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Rapid reaction: C's 2011-12 schedule

12/7/2011

Rapid reaction after the Celtics' 2011-12 schedule was released Tuesday night by the NBA:

Home-opener vs. Detroit: The Celtics open on Christmas Day in New York and play three games away from home before returning to the TD Garden on Dec. 30 for the home-opener against the Detroit Pistons (now coached by former top assistant Lawrence Frank).

Six they won't see at home: Denver, Golden State, LA Clippers, Minnesota, New Orleans, Sacramento

Six they won't see on road: Houston, Memphis, Phoenix, Portland, San Antonio, Utah

Feeling the Heat: The Celtics play the Heat four times this season, including three times in April. Those games are in Miami on Dec. 27 and April 10, and in Boston on April 1 and 24.

The NBA's best rivalry: Boston hosts the Lakers on Thursday, Feb. 9, then visit Los Angeles on Sunday, March 11.

The most grueling stretch: That visit to the Lakers is a back-to-back, as the Celtics also play the Clippers the next night. It ignites a five-games-in-seven-days stretch stops in Golden State on Wednesday before a back-to-back in Sacramento and Denver. Coming back from the west coast, the Celtics make stops in Atlanta, Milwaukee and Philadelphia as part of a killer eight-game road trip.

The easiest stretch: The Celtics can dig in and enjoy much of January. After playing in Washington on New Year's Day, Boston plays only one other road game (Jan. 14 at Indiana) over the next three weeks. There's eight home games during that stretch.

National attention: Boston plays 24 nationally televised games, including 10 games on TNT, 10 on ESPN, and four ABC Sunday matchups (Feb. 12 vs. Chicago, March 4 vs. New York, March 11 at Lakers, April 1 vs. Miami).

Breaking down month-by-month: Here's a look at how the schedule breaks down by month:

December: 4 games (1 home, 3 road)

January: 16 games (11 home, 5 road)

February: 14 games (8 home, 6 road)

March: 17 games (6 home, 11 road)

April: 15 games (7 home, 8 road)

Opportunity before the All-Star break: The Celtics play 32 games before the All-Star break, 19 of which are at home. That's a chance to get off to a good start. Particularly when 20 of the final 34 after the break are on the road.

Breaking down the back-to-backs: The Celtics will play 19 back-to-backs this season and one back-to-back-to-back (a grueling three-game from April 13-15 with stops in Toronto, New Jersey, and Charlotte). Of the 41 games overall, 27 will take place on the road, which includes 12 that close on the road (something the Celtics struggled mightily with last season). A full breakdown of those consecutive games:

Dec. 27-28: at Miami, at New Orleans

Jan. 1-2: at Washington, Washington

Jan. 13-14: Chicago, at Indiana

Jan. 22-23: at Washington, Orlando

Jan. 26-27: at Orlando, Indiana

Jan. 31, Feb. 1: at Cleveland, Toronto

Feb. 9-10: Lakers, at Toronto

Feb. 15-16: Detroit, at Chicago

Feb. 19-20: at Detroit, at Dallas

Feb. 28-29: at Cleveland, Milwaukee

March 6-7: Houston, at Philadelphia

March 11-12: at Lakers, at Clippers

March 16-17: at Sacramento, at Denver

March 22-23: at Milwaukee, at Philadelphia

March 25-26: Washington, at Charlotte

April 4-5: San Antonio, at Chicago

April 7-8: at Indiana, Philadelphia

April 10-11: at Miami, Atlanta

April 13-14-15: at Toronto, at New Jersey, at Charlotte

April 17-18: at New York, Orlando