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So there I was, walking out of North Station and heading to the TD Garden on Wednesday night for the Boston Celtics first home game of the year. It was early but there was still that feeling all Celtics fans get as they walk towards the Garden together. The Boston policemen were directing traffic in their raincoats as it had been raining heavily for most of the day. The bars were packed, Celtics’ jerseys were worn by fans of all ages, and there were people all over the streets. A man was standing on a wooden box outside selling t-shirts that read “Hope” with a picture of Rasheed Wallace underneath for $15, and no one was buying them. We finally approached the Garden and everyone tried to get in as fast as possible.
I saw security checking bags and staff scanning tickets, and I was finally there. T-shirts draped every one of the 18,624 seats inside the arena with the phrase “Reloaded” on it with a picture of the Celtics classic logo above. It was a sight that can’t be imagined, it was one of those “you had to be there to see it” moments. The smell of Uno’s pizza mixed with nachos, pretzels, and beer covered the arena as the pregame introductions began. The Charlotte Bobcats went first as people still scattered to find their seats without paying attention to the team’s players. A video then played on the jumbo-tron that really got the fans into the game, highlighting the team’s key signings and the return of almost every player.
The focus of the night and on the season seems to be that the Celtics have put last season behind them and now they are ready to win another title. As the Celtics were introduced, the players received some of the loudest cheers of the night, without even playing a minute of the game. Then, the lights went out and a video was shown of the Celts impressive victory the night before against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Paul Pierce then walked to the center of famous parquet floor and made all the fans in the building believe in his team. At this point the crowd was roaring and could not wait for their beloved team to start playing. Moments later the Celtics tipped off another season at home, and they did it with so much class. I don’t know if I have seen the Celtics play as well as they did last night, even if it was against the lowly Bobcats.
The Celtics took the energy from the fans and used it on the court as they were able to get out to a quick 8-0 lead and completely dominated down below on the boards. After pesky defense by Rajon Rondo and when Rasheed Wallace checked into the game for the first time, fans were going off the wall. By this point, the Celtics just ended the first quarter and were up 22-13, controlling the game entirely.
Late in the second quarter, Garnett swatted his second shot of the game to give the Celtics four blocked shots on the night. After multiple threes by Ray Allen and big plays from ‘Sheed, the Celtics ended the half up 42-31. Charlotte was able to pull within three points of Boston but the Celtics held their own and went on multiple runs to relax the screaming fans.
It’s not often that fans will remember the third quarter of a game, but on this night it was a little different. With the first unit on the floor, they embarrassed the Bobcats enough to make them look like a high school team on the court. With Rondo taking a lot of chances on a number of plays, he took a pass from Kevin Garnett and threw it to Kendrick Perkins in the post for a reverse jam to bring the whole Garden to it’s feet. Moments later, Pierce hit a three and then slammed down a one-handed dunk to highlight a 20-0 run by the Celtics. During the third quarter, it was hard not to think that Charlotte might not even make it to 50 points on the entire game.
After the Boston starters were taken out of the game by Doc Rivers towards the end of the third, the crowd seemed to relax and take this one as a win. With all the Celtics’ reserves in, the team was still able to cruise to an easy 92-59 win to move to 2-0 on the year. It was a pretty impressive game defensively to say the least, and it was the perfect home opener.
Fans left the Garden halfway through the fourth quarter, but all of hundred people or so were left at the end of the game, and they stood tall and cheered loudly. As I left the Garden, there was no difference. The musicians were playing their buckets, pots and pans outside with vendors yelling to buy their t-shirts and fans were ecstatic. It was like a playoff victory. Even though I’ve never been to a Celtics playoff game, I could imagine that the fans acted like it was.
With the free t-shirts being worn or around the necks of fans, everyone was still talking about the game and how awesome it was, as I headed onto the Green Line towards Riverside.
The Celtics are back in town ready to win Banner No. 18 and seem to be better than ever. It’s going to be a fun season, and maybe ‘Sheed was right about this team getting the most wins ever a regular season.