The 2023-24 NBA season schedule officially released Thursday afternoon, giving Celtics fans plenty to discuss. One thing everyone’s wondering about is when key offseason departures like Marcus Smart and Grant Williams, plus former head coach Ime Udoka, will return to Boston.
Now we finally have the dates for all three ex-Celtics.
Smart will return to TD Garden with the Memphis Grizzlies on Feb. 4, 2024. Williams and recent Celtic Kyrie Irving are visiting on March 1, 2024, with the Mavericks. Finally, Udoka — who’s now the head coach of the Rockets — is set to coach his team in Boston on Jan. 13, 2024.
Since all three are now apart of Western Conference teams, they’ll play at the Garden just once all season. Meanwhile, the Celtics will head on the road to face the Grizzlies on Nov. 19, the Rockets on Jan. 21 and the Mavericks on Jan. 22. That January back-to-back in Houston then in Dallas gives Boston a double dose of reunions with Irving and Williams on one night, then Udoka on the next.
Emotions are sure to run high, for different reasons, all three nights the Celtics host these former members of the organization. Smart is the most beloved of the three after spending nine successful seasons in Boston, earning plenty of fans due to his tenacity on defense and overall work ethic.
Williams grew up in front of fans’ eyes, taking on a bigger role each year since he was drafted out of Tennessee in 2019. He brought a similar fire to the court as Smart that will surely be missed, though it remains to be seen how much he takes off as a featured part of Dallas’ rotation.
Udoka, on the other hand, experienced incredible highs and devastating lows in just over a year as the Celtics’ head coach. He helped take the team to the NBA Finals, but that was quickly forgotten after his workplace scandal that led to his suspension and eventual firing. Given this, there’ll be plenty of mixed reactions on the night he does return to Boston.
These three games are sure to provide plenty of entertainment during what’s expected to be a huge year for Jayson Tatum and company. Hopefully they’re able to take care of business and prove they made the right decisions moving on from this trio.
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