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Forsberg: Instant takeaways from 2021-22 Celtics schedule originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Boston Celtics’ 2021-22 schedule is out and it’s time to plan your life for the next seven months.
Here are the key dates and stretches so you can let your loved ones know when you’ll be unavailable:
Opening night vs. old friends (Oct. 20)
Boston’s season opener gets a turbo shot with a trip to the world’s most famous arena for a showdown with old friends Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier. We’ll get our first regular-season look at new faces like Josh Richardson and Dennis Schroder, who were essentially brought in as short-term, discount versions of the Walker/Fournier combo after Brad Stevens prioritized flexibility during an offseason roster overhaul.
The Bradley Beal temperature check (Oct. 27, 30)
Celtics fans will be keeping an eye on the Wizards throughout the season to see if Bradley Beal gets frustrated in Washington. But two games in four days -- essentially a drawn-out home-and-home -- will afford an early season opportunity to recklessly speculate about whether Jayson Tatum can eventually recruit his St. Louis buddy to Boston.
Two Lakers games before you even start your Christmas shopping (Nov. 19, Dec. 7)
It feels like we usually have to wait until the calendar flips before getting a taste of Celtics-Lakers. Not this season. Two meetings in Boston’s first 25 games sets the tone for a tough start to the season.
Surviving the holidays (Nov. 24 - Dec. 31)
The Celtics play 18 games in little more than a month between Thanksgiving Eve and New Year’s Eve, and it’s a stretch loaded with superstar talent and some of the league’s best teams, including ...
A night-before-Thanksgiving visit from Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and the super team Nets.
Seven of the next eight games on the road, including a five-game west-coast road trip that features stops to play the Lakers and Suns. The only pitstop home is a game against the Sixers before the Celts head west.
The schedule doesn’t relent coming back to Boston in mid-December, including a visit from the Bucks (Dec. 13) and Sixers (Dec. 20). A rematch with Milwaukee -- the two teams' third meeting of the early season -- happens on Christmas in Wisconsin. Boston wraps up the calendar year by hosting the other NBA finalist when the Suns come to town on New Year’s Eve.
Just look at the superstar talent the Celtics see in that stretch. Even beyond the Nets’ trio, there’s Joel Embiid, LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Dame Lillard, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Steph Curry. It’s a venerable tour of MVP candidates.
Home sweet home? (Dec. 13 - Feb. 2)
While the early season schedule is particularly daunting, Boston does have a stretch in which it plays 18 of 26 games at home starting in mid-December through a Garden-heavy January. The strength of schedule dips a bit in the new calendar year and Boston will get a pre-trade deadline chance to assess where it stands. Are the Celtics legit contenders, or licking their wounds and looking ahead to 2022-23 after the brutal early schedule?
Super Bowl appetizer (Feb. 13)
Boston is back to hosting a day-of-Super Bowl matinee as Trae Young and the Hawks visit for a 2 p.m. ET tipoff.
Post All-Star check up (Feb. 24)
Emerging from a later-than-usual All-Star break (Feb. 18-23), the Celtics -- with 60 games already in the rearview -- head to Brooklyn and begin the final push against an East juggernaut. A couple of Sunday matinees in the national TV spotlight loom in early March with visits from the Nets (March 6) and Luka’s Mavericks (March 13).
On the road again (March 16 - April 10)
The Celtics play eight of their final 13 games away from home, starting with a mid-March west coast trip (visits to Golden State, Sacramento, Denver, and Oklahoma City) then wrapping the season on the road against the Bulls, Bucks, and Grizzlies.
By the numbers
Celtics play 15 back-to-backs overall, only three without travel in between (league average is 13.5 back-to-backs per team).
The four conference teams that Boston plays only three times this season (instead of the typical four): Chicago, Miami, Cleveland, and Orlando.
The Celtics’ expected miles traveled: 43,000 (about 3,000 more than Eastern Conference average).