Celtics schedule 2013: Facing old friends on Nets, Clippers highlights season

Brace Hemmelgarn-US PRESSWIRE

For the first time in a while, the Boston Celtics' schedule isn't highlighted by games against rivals but rather games against old faces.

These are different days in Boston, where championships aren't a consideration and making the playoffs will be more than a challenge. The rebuilding Celtics are no longer atop the Eastern Conference. They won't even be watchable for most of the country -- Boston has only three regular-season games on ESPN and three more on NBA TV.

No matter the record, there are many storylines in Beantown. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett will likely receive a warm welcome from Celtics fans as members of the Brooklyn Nets. Former coach Doc Rivers will bring his Los Angeles Clippers to town to receive a more mixed reaction. And that's only discussing what's happened in the offseason. Once the Celtics open the season Oct. 30 at Toronto, more points of narrative are bound to unfold.

Five games to watch

Any game involving Rajon Rondo and the Miami Heat -- If there's one rivalry that won't go into hibernation as the Celtics reboot, it's the one involving Rajon Rondo and the Heat. Rondo hasn't set at timetable for his return from an ACL tear, but his supposed dislike of Ray Allen will make it intriguing once Rondo is back and playing Miami. Additionally, the Heat-Celtics game on Jan. 27 marked the day Boston discovered Rondo's ACL tear was more than a hyperextension.

Miami hosts Boston Nov. 9 and Jan. 21 and heads to the T.D. Garden March 19.

Dec. 11 vs. Clippers -- Rivers returns to Boston after a unique parting with the team in the middle of his current contract. How the Celtics fans react will be a storyline to watch, at least if some of them hold the same perspective of the new Clippers coach as ESPN's Bill Simmons.

Jan. 26 vs. Brooklyn -- The return of Pierce and Garnett to Boston should be equally as exciting, if only because the starters will probably be playing heavier minutes. Rondo likes the spotlight, and this game on ESPN should provide just that.

Feb. 19 at Phoenix -- It's not that this game will be particularly good, but it presents a big "what-if" situation. What if the Celtics had acquired former Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe to pair with Rajon Rondo? Boston reportedly wanted Bledsoe in a package deal that would have sent Garnett and Rivers to Los Angeles, but it never came to fruition. Instead, Bledsoe got his chance to star after former Celtics assistant general manager Ryan McDonough joined the Suns and traded for him in Phoenix.

April 14 at Philadelphia -- Boston would never admit it publicly, but the team's rebuilding efforts would be greatly accelerated by a high pick in a 2014 NBA Draft that's supposedly loaded. That's what makes an end-of-season matchup with the 76ers interesting. Philadelphia is another rebuilding team with their eye on Andrew Wiggins, Julius Randle and the rest of college basketball's top prospects. Could this game determine who gets more ping-pong balls in the lottery? Boston would seem to have more talent on paper, but one injury could change things.

Tough tests

The Celtics have 20 back-to-backs, a considerable amount, but should be able to handle the schedule with a young roster. The biggest challenge of the season will likely come during the team's longest road trip of the year, which spans from Jan. 5 to Jan. 11. Coach Brad Stevens' team not only stuffs a lot of games together but has them against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers, Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers.

With the Blazers as the exception, all appear to be locks to make the playoffs, and the Thunder, Clippers and Warriors could arguably be three of the four best teams in the Western Conference, with the Spurs also being in the conversation, of course.

Easiest stretches

From Jan. 29 to the end of February, the Celtics should have time to settle in. Of 12 games, it's possible only three or so are against winning teams. Boston plays San Antonio, Dallas, Los Angeles and Atlanta, and neither of the last three are guaranteed success. The Celtics have seven games against Philadelphia, Orlando, Phoenix, Sacramento and Utah, all of whom will be amongst the bottom of the NBA.

That all fails to mention the All-Star break in the middle of the easiest part of Boston's schedule.

Important schedule facts

Back-to-backs: 20

Season opener: Oct. 30 at Toronto

Home opener: Nov. 1 vs. Bucks

Longest road trip: 5 games (Jan. 5 - Jan. 11)

Longest homestand: 5 games (Dec. 11-21 and Feb. 26 - March 9 )

Schedule

OCTOBER
@ Toronto Wednesday, October 30 2013 7:00 PM EDT coverage
NOVEMBER
Milwaukee Friday, November 01 2013 7:30 PM EDT coverage
@ Detroit Sunday, November 03 2013 6:00 PM EST coverage
@ Memphis Monday, November 04 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
Utah Wednesday, November 06 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Orlando Friday, November 08 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
@ Miami Saturday, November 09 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Orlando Monday, November 11 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Charlotte Wednesday, November 13 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Portland Friday, November 15 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Minnesota Saturday, November 16 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
@ Houston Tuesday, November 19 2013 8:00 PM EST coverage
@ San Antonio Wednesday, November 20 2013 8:30 PM EST coverage
Indiana Friday, November 22 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Atlanta Saturday, November 23 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Charlotte Monday, November 25 2013 7:00 PM EST coverage
Memphis Wednesday, November 27 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Cleveland Friday, November 29 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Milwaukee Saturday, November 30 2013 9:00 PM EST coverage
DECEMBER
Milwaukee Tuesday, December 03 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Denver Friday, December 06 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ New York Sunday, December 08 2013 12:00 PM EST coverage
@ Brooklyn Tuesday, December 10 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday, December 11 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
New York Friday, December 13 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Minnesota Monday, December 16 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Detroit Wednesday, December 18 2013 7:30 PM EST coverage
Washington Saturday, December 21 2013 1:00 PM EST coverage
@ Indiana Sunday, December 22 2013 6:00 PM EST coverage
Cleveland Saturday, December 28 2013 1:00 PM EST coverage
Atlanta Tuesday, December 31 2013 1:00 PM EST coverage
JANUARY
@ Chicago Thursday, January 02 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
New Orleans Friday, January 03 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Oklahoma City Sunday, January 05 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
@ Denver Tuesday, January 07 2014 9:00 PM EST coverage
@ Los Angeles Clippers Wednesday, January 08 2014 10:30 PM EST coverage
@ Golden State Friday, January 10 2014 10:30 PM EST coverage
@ Portland Saturday, January 11 2014 10:00 PM EST coverage
Houston Monday, January 13 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Toronto Wednesday, January 15 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Los Angeles Lakers Friday, January 17 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Orlando Sunday, January 19 2014 6:00 PM EST coverage
@ Miami Tuesday, January 21 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Washington Wednesday, January 22 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
Oklahoma City Friday, January 24 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Brooklyn Sunday, January 26 2014 6:30 PM EST coverage
@ New York Tuesday, January 28 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Philadelphia Wednesday, January 29 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
FEBRUARY
Orlando Sunday, February 02 2014 1:00 PM EST coverage
@ Philadelphia Wednesday, February 05 2014 7:00 PM EST coverage
Sacramento Friday, February 07 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Dallas Sunday, February 09 2014 6:00 PM EST coverage
@ Milwaukee Monday, February 10 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
San Antonio Wednesday, February 12 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
@ Phoenix Wednesday, February 19 2014 9:00 PM EST coverage
@ Los Angeles Lakers Friday, February 21 2014 10:30 PM EST coverage
@ Sacramento Saturday, February 22 2014 10:00 PM EST coverage
@ Utah Monday, February 24 2014 9:00 PM EST coverage
Atlanta Wednesday, February 26 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
MARCH
Indiana Saturday, March 01 2014 8:00 PM EST coverage
Golden State Wednesday, March 05 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Brooklyn Friday, March 07 2014 7:30 PM EST coverage
Detroit Sunday, March 09 2014 6:00 PM EDT coverage
@ Indiana Tuesday, March 11 2014 7:00 PM EDT coverage
New York Wednesday, March 12 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
Phoenix Friday, March 14 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
@ New Orleans Sunday, March 16 2014 6:00 PM EDT coverage
@ Dallas Monday, March 17 2014 8:30 PM EDT coverage
Miami Wednesday, March 19 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
@ Brooklyn Friday, March 21 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
Toronto Wednesday, March 26 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
@ Toronto Friday, March 28 2014 7:00 PM EDT coverage
Chicago Sunday, March 30 2014 7:00 PM EDT coverage
@ Chicago Monday, March 31 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
APRIL
@ Washington Wednesday, April 02 2014 7:00 PM EDT coverage
Philadelphia Friday, April 04 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
@ Detroit Saturday, April 05 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
@ Atlanta Wednesday, April 09 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
Charlotte Friday, April 11 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
@ Cleveland Saturday, April 12 2014 7:30 PM EDT coverage
@ Philadelphia Monday, April 14 2014 7:00 PM EDT coverage
Washington Wednesday, April 16 2014 8:00 PM EDT coverage
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