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Celtics’ Schedule Released, Play Heat, Bulls Four Times

The Celtics begin their 2011-12 season on Christmas Day on the road against the Knicks. (themitchellreport.wordpress.com)

With the theatrics of the lockout finally over, basketball fans are ready for the games to be played. Well, it’s now time to break out your calenders and circle the marquee games.

The Celtics announced their 2011-12 schedule Tuesday night, a compacted 66-game schedule that will span from Christmas Day against the Knicks until the regular season finale against the Milwaukee Bucks on April 26. In between, the veteran Celtics will have 19 back-to-backs, a back-to-back-to-back in April, a nine-game road trip, and a quartet of contests against Chicago, Miami and New York.

Here is a look at some notable match-ups:

December 25 at New York Knicks, Noon, TNT
The Celtics commence the 2011-12 campaign against the Knicks on Christmas Day. In a rematch of the 2011 Eastern Quarterfinals (a 4-0 sweep for Boston), the Celtics will look to get the season off on the right foot against Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire. This will be the first of four games between these two squads (Feb. 3 vs. NY, March 4 vs. NY, April 17 at NY).

December 27 at Miami Heat, 8:00, TNT
Boston plays their second game of the season against the Heat in another playoff rematch. The Celtics will have plenty of energy in this one, and better use it all because it’s the only match up until April, when the teams play three times.

January 11 vs. Dallas Mavericks, 7:00, ESPN
The Celtics welcome the defending NBA Champions to the TD Garden in this mid-January clash. Dirk Nowitzki, Northeastern alum Jose Juan Barrea, and the rest of the Mavericks will be ready for the challenge in the first of two games between these two fiercely competitive teams. The rematch is Feb. 20 in Dallas.

January 13 vs. Chicago Bulls, 7:00, TNT
Another early season marquee contest brings reigning MVP Derrick Rose and Coach of the Year  and former Celtics’ assistant Tom Thibodeau to the Garden. These games are always close, as evidenced by the epic seven-game playoff series in 2009. The return of Coach Thibodeau to Boston always ignites the rivalry. It is the first of four between these two teams (Feb. 12 vs. Chicago, Feb. 16 at Chicago, April 5 at Chicago).

January 16 vs. Oklahoma City,7:00, ESPN
The return of former Celtic great Kendrick Perkins will be the headline in this one, but a passing of the torch from one of the league’s oldest teams to one of its youngest, most talented teams will also take place. Stars like Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook will trek to the Garden in the first of two against the Thunder.

March 11 at Los Angeles Lakers, 3:30, ABC
This game will be the second of the season between these two superpowers (the first is on Feb. 9), but this one matters more: it’s the first of a nine-game road trip, the Celtics longest of the season.

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