BOSTON — It’s been quite some time since the Celtics played in front of a TD Garden crowd as raucous as the one that showed up Sunday night.
A sellout crowd of 18,624 packed the arena on Causeway Street to watch Boston take on the visiting Golden State Warriors. Some surely came just to watch arguably the best team in the NBA work it’s magic — the plentiful Stephen Curry jerseys dotting the black and yellow seats were evidence of that — but those expecting a Golden State beatdown were sorely mistaken.
The Celtics flat-out dominated the Warriors for the better part of 30 minutes, leading by as many as 26 points in the first half and taking a 16-point advantage into the locker room.
Nobody keeps a team of this caliber silent for long, though, and the Warriors slowly got to work erasing the Celtics’ lead before jumping ahead late in the fourth. An Isaiah Thomas 3-pointer that would have tied the game with three seconds remaining missed its mark, and the Celtics were left to contemplate what could have been after a 106-101 loss.
“It was great,” Thomas said of the atmosphere for his third home game as a Celtic. “It was one of those games I used to watch on TV when (Kevin) Garnett and those guys were here. The crowd was wild, the energy was crazy — that’s what you want to be a Boston Celtic for. That was amazing. It just hurts because we didn’t finish it off.”
The loss snapped a three-game win streak for the Celtics, and the manner in which they lost left guard Evan Turner with a particularly unpleasant taste in his mouth. For Turner, it was the worst kind of déjà vu, a return to Boston’s early-season trend of grabbing huge leads before coming apart at the seams down the stretch.
“No,” Turner responded when asked whether the team can take any positives away from the loss, “because I thought we should have won the game. We’ve been playing great. I don’t think we’ve given up a big lead in a while and lost a game, so … there’s no such thing as good losses.”
The Celtics haven’t been ones for moral victories this season, but Sunday’s defeat shouldn’t be judged purely on the final result. The Warriors currently sit atop the loaded Western Conference, and in two games against them this season, the Celtics, who now sit one game out of eighth place in the East, have lost by total of just eight points.
The second of those losses also came in what might have been the worst game of Thomas’ young Celtics tenure. The point guard finished with a team-high 20 points, but just five of those came in the second half. A performance in the vein of his first few in Boston might have been enough to push the C’s over the top.
“They’re playing for the playoffs,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “They have a fast team. They’re incredibly well-coached and disciplined, and they make it hard on you. Fortunately, we had a full quarter and a half to get back in it.”
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images