat the Warriors at Oracle Arena during both the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons, and it barely lost last year’s matchup at Golden State by a mere four points. The C’s will look to add to their recent stretch of success at Oracle on March 5 when they make their lone trip of the season to San Francisco Bay.
5. Friday, Oct. 19 at Toronto
Now that LeBron James is out of the East, many NBA pundits believe the Eastern Conference crown will belong to either Boston or Toronto by season’s end. The Celtics make a strong case as the favorites of the East because they are returning two stars in Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving, both of whom were sidelined during the team’s 2018 run to the Conference Finals. Toronto, the reigning one seed of the East, makes a case as well, thanks to the acquisition of superstar forward Kawhi Leonard. Who will ultimately come out on top? We won’t find that out until the spring. However, Game 2 of the regular season in Toronto should provide a good indication of how the two teams match up.
4. Tuesday, Dec. 25 vs. Philadelphia
Last season marked the first time in franchise history that the Celtics hosted a Christmas Day game in Boston. That tradition will continue into this season, as they are set to host the Philadelphia 76ers Dec. 25 at TD Garden. The holiday classic will begin at 5:30 p.m., so there will be plenty of time to spend with family and friends during the day before tuning into the evening showdown on ABC.
3. Tuesday, Oct. 16 vs. Philadelphia
With as much hype as there is surrounding Boston and Philly’s Christmas clash, there’s even more excitement leading up to their Opening Night matchup at TD Garden. The Celtics and Sixers rejuvenated their historic rivalry last spring during the Eastern Conference Semifinals, which Boston walked away from as 4-1 victors. The emotions of that series will certainly return Oct. 16 when the next chapter of the rivalry begins. Combining those emotions with the anticipated returns of Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving and Daniel Theis will set the stage for one heck of a season-opening experience.
2. Saturday, Jan. 26 vs. Golden State
The two-time defending NBA-champion Warriors will come to Beantown on Jan. 16, and they will look more fearsome than ever. As if the combination of Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson wasn’t enough, Golden State went out and snagged DeMarcus Cousins off the market, giving it a potential starting lineup of nothing but All-Stars. The C’s on the other hand, boast a trio of All-Stars of their own, as well as a couple of young, rising studs, each of whom should be able to do their part in giving the Warriors a run for their money.
1. Thursday, Feb. 7 vs. Los Angeles Lakers
The Celtics-Lakers rivalry cooled down a bit over recent years, but a couple of acquisitions by L.A. this summer have allowed the matchup to once again become the hottest ticket in town. The addition of LeBron James alone would have been enough to rekindle the historic feud, but adding former Celtic star Rajon Rondo onto L.A.’s roster as well should make things all the more interesting when the purple and gold come to Boston. James, Rondo and the new-look Lakers will make their only stop of the season at TD Garden on Feb. 7, in what should be the most intriguing matchup of the Celtics’ season.