WALTHAM, Mass. — After dropping two consecutive playoff games in Cleveland, the Boston Celtics are thrilled to be back home.
Game 3 of their first-round series with the Cavaliers will be held Thursday at TD Garden — the first playoff game in Boston since May 3, 2013.
“I’ve heard a lot of great things about it,” forward Jae Crowder said after Wednesday’s practice. “I’m looking forward to it. I probably won’t sleep good (Wednesday night) because I’m so anxious to get Game 3 underway. But I love playing in the Garden. I love the energy the fans bring. It’s amazing. I’m sure it’s going to be a great feeling.”
Crowder is one of 12 current Celtics players who have never played in a postseason game at the Garden. Only three have: Avery Bradley, Brandon Bass and Evan Turner, who lost to the C’s in a seven-game series during his tenure with the Philadelphia 76ers.
“It’s crazy,” Turner said. “Fans are crazy during the (regular) season, so during the playoffs, it’s obviously even crazier. A lot of energy, and it’s definitely fun to be a part of.”
In addition to the issues crowd noise can cause for visiting teams (Turner noted that communicating play calls is more difficult on the road), the Celtics hope a return home will lead to an uptick in their shooting percentage, which fell below 40 percent Tuesday in Game 2.
“I feel like it (will improve), especially in our home court,” Crowder said. “… (The Cavs) hit 13 threes in Game 1. So, you’re going to shoot the ball well, I feel like, on your home court, and it’s good we get to go back and play on our home court. I feel like we can do the same.”
Some additional notes from Wednesday’s practice happenings:
— Turner criticized the officiating after Tuesday’s 99-91 loss, and fouls again were a primary topic of conversation Wednesday, particularly as they related to the Celtics’ defense on LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.
“We’ve got to play aggressive,” Crowder said. “We can’t just let those guys do whatever they want. But at the same time, we have to gauge it and pick our poison on when to do it and when not to. But if we get up against the foul count early in the half, you know you’ve got to fall back a little bit. It’s just being smart and aware of the game.”
“It’s not in our control,” head coach Brad Stevens added. “You play as well as you can. You play as hard as you can. (The referees) have a hard job to do, and we all recognize that. It’s an emotional game. None of that’s in our control. We focus on today what we need to focus on.”
— Forward Jonas Jerebko did not see the floor during the first half Tuesday and played just four total minutes after logging 19 in Game 1. Stevens said Wednesday that Jerebko is dealing with “a little calf issue.”
“I didn’t know if he’d be full go or not,” Stevens said. “He said he was fine, but I also felt like with (Jared Sullinger) and Kelly (Olynyk), maybe we would play a little bit more traditional, and maybe be able to rebound a little better and still stretch the floor. But we could very well see Jerebko for a lot of minutes (in Game 3) too.”
— Stevens said he’s thought about switching up the Celtics’ lineup, presumably either to insert Crowder to guard James or to promote point guard Isaiah Thomas, who’s scored a team-high 42 points thus far in the series.
Both options have their drawbacks. The Celtics were significantly worse during Crowder’s stint in the starting five earlier this season, and Thomas’ defensive shortcomings — especially when he’d be tasked with guarding either Irving or J.R. Smith — might be too significant.
“I’m considering it,” Stevens said. “But the one thing we haven’t done is started slow.”
That much is true. Boston outscored Cleveland in the first quarter in each of the first two games.
Thumbnail photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images