By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — The wait has finally ended.
With expectations sky-high for the new-look Celtics, we’ve been waiting for months to see the complete 2017-18 schedule, eager to circle the most highly anticipated matchups. That wait ended Monday night when the NBA released their full slate for the upcoming campaign (check out Boston’s complete schedule and print it out here).
The season will start earlier than usual as the NBA hopes to eliminate those rigorous stretches for teams, and more importantly, keep stars from sitting out nationally televised tilts. And when the season tips off on October 17 in Cleveland, it will be the Celtics taking on the Cavaliers in an Eastern Conference finals rematch.
The NBA really, really likes the Celtics this season, as they’ll be featured on national television a whopping 25 times. So get ready for a lot of national exposure for the team in green, and a lot of late nights for their fans.
Here are some of the other big takeaways from the upcoming Celtics season:
The Celtics will play seven 2016-17 playoff teams over the first five weeks of the season, starting opening night in Cleveland and ending with a November 16 visit from the defending champion Golden State Warriors (their only visit to Boston).
The Milwaukee Bucks will be in town for the Celtics’ home opener on Wednesday, October 18 (Gordon Hayward’s first game in Boston as a member of the Celtics), with a trip to Milwaukee the following week. The Celtics will also host the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors in that span, with visits to Oklahoma City and Atlanta also in that stretch.
Another benefit from the early start is that the NBA is lightening the load for teams. The Celtics start the season with a back-to-back (at Cleveland, vs. Milwaukee) but only have 14 back-to-backs this season, down from their 17 of last season.
The Celtics will enjoy their longest homestand of the season from November 27 to December 6, welcoming Detroit, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Milwaukee and Dallas to the TD Garden.
On The Road
The Celtics have two different four-game road trips this season, with their first beginning on January 23 with a trip out west. It starts with a back-to-back at the Staples Center against the Lakers and Clippers, continues with Boston’s lone visit to Oracle Arena against the Warriors (the C’s have won each of their last two trips to Oakland) and concludes with a tilt against the Denver Nuggets.
Boston’s only other visit to the left coast will take place from March 23-28, when the C’s will pay visits to Portland, Sacramento, Phoenix and Utah.
The Celtics will play a season-high 17 games in December, with 10 games at the TD Garden and seven on the road.
Holidays With The C’s
The highlight of their December stretch is the Celtics’ first-ever Christmas Day game in Boston. They’ll face off against the Washington Wizards in the first meeting between the two teams since their heated seven-game Eastern Conference semifinals series. Nothing screams Christmas spirit like one of the Eastern Conference’s budding rivalry.
You can celebrate a few other holidays with the Celtics during the upcoming season, with home games on New Year’s Eve against the Brooklyn Nets and on Valentine’s Day against the Clippers.
However, there will be no Celtics game on St. Patrick’s Day. So you’ll just have to enjoy a Guinness in your favorite Celtics gear.
Across The Pond
Speaking of road trips, the Celtics have a lengthy one for their January 11 matchup with Philadelphia in London. It’s the only game scheduled for that week, with four days off leading up to it and another four days off before returning home for a showdown with the New Orleans Pelicans (Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins and Rajon Rondo’s only visit to Boston).
Tip-off for the Celtics-76ers game at the O2 Arena is set for 3 p.m. EST, so start thinking of your excuses for missing work that day.
Avery Bradley Back In Boston
Celtics fans will get their first look at AB in a Pistons uniform on Monday, November 27. Hopefully the team provides some tissues at the gate.
Hayward’s Return To Utah
While the Jazz make a mid-December visit to Boston (the emotional return of Jonas Jerebko), Jazz fans will have to wait until March 28 to see/boo their former star player.
Opening night is the first of three nationally televised matchups with the Cavaliers, with LeBron and crew (potentially without Kyrie Irving) coming to Boston on Wednesday, January 3 (ESPN) and again on Sunday, February 11 for ABC’s afternoon game.
First Look At Markelle Fultz
The Celtics get their first look at the No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz (the guy everyone but Danny Ainge fell in love with over the summer) in the first week of the season, with an October 20 visit to Philly. The Process comes to Boston on Thursday, November 30.
Big Baller(s) In Boston
Lonzo Ball and the Lakers make their only trip to Boston on November 8 (another nationally televised affair). Hopefully Papa Ball is busy selling shoes and isn’t in the front row.
Super Bowl Sunday
Hopefully the New England area will have other plans that evening, but the Celtics will host the Portland Trail Blazers at noon on Super Bowl Sunday.