Ahhh….the day basketball fans have been waiting for. The 2019-20 NBA regular season schedule was released and for your Boston Celtics, the season begins in the city of brotherly love. October 23rd, the C’s take on Al Horford, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers. This is actually an eye opening start to the season for the Celtics, playing playoff teams in three of the first four games of the season including the NBA champion Toronto Raptors which is also the first game at the TD Garden on October 25th and the Bucks come to the Garden for a rematch from the previous postseason on the 30th.
Boston will play 25 games in front of a national audience which is the most in the eastern conference, however six less than the leaders which are the LA Lakers. A good amount of those games take place during the stretch I consider make or break. 8 games, 7 against Western Conference foes and one against the head case that is known as Kyrie Irving and the Brooklyn Nets.
Speaking of Mr. Irving, Celtics fans may want to take Tom Brady’s advice from a September 2011 press gathering and “start drinking early”. Kyrie’s first game back at the Garden is the night before Thanksgiving and luckily for the former #11 on the green team, it’s two days after another homecoming in Cleveland so he shouldn’t need a load management game. By the way, tickets to that game is $125 if you want to boo the night away at the guy who tried to ruin the Celtics!
Now that the impromptu venting session is done, back to the schedule. Former Charlotte Hornet Kemba Walker who is the new starting point guard for the C’s is set to have his own homecoming in the queen city. That game is on November 7th, and the two teams will meet on New Year’s Eve day at 3pm. Boston will travel to Toronto for a Christmas day game at noon and this will be the first time in a long time the New York Knicks who are Christmas day staples won’t be on the slate.
The true make or break stretch of the season takes place from February 11th through March 3rd. One game against the Nets and 7 games against potential western conference playoff teams including the Minnesota Timberwolves, Los Angeles Lakers, two games against the Houston Rockets and more. If the Celtics get through the stretch with a 5-3 record, it’ll be relatively smooth sailing from there.
One thing I look at when the NBA schedule is released is the road-home splits. For the Celtics, the month of November looks to be the month that sticks out the most with nine road games compared to 5 games at the garden. During the month, Boston has a western conference road trip starting with the Golden State Warriors, however at the end of the trip face 2 playoff teams in the Los Angeles Clippers and the Denver Nuggets. In April, Boston will play 5 of their final 8 games at home which could help or hurt any playoff seeding possibilities.
The schedule is the schedule. All 30 teams play 82 games. For the Celtics, this schedule features winning streak opportunities in the middle of the season. Although there is still a couple of months before the games count, looking at this schedule and the format, this Celtics team could be looking at around 55 victories. Of course time will tell.