TD Garden Becomes Unstoppable Force as C's Reach Brink of Finals
BOSTON – Jaylen Brown said Wednesday night that, as the tale is told, the TD Garden crowd is the best sixth man in the NBA.
Apologies to Eric Gordon, Jamal Crawford, et al. The tale is true.
Brown and the Boston Celtics on Wednesday night advanced their home record to a perfect 10-0 during the 2018 postseason by downing the Cleveland Cavaliers 96-83. With the win, they earned a commanding 3-2 series lead in the Eastern Finals and remain as the only team out of the playoff bracket to be undefeated at home while hosting more than three games.
That includes the vaunted Golden State Warriors and their famed Oracle Arena.
If you were inside the building Wednesday night, you felt it. If you were watching from home, you saw it.
And if you happened to miss the game entirely, here’s some enlightenment: ‘it’ was an unstoppable force.
Cleveland wasn't going to win Game 5. Point, blank, period.
The Celtics weren’t going to let it happen. The crowd wasn’t going to let it happen. The city wasn’t going to let it happen.
Boston, as a team, a fan base and a city, was to take a 3-2 series lead no matter what LeBron James and his teammates had in store for Game 5.
“I just think that at home, one of the big things is – I truly believe it's our fans,” Al Horford said of the difference for Boston thus far in the series. “I feel like our guys feed off of them and it really just drives us as a group.”
And, vice versa.
The team and the crowd fed off of each other during the first quarter, building a tidal wave of energy that Cleveland could not quell. As the Celtics canned 3-pointer after 3-pointer – six in all during the opening frame – the crowd grew louder and louder. And as the crowd grew louder and louder, the Celtics played better and better, making every play that was available to be made on the court – and even some that weren’t - as it built a 13-point lead.
Cleveland simply had no chance after that.
“For whatever reason, we were just so locked in, so engaged,” said Horford, who was one of three different Celtics who after the game used the term ‘locked in’ to describe the team. “It's not like we haven't been in the past, but I just felt like the guys were just ready to get on the floor tonight after the loss in Game 4 and just get it going again.”
So were the fans. There was a palpable buzz inside the arena from the very start of the game.
While it's very possible that the building reached higher decibel levels during Boston’s 22--point comeback win over the 76ers during the second round, this crowd brewed with natural energy well before the Celtics put Wednesday’s Game 5 away. There was just a different feeling in the air – a feeling of determination, from everyone involved. The crowd felt it, and the players did, too.
“When we’re out there, we can definitely feel the energy the Garden is giving us,” Brown said, after his talk of the legendary tale of Boston’s crowd. “And we use it to do what we gotta do.”
Everyone in Boston knew what the Celtics and their Garden faithful needed to do Wednesday night. And they went out and did it.
They arrived with a purpose. They punched first. They made the Cleveland Cavaliers feel utterly uncomfortable to be inside that building.
They banded together to create an unstoppable force for the 10th consecutive time this postseason, a number that is unmatched in this year’s postseason.
The tale, as it’s told, is unmistakably true. The TD Garden crowd is the best sixth man in the league.
Now, with Wednesday’s victory in tow, the Celtics and their incomparable fan base are on the doorstep of the NBA Finals.
That tale, while also true, once seemed inconceivable.