OK folks, we know the Big Three are gone and the Celtics are in apparent rebuild mode with new coach Brad Stevens. That doesn’t mean the Celtics won’t be an interesting team to watch, especially with a competitive team on the floor that includes Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green and rookie Kelly Olynyk.
Here are 10 games to watch for the Celtics season:
OCT. 30 at Toronto (season opener) — We will get the first regular-season look at the Stevens plan on opening night at Air Canada Centre and it will be fascinating to see the roster and whether the Celtics opt for a veteran-laden lineup or decide to go young. Also will Rajon Rondo be recovered from knee surgery by then?
NOV. 9 at Miami — The Celtics-Heat rivalry was one of the NBA’s best for the past five years but now it has lost its luster. Still, the Celtics will get a chance to face the two-time defending champions while Olynyk gets his first taste of facing Chris Bosh while the Celtics get a chance to gauge themselves against the league’s best.
DEC. 10 at Brooklyn — It will be an emotional two days for the Celtics as they face the Nets, with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, in the first of a back-to-back and then Doc Rivers and the Clippers come to TD Garden 24 hours later. The Celtics will get a chance to face the Atlantic Division favorites and it will be Rondo’s first regular-season meeting against his two old mentors and pals.
DEC. 11 vs. Los Angeles Clippers — Rivers comes back with the Clippers after his confusing and controversial exit from the Celtics. What type of reception will Rivers receive? Will the Celtics be in full tanking mode by then? Will Rondo and Chris Paul reengage their fierce rivalry? All interesting questions.
DEC. 22 at Indiana — Celtics coach Brad Stevens returns to Indianapolis, where he led Butler University to two NCAA title appearances. Meanwhile, the Pacers should be a juggernaut and looking to notch another win against an inferior team. The Pacers will be one of the favorites in the Eastern Conference.
JAN. 17 vs. Los Angeles Lakers — The rivalry renews but with difference characters. Kobe Bryant will likely be back in the Lakers lineup after tearing his Achilles tendon in the final days of the regular season. But Metta World Peace and others are gone. The Celtics will be the younger team but will does this matchup have any teeth left?
JAN. 26 vs. Brooklyn — Get the tissue ready because it should be an emotional night at TD Garden. Rarely has the Celtics in-game operations team had to put together two tribute montages in one night but this is the night. Pierce and Garnett will be back in Boston and are sure to get a long standing ovation for their contributions to the Celtics. Pierce has already said he will be tearing up when he gets to the arena.
FEB. 20 at Los Angeles Lakers — It’s the Celtics-Lakers rematch but also the day after the trade deadline. Which Celtics will be former Celtics by then? Will Rajon Rondo still be in a Boston uniform and will Danny Ainge decide to deal all of his veterans with hopes or landing a favorable lottery pick? It will be an interesting night.
MAR. 12 vs. New York — Carmelo Anthony and the crew come to Boston and will be looking to improve their playoff seeding with a retooled roster. The Celtics will return home from a tough road game at Indiana but they always seem to get up for the Knicks and the two teams always make for a good matchup.
APR. 16 vs. Washington — It’s the regular-season finale and will the Celtics be fighting for a playoff spot this late in the season? A lot of questions will be answered by then, but this could be critical game for playoff seeded or even lottery seeding. The Wizards are intent on making the playoffs this season.