Celtics Scheduled for Success Late in 2009-10

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Celtics Scheduled for Success Late in 2009-10 If you're an NBA fan, August is a slow month. It's hard to fight through the late-summer doldrums between the free-agent frenzy and the start of preseason training camps. What's a fan to live for?

Tuesday is the one exception. The NBA unveiled its complete schedule for 2009-10 this afternoon, leaving die-hard fans across the Association scrambling to their computers to check out what's in store for their teams this season.

For the Celtics, there's a lot.

Here's a look at what the C's and their fans have to look forward to over the next eight months:

October 27: Celtics at Cavaliers
The C's have drawn a heck of a challenge for their season opener. For the first time in his career, LeBron James has an elite center on his side manning the low post, and the Celtics will be the first team to witness the Shaquille O'Neal era in Cleveland. Quicken Loans Arena plays host to a showdown between the two teams that will probably emerge as the Eastern Conference's two best.

October 28: Bobcats at Celtics
Everyone likes to get a win in their home opener, and in Boston, that's looking likely. The Celtics will take on fourth-place Charlotte in their first game at the Garden this fall, and while the recent addition of Tyson Chandler will probably make for an improved Bobcats team, it's still a relative cakewalk for a Boston team that's favored to win the East. And if LBJ and Shaq get the best of the C's on the road, they'll be happy to get a shot at climbing quickly back to 1-1.

October 30: Bulls at Celtics
The marquee matchups keep coming. The C's third game is a clash with a Bulls team that took them to the brink of extinction in an incredible seven-game series in the first round of the playoffs this past spring. One can only wonder what will be in store when the teams take the court for a rematch. Derrick Rose took his game to the next level against Boston last season, and he's only going to get better. This one will be epic. These teams went to seven overtimes in one series — how many will we see this time around?

November 20: Magic at Celtics
The C's get their first look at the defending Eastern Conference champions. They'll be itching for revenge after the Magic knocked them out of the playoffs last year in the Eastern semifinals, but with Kevin Garnett terrorizing the paint on defense, the Celtics are a whole different team. Expect KG to give Dwight Howard fits — and expect this to be a great game.

December 25: Celtics at Magic
Who's up for Christmas at Disney World? This holiday season, the C's get to wake up in Orlando, open their presents, and then head to Amway Arena for a 2:30 p.m. game. But who needs Santa Claus when you've got jolly old Stan Van Gundy?

January 20: Celtics at Pistons
Rasheed Wallace makes his homecoming to Detroit, and he does so against a completely revamped Pistons team. The C's will get their first look at Charlie Villanueva, Ben Gordon and Chris Wilcox in the Pistons' home whites. By unloading Chauncey Billups and two guys named Wallace in recent years, the Pistons have gotten younger, but have they gotten better? We'll see in January.

January 31: L.A. Lakers at Celtics
This is the big one. Everyone loves Lakers-Celtics, and while we don't get the Christmas Day showdown this year, the C's first clash with Kobe Bryant and the defending champions will still be a spectacle. Kobe, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and newcomer Ron Artest will give the Celtics a tough game, and it's a cant-miss for any fan of the men in green.

The home stretch
After taking on the Cavs for the last time on April 4, the Celtics play all of their last six games against Eastern Conference opponents, none of whom finished above .500 last season. The regular-season slate ends for the C's against New York, Toronto, Washington, Milwaukee, Chicago and then Milwaukee again. If Boston is anywhere near the top seed in the East when April rolls around, expect smooth sailing to No. 1.

Of course, the schedule's only set from here to the end of the regular season on April 14. From there, it's up in the air.

And if all goes well in Boston, the Celtics will be playing long after that.

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