Celtics 2021-22 Schedule: Top Games, Championship Odds and Record Predictions

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistAugust 20, 2021

Boston Celtics' Jayson Tatum, rear, hugs Jaylen Brown (7) after Brown scored the winning 3-pointer against the Utah Jazz during an NBA basketball game Wednesday, March 28, 2018, in Salt Lake City. The Celtics won 97-94. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
Rick Bowmer/Associated Press

After several notable changes during the offseason, the Boston Celtics are hoping to rebound with a strong 2021-22 season. 

The franchise reshuffling began with Brad Stevens vacating his post as head coach to become president of basketball operations after Danny Ainge announced his retirement. Ime Udoka, who spent last season as an assistant with the Brooklyn Nets, was hired to take over as head coach. 

Depth issues created problems for the Celtics last season, so Stevens addressed the situation by bringing back Al Horford and acquiring Josh Richardson in separate trades with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dallas Mavericks, respectively. They also signed Dennis Schroder to boost their backcourt depth. 

Even with the new additions, Boston's success will be determined in large part by Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum playing at an All-Star level. 

Here is a look at the schedule that the Celtics will face during the 2021-22 season. 


2021-22 Celtics Schedule Details

Season Opener: at New York Knicks on Oct. 20 (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Championship Odds: +4900 (bet $100 to win $4,900; FanDuel)

Schedule: NBA.com


Top Matchups

Brooklyn Nets: 1st Matchup on Nov. 24 (Home)

If we operate under the assumption that the Brooklyn Nets are the best team on paper in the Eastern Conference, this is the matchup the Celtics should have circled on their calendar. 

The Nets also ended Boston's 2020-21 season with a 4-1 series victory in the first round of the playoffs. Their four wins came by an average of 15.5 points. 

The best way to measure where you stand in the NBA hierarchy is to see how you fare against the top teams. 

The Nets have, arguably, the best player in the league (Kevin Durant), two top-10 players (James Harden, Kyrie Irving) and a loaded bench with Joe Harris, Bruce Brown, Patty Mills and Jeff Green that head coach Steve Kerr can deploy at any time. 

Brooklyn won all three head-to-head meetings with the Celtics last season. The trio of Durant, Irving and Harden didn't play together in any of those games for the Nets. 

This is a different Celtics team than the group that lost seven of eight games to Brooklyn between the regular season and playoffs. Horford has to prove he's still capable of being a viable player, but his greatest success in the NBA came in Boston. 


New York Knicks: 1st Matchup on Oct. 20 (Road)

Last season was the first time the New York Knicks finished higher in the standings than the Celtics since Stevens' first year as head coach in 2013-14. 

The Knicks defied even their most optimistic expectations by going 41-31 to make the playoffs as the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference. They are going to return most of the key players from that squad while also adding Evan Fournier and former Celtics point guard Kemba Walker. 

Despite the differences in their performance last season, the Knicks and Celtics look to be in similar positions heading into 2021-22. 

Based on FanDuel's odds to win the NBA title, Boston is expected to be much better than New York (+10000). 

There are reasons to be optimistic about the Celtics in this battle between two of the NBA's oldest rivalries. Tatum and Brown are the two best players on either roster. A lot of New York's success on defense last season stemmed from allowing the lowest opponent three-point percentage (33.8). 

Walker was so ineffective for the Celtics last season due to injuries that they moved him for Horford and Moses Brown, who was used in a trade with the Mavs to acquire Richardson. 

The Knicks are paying Walker such a relatively low amount of money that it's worth the risk at this stage of his career. If he can play at close to his All-Star level, the gap between these two teams will likely widen. 

New York vs. Boston is often must-see television, but the rivalry figures to be even more intense this season with both teams expecting to be in playoff contention. 


Season Forecast

Boston has questions of its own at point guard. Schroder was never the lead point guard for the best version of the Atlanta Hawks teams during the peak of the Mike Budenholzer era. 

Schroder's best season was in 2019-20 with the Thunder when he played behind Chris Paul. He averaged 18.9 points on 46.9 percent shooting in 65 appearances. 

Now, the Celtics are asking the 27-year-old to be their primary ball-handler. He was a low-risk signing on the taxpayer mid-level, but he doesn't solve one of the team's biggest questions. 

Brown's ascent to All-Star last season is a huge boon to the Celtics. They now have two legitimate superstars to build around.

Stevens was aggressive in making moves to surround Brown and Tatum with more talent than they had last season. It's still not a perfect roster, but there is more than enough depth to believe the Celtics can be a playoff team without having to go through the play-in tournament again. 

Udoka is also heading into his first season as a head coach. He does come from an excellent coaching tree after spending seven seasons as an assistant with the San Antonio Spurs under Gregg Popovich. 

Time will tell what kind of coach he is going to be, but not a lot of first-timers walk into a situation with players at the level of Brown and Tatum. 

Even with modest expectations by their usual standards, look for the Celtics to compete for a playoff spot in the east. 

Record Prediction: 45-37


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