Celtics Practice at TD Garden for First Time
BOSTON – There has been only one Opening Night in the past nine years that forced the Boston Celtics to open up their season on the road. Thanks to a compressed 66-game schedule that begins on Christmas Day, the C’s can go ahead and make it two out of 10.
The original 82-game schedule called for Boston to play host to the Cavaliers on Nov. 2 for Opening Night, but now the team will open its season on Christmas in New York against the Knicks.
Follow that opener up with two more road games, on Nov. 27 in Miami and on Nov. 28 in New Orleans, and a unique problem begins to arise: Not only will the Celtics miss out on opening their season at home, as they typically do, but they won’t even play in their own arena until nearly a week after their season has tipped off.
Such a problem is causing Doc Rivers to think ahead of the curve and bring some creativity to his practice schedule. He chose to hold practice both today and tomorrow at the TD Garden, rather than wait until just before the team’s home opener – seeing as that opportunity basically doesn’t even exist.
Explaining why practice was at the Garden today, Rivers said, “Because we need to be in this building more. Our (home) Opening Night is what, five days after the season opens? That’s unusual.”
So is practicing at the Garden this early in the season. Boston has typically only held about one practice per season at the Garden, with that slot being taken by their league-mandated open practice.
The Celtics will already eclipse that number by Friday, and that decision wasn’t only aimed at helping the starters re-acclimate themselves to the Garden’s atmosphere. In fact, it was likely meant more for the newcomers, who have never worn green and white in the Garden before.
“We have a lot of new guys,” said Rivers, putting an emphasis on the lot, “that haven’t been in this building, on our side at least. So I just thought it was a way of getting three [practices] in a row (here)… so when they do come back on Dec. 30, it won’t be an away gym to them.”
Helping to get the new guys comfortable with their surroundings is critical for any team. Who wants to walk into every game of the season feeling as if they’re on the road?
Brandon Bass, one of the new guys for the Celtics, is slowly beginning to ease his way into calling Boston his home. Walking into the Garden today for the first time as a home player was an experience he had never dealt with before.
“It felt a little weird. I didn’t know where to go,” he joked. “Walking in that locker room, seeing the pictures on that wall of the legends that have played here, it was a great feeling.”
A great feeling, but a different feeling at the same time. Most NBA stories written around the country are about players fitting in with teams, but these players are also trying to adjust to their new surroundings. As Bass told reporters today, it hasn’t been a cakewalk.
“Just walking into a new environment I felt a little uncomfortable,” he said. “But the guys quickly made me feel at home. Kevin welcomed me, Paul, Ray, all the guys made me feel comfortable quick.”
That’s one of the luxuries of being around the type of professionals that make up the core of the Boston Celtics. It doesn’t hurt that the team’s coach knows how to make everyone comfortable, either.
That was the goal of bringing the team to the Garden today. Rivers has a plan, and it revolves around Dec. 30, when the Detroit Pistons come to town.