Celtics

Breaking down the Boston Celtics' 2019-20 regular season schedule

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Breaking down the Boston Celtics' 2019-20 regular season schedule

The Boston Celtics will be tested out of the gates with a road-heavy slate featuring many of the league’s marquee teams early in the 2019-20 season.

Boston plays five of its first nine games, and 10 of its first 16 overall, away from home, including its season-opener in Philadelphia on Oct. 23. That initial stretch of road games also features Kemba Walker’s first trip back to Charlotte on Nov. 7.

Boston embarks on a season-long five-game road trip out west in mid-November that starts with a visit to Golden State’s new arena on Nov. 15 and also features tilts with the Kings, Suns, new-look Clippers, and Nuggets.

A second west coast road trip occurs coming out of the All-Star break, highlighted by a Sunday afternoon showdown with the Los Angeles Lakers on Feb. 23. The schedule eases a bit late in the year (though there is another four-game road trip in late March). Over the final seven weeks of the regular season, Boston will play only nine road games in a 23-game span. Boston plays five of its final eight games at home in April.

All of which seems to suggest that, if Boston can weather the early storm, it will be positioned to build momentum later in the year. But the challenges are bountiful out of the gates for a team that stumbled to a 10-10 start last season. That tough start might have contributed to the frustrations that quickly mounted and lingered much of the year.

Boston plays some of its top East rivals early in the year, starting with Philadelphia on opening night before Toronto visits for Boston’s home-opener on Oct. 25. The Milwaukee Bucks come to TD Garden on Oct. 30.

Boston has only one stretch with more than one day off in the month of November, with a two-day break coming after it returns from that five-game west coast trip. December is more forgiving with five instances of two-plus days of rest.

Kyrie Irving's first game back in Boston should be the night before Thanksgiving on Nov. 27. Even if Irving doesn’t make the trip — he only made one return to Cleveland during his time in Boston, the 2016-17 opener — Boston visits the Nets for a matinee on Nov. 29.

Al Horford returns to Boston on Dec. 12., and Terry Rozier's first game back at TD Garden following his preseason visit will be Dec 22. Aron Baynes comes back on Jan. 18.

The Celtics play 12 sets of back-to-backs, only three of which conclude at home. What’s more, only nine of the 24 back-to-back games overall are in Boston, adding a layer of difficulty to those sets.

A few more notable dates: Boston plays a New Year’s Eve matinee in Charlotte. The Lakers make their lone visit to Boston on Martin Luther King Day (Jan. 20). No. 1 pick Zion Williamson makes his lone appearance in Boston on Jan. 11. Boston has a rare Super Bowl Sunday off (Feb. 2). The Clippers, featuring summer additions Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, visit the game before the All-Star break (Feb. 13).

The Celtics are scheduled for 25 national TV appearances including a couple of Saturday night games in Boston against the 76ers (Feb. 1) and the Russell Westbrook-adding Rockets (Feb. 29). Sunday matinees on ABC include Boston’s trip to play the Lakers (Feb. 23) and a visit from the Bucks (April 5).

Be sure to tune in to NBC Sports Boston's Celtics Schedule Release Special at 8:00 p.m., presented by Ace Ticket.

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NBA Rumors: Romeo Langford will be cleared for full basketball activities by start of Celtics training camp

NBA Rumors: Romeo Langford will be cleared for full basketball activities by start of Celtics training camp

With Celtics training camp set to begin on October 1, there is a bit of good news on one of the team's first round rookies. 

According to Keith Smith, Romeo Langford, who missed all of Summer League recovering from thumb surgery, will be cleared for full basketball activities by the start of camp. 

Langford is the youngest of the Celtics first round picks and arguably the player who needed the most reps during Summer League to get ready for his rookie season in the NBA. While those Summer League reps can't be regained, Langford will at least won't have to miss extra time getting acclimated to his new team. 

In early August, Langford told Tom Westerholm that his thumb was "basically" back to normal, but he hadn't participated in any contact activities. So over the past month-and-a-half, Langford has been healthy enough to continue to work on his jump shot, which the Celtics have begun to overhaul with a ping pong paddle

The Celtics will have to deal with a relatively uncertain future following Kyrie Irving and Al Horford's departures and the arrival of Kemba Walker. They'll need to hit on their draft picks in order to build a young core that can either contend with Walker, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart or one that can be exchanged for a superstar talent that will. Having Langford ready to go at the start of training camp is at least a step in the right direction. 

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Countdown to Celtics Camp: Who will be the Celtics' most impactful rookie?

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Countdown to Celtics Camp: Who will be the Celtics' most impactful rookie?

When the Boston Celtics open training camp next month, they will have a whopping eight first-year players on the court. That number will include four drafted rookies, two summer league standouts on camp invitations, an undrafted two-way player, and a European import.

In the fourth installment of our Countdown to Camp series, we asked our NBC Sports Boston panel to pick which of those rookies will have the biggest impact on the Celtics during the 2019-20 season.

Boston drafted four rookies in Romeo Langford (14th overall), Grant Williams (22), Carsen Edwards (33), and Tremont Waters (51). They later signed undrafted swingman Max Strus to one of their two-way deals, while summer league standouts Javonte Green and Tacko Fall are coming to camp with a chance to compete for a final roster spot. The Celtics also signed French 7-footer Vincent Poirier to add another body to their frontcourt.

That’s a lot of youth and inexperience but, then again, only four Celtics players have more than three years of NBA experience overall in Kemba Walker, Gordon Hayward, Marcus Smart, and Enes Kanter. Which is to say that there will be plenty of opportunities for younger players to make an immediate impact if they prove themselves ready for immediate minutes.

Typically, you might lean towards the lottery pick but Langford missed all of summer league while rehabbing from thumb surgery and will be playing a bit of catchup when camp opens.

Given Boston’s new-look frontcourt following the departure of Al Horford and Aron Baynes, it would seem a solid bet to suggest that Grant Williams or Poirier might have the clearest path to contributing. As you’ll read below, our panel leaned heavy in that direction and we’d probably be inclined to agree with their pick.

But we could also make the case for Edwards, an elite bucket-getter at the college level who showed at summer league that he’s not bashful about getting up shots. The departure of Terry Rozier could open an opportunity for backup guard minutes and if Edwards can give a little offensive jolt to the second unit, he could carve out minutes.

Scoring against rotation NBA players won’t be as easy as it was against rookies and roster hopefuls at summer league but Edwards can create his own shot, brings some rugged defense, and will have a chance to stake his claim for backcourt minutes.

Abby Chin: Grant Williams

The Celtics need all the help they can get in the frontcourt. The opportunity is there. And I feel like there’s a lot of hype surrounding the smart, versatile, if a little undersized, Tennessee product. I’m expecting big things.

 

A. Sherrod Blakely: Grant Williams

The team's lack of depth and overall uncertainty in the frontcourt means all their bigs, Grant Williams included, will get a chance to play. He won't wow us with his numbers but his basketball savvy will come in handy on some nights and play a role in the Celtics winning more games than most anticipate.

 

Max Lederman: Grant Williams

Williams already has an NBA body (strength wise, at least) and is a smart, winning player. I was also really impressed with his willingness to let the game come to him in summer league, which shows me he'll be fine in whatever role the team asks him to play. He's also a concrete wall setting screens.

Countdown to C's Camp: Awards predictions>>>

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