Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports

Celtics to host Christmas Day game next season for first time in 53 years

Nick Neville
August 11, 2017 - 11:08 am

Thanks to some Fourth of July fireworks, the Celtics upgraded their roster this offseason, and it appears the NBA has noticed.

For the first time in 53 years, and just the second time ever in Boston, the Celtics will host a Christmas Day game at the TD Garden.

On Thursday, the league released its national television broadcast schedule and full slate of Christmas games. After it was confirmed that Boston would be heading to London in January to play the 76ers, the NBA also announced that the Celtics would face off against the Cavaliers in an Eastern Conference Finals rematch on opening night and host the Wizards on Christmas Day.

This is a key development for the franchise, which in a span of three years has gone from having one nationally televised game all season to being chosen for three of the year’s most coveted.

During the Big Three era, the Celtics played five consecutive Christmas games, none of which were at home. They did play on December 25 last season, though, when they traveled to Madison Square Garden to take on the Knicks.

This year’s game against the Wizards will be a rematch of the highly-contested Eastern Conference semifinals series from a season ago.

The Celtics have played 31 Christmas games in franchise history, and the only other time that they were the home team was in 1964, when Sam Jones dropped 34 points to lead the Green to a 118-106 victory over the Pistons.

The team tradition of only playing road games on Christmas dates back to days of Red Auerbach. The storied coach and executive did not want to have team staff work on holidays.

Expectations will be high next season for Boston, especially with uncertainty in Cleveland over whether or not Kyrie Irving will still be playing alongside LeBron James. These marquee matchups will give Isaiah Thomas and newly-acquired forward Gordon Hayward a chance to prove that they belong at the top of the Eastern Conference.

The complete 2017-18 regular season schedule is set to be released next week.

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