Two hundred seventy-six days is a long time to be away from home.
Fortunately, the Boston Celtics made their return to TD Garden on Thursday for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic halted the league’s season. The Celtics, as you may recall, practiced at the Auerbach Center before leaving for the NBA’s bubble in Orlando, and had done so throughout preseason as well.
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens explained why the team decided to conclude the nine-month drought when he spoke to reporters after Thursday’s practice.
“We wanted to come down to the Garden today, because we haven?t been in here since we played before we left for the Indiana game (on March 10) — I think it was the Oklahoma City game,? Stevens said of the team’s March 8 contest against the Thunder. “None of us have been in the building, and just walking back in here was nice. It was great to be back in here, even without fans.”
Jayson Tatum was excited for the return, as well.
“It felt good being back. Obviously, it?s been a while,” the NBA All-Star said. “It felt good just driving in, walking back, being in the locker room, being on the court.”
More than anything, though, it was a sense of normalcy for the C’s, who are less than two weeks away from beginning their 2020-21 season.
“This change of scenery was nice, too, to do something different,” Stevens said. “We scrimmaged, played up and down a little bit more, and I think that was a real positive. There were some good moments and some bad moments, but we?re getting there.”
The Celtics will host the Milwaukee Bucks in their season opener on Dec. 23, though fans will not be in attendance at TD Garden for the time being.