Boston Celtics to face defending champion Toronto Raptors on Christmas Day

Celtics' forward Jayson Tatum and Raptor's point guard Kyle Lowry. Photo via John E. Sokolowski

Yesterday the NBA's annual Christmas Day festivities were revealed to the public and lucky for us, the Boston Celtics will suit up in their holiday green to take part in the events for the fourth straight year.
Last year, the Celtics faced off against their Eastern Conference rival Philadelphia 76ers in Boston, where they finished on top in overtime winning 121-114.

Next season, the Celtics won't be home for Christmas at the TD Garden. Instead, the C's will travel north to Canada to face off against the 2019 NBA Finals champion Toronto Raptors.

The Toronto Raptors celebrate their 2019 NBA Finals Championship. Photo via Jack Arent 

The news came as a mild shock to a lot of Celtics faithful and maybe a little bit of a disappointment. Out of all the teams the Celtics have a history with, it seems odd to have had them matched up with one that doesn't share much of a back story. The two organizations have never faced off in the playoffs and with all the changes this summer don't even have that much history between the players on their rosters.

When it comes to who Celtics fans would have rather seen as an opponent, there are a few options. Their historic rival, the Los Angeles Lakers, were all but locked down to play their next-door neighbors and new NBA powerhouse the Los Angeles Clippers, so they were off the table.

Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James. Photo via Harry How

Looking closer to home towards the Eastern Conference, there were a few more obvious candidates, the first being a holiday rematch with the 76ers. With guys like Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum serving as upcoming stars who mirror the rise of Philadelphia's Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, it would have been interesting to add fuel to the historic fire as the two teams move even closer to their exciting futures. However, with them matching up last Christmas, it's fair to see why the league choose to have each group play elsewhere in 2019.

Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers. Photo via Mitchell Leff 

The next candidate up is the Milwaukee Bucks. Both teams have a deep, rich history in the league as well as with each other in recent years. Last season, the Bucks knocked the Celtics out of the playoffs in game 5 of the second round. The season before that, the two young teams faced off in the first round in which the Bucks took the Celtics seven games before Boston eventually closed out the series. The matchup on Christmas for next season would have been interesting, as any game is when you face off against Giannis Antetokounmpo. With the Bucks looking like the front runner to come out of the East next season, their match up with Philadelphia is one most likely born from the majority idea that the two are atop the best teams in the East.

Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks. Photo via Benny Sieu 

However, while both of those teams would have been great matchups, the most obvious one that almost every single Celtics fan would have liked to see would have to be against another Atlantic Division friend and former Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving's new team, the Brooklyn Nets. I don't think I have to explain why this would have been an interesting battle. Anyone who watched a second of NBA basketball last season knows how the year went for the Boston Celtics and what role Irving played in it, so to see Kyrie and the Celtics face-off on the biggest NBA stage of the regular season would have been a hard one to top. Instead, fans will have to check out that matchup on a different holiday break when the Nets come to Boston the day before Thanksgiving on November 27th.

Former Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving. Photo via Michael Dwyer

Although any of these matchups may have been a bit more anticipated, Celtics' fans should still be grateful that we even have the opportunity to watch our favorite team play on Christmas day. Despite the fact that they lost their Finals MVP and star Kawhi Leonard to the Clippers in free agency, the Raptors will still be a very tough and entertaining team for the Celtics to face off against. Their veteran guys such as center Marc Gasol, forward Serge Ibaka, and all-star point guard Kyle Lowry have seen just about everything they possibly could in the NBA and know what it's like to play on the biggest of stages. And with their young star Pascal Siakam coming off of a very impressive season, it will be exciting to see where he's at next year in terms of his play.

I'm happy to watch the Celtics face off against absolutely anyone on Christmas day. Just thinking about this game and all of the other great matchups the NBA has planned, I can't help but get more and more excited for the upcoming season. If you, for some reason, can't find one single element of Boston's face-off with Toronto to get excited for just remember that with the Celtics green and Raptors red we will easily be the most festive game of the day. So there's that I guess.

You can follow Thomas Desmond on Twitter @td_654.