Celtics to open vs. Cavs, host 1st ever Christmas game

The Boston Celtics are set to play during two of the NBA’s most high profile primetime games in 2017-18.
Adding to the already announced London game, the C’s will open the season with…

Bring on the Cleveland Cavaliers! It will be the fifth time in 10 years that the Celtics will open the season against a team featuring LeBron James with Boston going 3-1 in the four previous occurrences.

In addition to playing opening night on ESPN, the Celtics will play at home on Christmas Day against the Washington Wizards.

It will be the second straight season the Celtics play on Christmas, but it will be the first time they host a Christmas game in Boston (They “hosted” the New York Knicks in 1964, but it was at Madison Square Garden).

How’d it take so long for the NBA’s winningest franchise to host a Christmas game? Mostly Red Auerbach.

The announcement of the two games is both a sign of respect and of things to come.

The NBA clearly sees Boston as worthy of its biggest stage following last year’s playoff run and the Gordon Hayward coup. And deservedly so. This is the No. 1 seed from this past year and they have an even better outlook for next season.

With these two games already out there, it likely means a season full of primetime games. One has to figure the other matchups with the Cavs and Wizards could catch the league’s TV partners’ eyes, along with games against the Warriors, Rockets, Raptors and Lakers, among others.

As for the matchups themselves… The Cavs, on paper, are a menace. This is basically the same Cavs team that handily defeated the Celtics in May to end their season. But the Cleveland roster could look very different in a few months’ time with Kyrie Irving’s trade demand hanging over the franchise.

Therefore, it could be the perfect time to face the Cavs, either with the palpable tension of Irving’s presence complicating team chemistry in the opener or the needed integration of his replacements on the fly.

The Wizards on Christmas is an intriguing fit considering the bad blood between the two teams. It could be the first matchup between the two squads in 2017-18, meaning the tension from this year’s conference semis could take centerstage on ABC. Of course, that rivalry may die down some with a Morris twin on each side and the mutual respect between Isaiah Thomas and John Wall, but one never knows. At the very least, it’ll be an intriguing contest between Eastern Conference contenders.

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