On the night before Halloween, the Boston Celtics will travel to the destination where last season came to a scary end. The Celtics open the 2012-2013 NBA season at the Miami Heat. What comes after will be a thrill-laden ride.
As the NBA season elongates back to a normal 82-game slate, the Celtics will debut a new team consisting of an interesting mixture. Back are some stars from years' past, but also a few new faces. Young and old, will join the green.
Along with a beefed-up schedule, the Atlantic Division appears to be a tougher beast with the Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors vastly improving from a year ago. The fight for a top four seed will be even more difficult.
Rondo and the Celtics open the season against Miami.
- Tuesday, October 30, 2012 @ Miami Heat
- Friday, November 2, 2012 vs. Milwaukee Bucks
- Saturday, November 3, 2012 @ Washington Wizards
- Wednesday, November 7, 2012 vs. Washington Wizards
- Friday, November 9, 2012 vs. Philadelphia 76ers
- Saturday, November 10, 2012 @ MIlwaukee Bucks
- Monday, November 12, 2012 @ Chicago Bulls
- Wednesday, November 14, 2012 vs. Utah Jazz
- Thursday, November 15, 2012 @ Brooklyn Nets
- Saturday, November 17, 2012 vs. Toronto Raptors
- Sunday, November 18, 2012 @ Detroit Pistons
- Wednesday, November 21, 2012 vs. San Antonio Spurs
- Friday, November 23, 2012 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
- Sunday, November 25, 2012 @ Orlando Magic
- Wednesday, November 28, 2012 vs. Brooklyn Nets
- Friday, November 30, 2012 vs. Portland Trailblazers
Tuesday, October 30, 2012 @ Miami Heat
Obviously the season opener against the Heat is a big game. Miami will be getting their rings right in front of the Celtics, something that won't make the visitors feel too great.
Friday, November 7, 2012 vs. Milwaukee Bucks
This will be the first in-person look the Boston fans get of new players like Courtney Lee, Jason Terry and Jared Sullinger. The home crowd should show them a lot of love just like at the end of their final home game last season.
Thursday, November 15, 2012 @ Brooklyn Nets
On the 15th, Boston will get their first look at the new Nets. They will face Joe Johnson in a new uniform and see the Nets' new arena as well. This will be a statement game to Brooklyn that Boston isn't relinquishing the Atlantic Division crown easily.
Wednesday, November 21, 2012 vs. San Antonio Spurs -- Friday, November 23, 2012 vs. Oklahoma City Thunder
In a back-to-back stretch at home, Boston will face both of the Western Conference finalists from last year. Games between Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett are always exciting, as is any game OKC plays in.
October/November W-L Prediction: 10-6
Wins: Heat, Bucks, Wizards, Wizards, Nets, Raptors, Pistons, Spurs, Nets, Trailblazers,
Losses: 76ers, Bucks, Bulls, Jazz, Thunder, Magic
Game One is a big one.
Best One-on-One Matchup of November:
This one has to go out to the point guards. Deron Williams and Rajon Rondo will get two shots at each other in the month of November, both at home and away. If this in-division rivalry is going to get going, it is going to start with the two floor generals. Rondo will have just come off a summer watching Williams maybe win a gold medal on a team he could've been on. Tempers will flare, and with any luck this will be the start of something big.
Boston has the best case scenario in November if...
The Celtics win this opener. That game at Miami could very well turn into a blood bath. These two teams battled in an outstanding series this past spring. Boston had to watch their 3-2 series lead slip away on Miami's home court and then witness LeBron James win his first NBA title handily.
Throw on top of that the Ray Allen situation... A member of the Big Three turning his back on Boston and signing with their biggest rival won't sit well with some Celtics.
If Boston can win an emotional first game after the Heat get their rings, then the season instantly looks bright. Should they get trounced, things aren't over, but that will be a long flight home experiencing deja vu.
Boston has the worst case scenario in November if...
They go through the motions and pick up some wins against a light start to the month. They will be able to beat teams like Milwaukee and Washington with relative ease, but if they slip into a comfort level, the second half of November will smack them hard.
After the Jazz visit Boston on the 14th, the Celtics face a grueling stretch of young and hungry teams like Brooklyn, Detroit, Toronto and OKC. If they falter and finish November sub-.500 questions will start to arise.
Boston must take a west coast swing to see LAC and GSW.
- Saturday, December 1, 2012 @ Milwaukee Bucks
- Wednesday, December 5, 2012 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
- Friday, December 7, 2012 @ Philadelphia 76ers
- Saturday, December 8, 2012 vs. Philadelphia 76ers
- Wednesday, December 12, 2012 vs. Dallas Mavericks
- Thursday, December 14, 2012 @ Houston Rockets
- Friday, December 15, 2012 @ San Antonio Spurs
- Tuesday, December 18, 2012 @Chicago Bulls
- Wednesday, December 19, 2012 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
- Friday, December 21, 2012 vs. Milwaukee Bucks
- Tuesday, December 25, 2012 @ Brooklyn Nets
- Thursday, December 27, 2012 @ Los Angeles Clippers
- Saturday, December 29, 2012 @ Golden State Warriors
- Sunday, December 30, 2012 @ Sacramento Kings
Ricky Rubio comes to Boston for the first time.
Wednesday, December 5, 2012 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves
Honestly, this may be the game I'm looking forward to most of all. Ricky Rubio will make his first appearance in Boston. More importantly, he will face Rajon Rondo for the first time. These may be the two most inventive and creative point guards on the planet, and to see them work in one game will be special.
Tuesday, December 18th, 2012 @ Chicago Bulls
This could potentially be around the time Derrick Rose starts his return. If that is the case, this game becomes very important. If the Bulls are going to challenge for the top of the East again, they will need to beat the Celtics, and they will need their star to play.
Tuesday, December 25, 2012 @ Brooklyn Nets
The Celtics drew a Christmas day game this year as they play in Brooklyn at noon. More importantly, this is the start of a tough but quick west coast swing that will take Boston to LA, Sacramento and Golden State before the new year.
December W-L Prediction: 10-4 (20-10)
Wins: Timberwolves, 76ers, Mavericks, Rockets, Bulls, Cavaliers, Bucks, Clippers, Warriors, Kings.
Losses: Bucks, 76ers, Spurs, Nets.
Best One-on-One Matchup of December:
Once again, this belongs to Rajon Rondo. His matchup with Ricky Rubio is something that I am highly anticipating. We could see a shoot-out for who can get more highlight assists. Sportscenter will have to keep their eye on this one.
Boston has the best case scenario in December if...
They utilize a light December to rack up wins. Boston will play just six playoff teams this month and should be able to start piling up some wins that will come in handy late in the season. The biggest part of their December will be to remain healthy throughout, because January won't be so easy.
Boston has the worst case scenario in December if...
One of their stars gets injured. An obvious worst case, but entirely valid. This is the time of year players often get hurt, especially if they are trying to play themselves into shape like some were last season. After the new year, things are going to start really heating up, and Boston will need all hands on deck.
Overall, I can't see the Celtics losing more than a couple of these December games. Looking at the schedule, the only definite playoff teams are the Bulls, Spurs, Clippers and Nets. The others are all fringe teams that Boston should beat. The only concern is that nine of these 13 games are on the road, including a four game stretch after Christmas.
Avery Bradley may not return until January.
- Wednesday, January 2, 2013 vs. Memphis Grizzlies
- Friday, January 4, 2013 vs. Indiana Pacers
- Saturday, January 5, 2013 @ Atlanta Hawks
- Monday, January 7, 2013 @ New York Knicks
- Wednesday, January 9, 2013 vs. Phoenix Suns
- Friday, January 11, 2013 vs. Houston Rockets
- Monday, January 14, 2013 vs. Charlotte Bobcats
- Wednesday, January 16, 2013 vs. New Orleans Hornets
- Friday, January 18, 2013 vs. Chicago Bulls
- Sunday, January 20, 2013 @ Detroit Pistons
- Tuesday, January 22, 2013 @ Cleveland Cavaliers
- Thursday, January 24, 2013 vs. New York Knicks
- Friday, January 25, 2013 @ Atlanta Hawks
- Sunday, January 27, 2013 vs. Miami Heat
- Wednesday, January 30, 2013 vs. Sacramento Kings
Bradley could return against Phoenix.
Monday, January 7, 2013 @ New York Knicks
It seems odd that the Celtics and Knicks don't meet until early January. The divisional foes will square off for the first time this season at MSG on the 7th. By this point, the Knicks should have figured out who they are in the post-Jeremy Lin era.
This matchup could have playoff implications as the two teams were in a dead heat at this time last season before Boston pulled away.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013 vs. Phoenix Suns
Without knowing for sure, I will arbitrarily say this is the game that Avery Bradley returns full force to the Celtics lineup. Though right now there is no timetable for his return, you must assume that means after Christmas at the earliest.
This spot kicks off a relatively light home stand against Phoenix, Houston and Charlotte. Then they finish it out with New Orleans and Chicago before heading back on the road. It seems like a good spot to ease Bradley back into the starting unit.
Wednesday, January 16, 2013 vs. New Orleans Hornets
Speaking of that game against New Orleans, this is the first look Boston will get at the Hornets with their two top-ten draft picks. Anthony Davis will be introduced to the city of Boston. Not to mention, this will be the first time in the NBA that Doc Rivers will coach against his own son, Austin. That should prove to be an intriguing storyline entering this game.
January W-L Prediction: 8-7 (28-17)
Wins: Hawks, Suns, Rockets, Bobcats, Hornets, Pistons, Cavaliers, Knicks.
Losses: Grizzlies, Pacers, Knicks, Bulls, Hawks, Heat, Kings.
Best One-on-One Matchup of January:
For Kevin Garnett, this game could be like looking in a mirror 17 years ago. As the Celtics battle the Hornets, Garnett will face Anthony Davis for the first time. Davis is a lanky, freak athlete with a defensive presence that resemble's KG.
When Garnett entered the league all those years ago, he looked an awful lot like Davis and had a similar, yet more polished, game. The two will battle down low for their respective teams, and I'm sure a lot of talking will be done. Whether it is advice or smack, we'll never know.
Boston has the best case scenario in January if...
They can hold down the home court. Contrary to December, Boston will be eating most of their meals in Massachusetts during January. They play 10 of their 15 games in the TD Banknorth Garden.
The Celtics were 24-9 at home last season, they will need similar production in January to keep up with the rest of the Atlantic and Eastern Conference.
Boston has the worst case scenario in January if...
They set their sights on a few big games and ignore the lesser publicize nights. A team like Boston has been accused of only rising to the occasion for big games. If they keep their eyes trained on the two NYK games and that big home game against Miami at the end of the month, they will slip up against quality teams like Sacramento, Atlanta and Indiana.
This is the month in the middle of the season that Boston will struggle with. There are a bunch of good to great teams on their January schedule. As the seemingly lengthy season wears on, the Celtics older players will remember that this isn't the 66-game sprint last year was.
- Friday, February 1, 2013 vs. Orlando Magic
- Sunday, February 3, 2013 vs. Los Angeles Clippers
- Wednesday, February 6, 2013 @ Toronto Raptors
- Thursday, February 7, 2013 vs. Los Angeles Lakers
- Sunday, February 10, 2013 vs. Denver Nuggets
- Monday, February 11, 2013 @ Charlotte Bobcats
- Wednesday, February 13, 2013 vs. Chicago Bulls
- Tuesday, February 19, 2013 @ Denver Nuggets
- Wednesday, February 20, 2013 @ Los Angeles Lakers
- Friday, February 22, 2013 @ Phoenix Suns
- Sunday, February 24, 2013 @ Portland Trailblazers
- Monday, February 25, 2013 @ Utah Jazz
Derrick Rose will be fighting back to get to the top.
Wednesday, February 6, 2013 @ Toronto Raptors
If the Raptors are the surprise team that a lot of people think they will be, this game will be a big one. Toronto will return Andrea Bargnani, and join him with last year's top pick: Jonas Valanciunas.
Also the Raptors took Terrence Ross with the No. 8 pick this summer. If the Nets aren't stepping up, Toronto could be the biggest challenger to the division crown.
Wednesday, February 13, 2013 vs. Chicago Bulls
If he hasn't returned by mid-December, Derrick Rose will definitely be back in the fold by February. The Bulls will be clawing their way back into the top of the East with their MVP running the show. Boston will be right there with those teams trying to outlast Chicago as the season starts its descent.
Tuesday, February 19, 2013 @ Denver Nuggets
This game will be the first in a seven-day road trip where Boston will play five games. They will head from Denver to LA the next night, then Phoenix, Portland and Utah. This may be the toughest stretch the Celtics will face, but it is bracketed by long periods of rest, so they should be able to take it in stride.
February W-L Projection: 7-5 (35-22)
Wins: Magic, Clippers, Nuggets, Bobcats, Suns, Nuggets, Jazz.
Losses: Raptors, Lakers, Bulls, Lakers, Trailblazers.
Two Celtics-Lakers matchups in February.
Best One-on-One Matchup of February:
The shortest month of the year grants us one of the longest tenured rivalries in basketball twice! When the Lakers and Celtics meet up, the games are always entertaining.
This year there are two such games in February. Though they may not guard each other, this means the matchup of the month goes to Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce. These two players are identified with their franchises and have engaged in numerous NBA finals battles over the past few years.
Boston has the best case scenario in February if...
They wrap up some wins before the treacherous road trip out west at the end of the month. Boston needs to win a chunk of those early games, especially at home. The Celtics were a sub-.500 road team last season. If they head into this road trip with a poor February record, those top seeds will start drifting away.
Boston has the worst case scenario in February if...
They can't find a footing on that road trip. They leave home after what will be a tough and emotional game against a ferocious Chicago team and then jump right in with the young and surprising Nuggets. There will be little rest for Boston's older stars. It will be up to the inexperienced youngsters to pick up the slack, something they have not proved able to do yet.
This month worries me a lot because of that road trip. While there is young talent on this team, Courtney Lee, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green and Jared Sullinger are all massively unproven when things go awry. If Pierce and Garnett are struggling to lead, I'm not sure how the young players will react to that type of workload on a long trip.
The Division Rivalries get hot in March.
-Friday, March 1, 2013 vs. Golden State Warriors
- Tuesday, March 5, 2013 @ Philadelphia 76ers
- Wednesday, March 6, 2013 @ Indiana Pacers
- Friday, March 8, 2013 vs. Atlanta Hawks
- Sunday, March 10, 2013 @ Oklahoma City Thunder
- Tuesday, March 12, 2013 @ Charlotte Bobcats
- Wednesday, March 13, 2013 vs. Toronto Raptors
- Saturday, March 16, 2013 vs. Charlotte Bobcats
- Monday, March 18, 2013 vs. Miami Heat
- Wednesday, March 20, 2013 @ New Orleans Hornets
- Friday, March 22, 2013 @ Dallas Mavericks
- Saturday, March 23, 2013 @ Memphis Grizzlies
- Tuesday, March 26, 2013 vs. New York Knicks
- Wednesday, March 27, 2013 @ Cleveland Cavaliers
- Friday, March 29, 2013 vs. Atlanta Hawks
- Sunday, March 31, 2013 @ New York Knicks
Friday, March 22, 2013 @ Dallas Mavericks
This is sure to be an emotional one as Jason Terry returns to Dallas for the first time since he signed with the Celtics. Terry spent eight seasons with the Mavericks and helped them to two NBA finals appearances and one title.
Monday, March 18, 2013 vs. Miami Heat
If Boston stands a chance of taking down the Heat, it will start here. Even if Miami is way ahead in the standings, a statement win will go a long way. Boston has proven able to beat them in the past, especially at home in the regular season. That confidence helped them in the ECF last spring.
Sunday, March 31, 2013 @ New York Knicks
This game goes hand-in-hand with the rash of divisional and conference competition taking place in March. The Knicks join the likes of Atlanta, Philadelphia, Toronto, and Indiana as teams who could be jostling with the Celtics for position entering the playoffs. This is the second of two games against NY in the month.
March W-L Prediction: 9-7 (44-29)
Wins: Warriors, 76ers, Pacers, Bobcats, Bobcats, Heat, Knicks, Cavaliers, Hawks.
Losses: Hawks, Thunder, Raptors, Hornets, Mavericks, Grizzlies, Knicks.
March won't be easy.
Best One-on-One Matchup of March:
Nobody is sure if he can even remotely stand up to the elite swingmen in the NBA anymore, but if Paul Pierce has any elite left in the tank, it will have to come out in March. He will be featured against some of a best SFs in the league this month. His matchups will include Andre Iguodala, LeBron James, Danny Granger, Shawn Marion, and the biggest one, Carmelo Anthony, twice.
He will have to face-off against Anthony twice in the final week of March. If the division is tight at the top, those two games will be very meaningful and Pierce will need to perform well for Boston to prevail.
Boston has the best case scenario in March if...
If Pierce can hold his own with that list of players. However, on a grander scale, this month will be the biggest test this team will go through. It is brimming with playoff teams from last season, as well as teams like Toronto and New Orleans who are vastly improved. This team will show its true colors if they can hold their own.
Boston has the worst case scenario in March if...
Pierce injures himself enough to hamper his effectiveness like last season, and the rest of the team is unable to withstand his absence. There is a lot of faith being put onto Jeff Green this season... If Pierce shows signs of age, everything lands on his shoulders.
An even worse case scenario is that Jeff Green plays the way he did two years ago in a Boston uniform. If he is a bust, then the season may also be.
Could the last game of the season be for the division?
- Monday, April 1, 2013 @ Minnesota Timberwolves
- Wednesday, April 3, 2013 vs. Detroit Pistons
- Friday, April 5, 2013 vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
- Sunday, April 7, 2013 vs. Washington Wizards
- Wednesday, April 10, 2013 vs. Brooklyn Nets
- Friday, April 12, 2013 @ Miami Heat
- Saturday, April 13, 2013 @ Orlando Magic
- Tuesday, April 16, 2013 vs. Indiana Pacers
- Wednesday, April 17, 2013 @ Toronto Raptors
Friday, April 12, 2013 @ Miami Heat
Obviously at this juncture, every game against the Heat is going to be must-watch. However, even if this one won't affect seeding , it will be another statement game. Boston has a decent chance at facing Miami in the playoffs. Whether it be early on or in the ECF again, winning this game would give them a psychological edge.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013 vs. Indiana Pacers
The Celtics finish off the season with eight straight games against Eastern Conference teams. The Pacers had a fairly consistent offseason. They were an essential equal with Boston last season and could be again. This game could have big seeding implications, making it a must-win for the Celtics.
Wednesday, April 17, 2013 @ Toronto Raptors
A stretch at this point, but it would be great if the final game of the season meant something: forcing the teams to keep their stars in because a seed or even a playoff spot might be at stake. If the Raptors have improved greatly, this game could be worth something.
April W-L Prediction: 6-3 (50-32)
Wins: Timberwolves, Pistons, Cavaliers, Wizards, Nets, Magic.
Losses: Heat, Pacers, Raptors.
Will anything be at stake?
Best One-on-One Matchup of April:
We will learn a lot about young John Wall this season. He has some decent pieces around him. If he can make things happen for the Wizards, this game could be interesting.
If Washington and Boston still has something to play for, we'll get to witness two of the most athletic point guards in basketball when Wall mans-up with Rajon Rondo on April 7th.
Boston has the best case scenario in April if...
They have clinched whatever seed they desired and have the time to rest their legs before the playoffs start. Injuries decimated this team last season and hampered their depth in the postseason. If rest is the only benefit that can come out of this April, then they had a good season.
Boston has the worst case scenario in April if...
If they are stuck fighting for their playoff lives or to work out of the last couple seeds.
They will undoubtedly want to avoid Miami in the first round, and it remains to be seen who will take that No. 2 spot if the Bulls can't get back on track. If the Celtics are forced to play all-out until the bitter end of the season they will not be long for the playoffs.
I have the Celtics finishing with a record of 50-32. That is a .610 winning percentage, a slight improvement over last season's .591.
This should again set them up as a top-four seed. However the Atlantic Division appears to be very dangerous, so don't be surprised if four of the teams in it made the postseason.
Health will once again be the prevailing factor for the Celtics' season, but this year they seem to have added more talented depth than before. Injuries are going to happen, and the second unit will have a critical role in this team's success.
While they will struggle at various points during the season, this team has the experience, talent and resolve to win a lot of basketball games on this schedule. Buckle-up, it is going to be one hell of a ride.