The countdown to the first campaign in the “post-Marcus Smart” era for the Boston Celtics can now begin. With any schedule’s release comes plenty of talking points. Some favor the green and white, others not so much. From October 25 til April 14, the Cs hope to set themselves up for a postseason run that ends with a parade through a city that has been chomping at the bit for its most successful sports franchise to capture that 18th title.
Equipped with new weapons on the bench for Joe Mazzulla and a seven-foot-three stretch big, Boston has its eyes on finally breaking through that glass ceiling in the NBA Finals. No season in one of the biggest sports cities in the United States comes without pressure. This one for the green and white may be the most in recent history.
Each season has its own eps and flows. That goes without saying. Before those even happen, we can discuss how this schedule setup will create both of those instances. Here are the good and the bad of Boston’s schedule as contender continues to be stamped to its name.
2 advantages of the 2023-2024 Boston Celtics regular season schedule
Advantage No. 1: 13 contests with 2 days of rest/16 “fresh games”
Mazzulla’s men being 6-6 in games after two days of rest last season is not likely to be repeated. It was just the second time in the last six campaigns in which the Boston Celtics failed to finish with a record over .500 in that situation. With veterans like Al Horford, and injury-prone rotation players like Malcolm Brogdon, time off going to be critical to the postseason success of this ball club.
In addition, Jayson Tatum finished the 2022-2023 season seventh in total minutes. The talent throughout this roster is quite evident. Keeping the core pieces off the injury list has to be a focus while earning results. Only the Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks have more games following exactly two days off than Boston in 2023-2024. It is one more than the green had throughout Mazzulla’s first season at the helm.
No team across the association has more “fresh games” than Boston. That means the opponent will not be coming off an off day while the Celtics will. Given the potential resting scenarios ball clubs could use in these instances, the green and white have to profit.
Advantage No. 2: Six out of the last eight games are at TD Garden
When the Celtics are fighting for a potential top seed at the end of March and beginning of April, their home fans will be behind them for it all. After a six-game road trip, Boston returns home to play six out of its last seven contests on the parquet floor.
The only real challenge in the weeks leading up to the postseason away from the northeast is a visit to see the Adrian Griffin-led Bucks. That still comes following a three-game homestand and an off day. No Eastern Conference side had a better record on its home floor than the green. There is nothing more essential than building momentum with the most important basketball on the horizon. Being in front of the faithful fans inside the Garden gives this team an edge to be able to do so.
2 challenges of the 2023-2024 Boston Celtics regular season schedule
Challenge No. 1: The entire month of March
What is this new-look team made of down the stretch?
That question is going to be answered in what has to be the most brutal 31 days of basketball for Mazzulla’s squad in a month known for the color green.
Just five contests out of the 16 games in March are in the capital of Massachusetts. Nine of those are against playoff teams from 2023. The month features three back-to-backs and two five-game road trips. The first two weeks of the third month of 2024 possess what is arguably the toughest series of games all campaign.
Beginning with the Dallas Mavericks at home and ending with the Phoenix Suns in Arizona, the Celts will see a playoff team from last season in four straight games. Boston goes from Cleveland to Denver to the Valley of the Sun. In between is a rematch of the 2022 NBA Finals. Later on, coming off a matchup with Milwaukee, Boston sees the Pistons and the Chicago Bulls in a road back-to-back. The month comes to a close with two games against the East’s No. 7 seed last year and a meeting with the New Orleans Pelicans in the Big Easy on Saturday.
Advantage No. 2: December west coast trip
The California gauntlet. San Francisco to Sacramento to Los Angeles for two. In December 2022, Boston had three games on the road in California. 2023 adds one contest including the most daunting back-to-back of the campaign against the Warriors and the ever-improving Kings.
During that road trip in 2022, the Suns were the fourth team, not Mike Brown’s Kings. Last year, Tatum and the Green went 1-2 during that run in The Golden State. That run came to an end with Boston’s No. 0 dropping 44 points in an overtime triumph over the Los Angeles Lakers. Running into three top Western Conference sides before that clash with LeBron James on Christmas Day is a massive test. Once that is behind them, the Boston Celtics have a much more favorable end to 2023 with games against the Spurs, Pistons, and Raptors.