Eager to turn the page after a first-round playoff exit, the Boston Celtics can officially start looking ahead with Friday's release of the 2021-22 NBA schedule.
The Celtics open up the Ime Udoka era on Wednesday, Oct. 20 at Madison Square Garden against the New York Knicks and old friends Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier.
Walker, who played two seasons for the C's, had been dealt to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the deal that brought Al Horford back to Boston in June before he was waived and signed with his hometown Knicks. He'll make his return to the TD Garden with New York on Dec. 18 and Jan. 8.
The home opener for the Celtics comes in their second game, Friday, Oct. 22 against the Toronto Raptors, before heading right back out on the road.
Traveling will be a theme for the C's early, as 17 of their first 27 contests are away.
The defending champion Milwaukee Bucks visit Boston for the first time on Nov. 12, followed a week later by LeBron James, Russell Westbrook and the rest of the revamped Los Angeles Lakers.
Both of the Celtics' meetings against the Lakers are early in the season, as Boston heads to Los Angeles on a five-game road swing -- its longest of the season -- on Dec. 7. That trip also includes matchups against the Utah Jazz, Portland Trail Blazers, Los Angeles Clippers and the reigning Western Conference champion Phoenix Suns.
Following the longest road trip of the season is Boston's longest homestand, a five-game stretch featuring visits from the Bucks, Golden State Warriors, Knicks, Philadelphia 76ers and Cleveland Cavaliers.
Thanks to the Super Bowl being a week later than usual, the NBA All-Star Game is also pushed back a week to Feb. 20 in Cleveland. As a result, the Celtics will play 60 games before the week-long All-Star break and just 22 after.
Boston ends the regular season with eight of its final 13 games away from the TD Garden, including a three-game road trip to close it out with matchups against the Chicago Bulls, Bucks and Memphis Grizzlies in the regular-season finale on April 10.
Some other highlights of the C's schedule:
- Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets visit Boston twice, first on Thanksgiving Eve on Nov. 24 and again on March 6.
- Kevin Garnett will have his No. 5 retired on March 13 vs. the Dallas Mavericks.
- The Celtics have 15 back-to-back scenarios on the schedule, three of which won't require travel.
- No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham makes two visits to the TD Garden with the Detroit Pistons, first on Feb. 16 and again on March 11.
- The Celtics and Boston Bruins play on the same night 23 times, 19 times within an hour of one another and four times within 90 minutes of the other.
The Celtics finished a disappointing 36-36 last season, their first non-winning season since 2014-15. The campaign marked the first time Boston didn't win a playoff series since 2015-16.