The new season is still over two months away, and already the Boston Celtics have been given a little reminder that they are not the same team they used to be.
For the 2014-15 season, the Celtics will appear on national television just once. That's a considerable decline from 2012. It's true testament really of the attitude towards teams that are in rebuild mode. No one wants to pay attention, but they will check in to see how you're doing.
The Celtics certainly seem to have gotten the short end of the stick again when it comes to scheduling. Last season, when Brad Stevens started working as the new head coach of the C's, they started with a packed schedule that left them exhausted just two months in. This season could well prove to be a similar story.
According to Boston.com, the Celtics are only going to be playing 13 games this season where they will be better rested than their opponents. That's tied with the Atlanta Hawks for the fewest in the league. The C's will also be one of the teams that has to travel the most this season, and they don't play many games where their opponent is at the tail end of a back-to-back.
It's going to be long and exhausting again for the C's, but they still have some games that will prove to be interesting. Playing against the New York Knicks at the start of December will be a matchup to watch out for. If anything, the rivalry between these two teams has gotten stronger since the arrival of Phil Jackson as the Knicks President, and bragging rights will be quite a commodity for the Celtics. When you're in rebuild mode, you need something for people to cheer about.
Just two days after they play the Knicks in December, the C's will go up against the Washington Wizards in the battle of the rebuilds. With the Wizards also sporting a young team that has more potential for the future than anything else, it will be interesting to see which team's bright future will come shining through. And of course there will be the small matter of going up against Paul Pierce in a Wizards uniform. That will be something very difficult to get used to.
Then, there's opening night when the C's take on the Brooklyn Nets. Will there be as much fanfare this time when Kevin Garnett returns to TD Garden? Probably not. But the memory will still be there for the Celtics fans. So far Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens haven't done enough to stop C's fans enjoying a little nostalgia. It will be a while before the C's get their fans to enjoy the moment.
There's no doubt that the Celtics will find it tough this year. It's going to be a long season. But Ainge, Stevens, and their team need to demonstrate that some form of improvement has been made. That doesn't necessarily mean a playoff spot, or even a record above .500. Just something that shows that the rebuild is working.
At the moment, it looks like it is. But we'll know for sure in April.