There’s nothing that’s ever made me feel more like a Celtics fan than being in the garden last night for that game. What Isaiah did last night will go down as one of the greatest games in the history of TD Garden. I’ve heard the stories of games of garden past. The stories of Bird, and Russell, and the stories about what ‘nights at the garden’ were like when the Celtics were winning championship after championship. What the games were like back in those days, and how being part of those crowds was a different type of experience. Before I get into that, here’s how it all went down.
Going into the 4th quarter, I looked up and Isaiah had 23. Up to that point, this was by no means an unbelievable Isaiah game. I remember looking up in the middle of the 2nd too, he had about 16 and I was a bit surprised he had that many points already. That would not be the last time I was surprised by how many points Isaiah had. So he had 23, and given his 4th quarter scoring average he was on pace for about 33 or 34, which would have been really nice, but it was by no means a guarantee he would get there. I went with my friend Ryan who is primarily a Bruins fan, and I was thinking “Ok, I just want Isaiah to get about 30 so that he knows that we have a real player on the team.” So, the 4th started and it started with Kelly Olynyk having the worst 3 minute stretch of his career, and, single handedly, he put the Celtics down 5, after a 11-2 run by the Heat. Brad took him out and the crowd sarcastically cheered as he headed to the bench, then Brad calls time out. I don’t know what happened during that time out, I don’t know if it was something Brad said, or something an assistant coach said, or maybe just something going on in Isaiah’s head, but when the Celtics came back on the court, it began. In all but one of the next four possessions, Isaiah hit a 3 pointer. He was hot, but you didn’t know he was THAT hot… what happened next is history. Isaiah couldn’t miss. 52 points.
Isaiah set the Celtics record for points in a quarter, tied the Celtics record for most 3 pointers in a game, and broke the Celtics record for most points in the new garden. That night, the garden was going crazy. The MVP chants were... at the very least wishful thinking and at most maybe... a bit delusional. But try telling that to a Celtics fan last night, and you would get thrown out of the building. The aisles were swamped with fans. People were running back and forth and I was jumping out to high five them, I didn’t even know these people but we were all jumping around going insane. I didn’t realize how crazy we were going, until one point in the 4th quarter where Hassan Whiteside went down, and I didn’t even see what happened, all I saw was Hassan Whiteside on the ground, play was stopped, and he was writhing in pain. For all most of us in the garden knew, Whiteside could have torn his ACL. Even so, while Whiteside was on the crowd we booed the shit out of him. I stopped myself in the middle, and turned to my friend Ryan and said “this is insane, he could’ve just tore his ACL”. Then, I went back to booing Whiteside. It was at that moment I felt how brutal the Celtics crowd can be to opposing players first hand. I would assume some national broadcaster would have called it ‘unclassy’, but at the same time, it was what I would expect from any Boston crowd.
Anytime you go to a Celtics game, you should want to be a part of something special like that. It’s a rarity for a regular season game to give you that type of atmosphere, but this one did. Not since the 80’s, in the old garden, has someone scored that many points at in a Celtics jersey. I’ve heard the stories of the 80’s garden crowds from people like Bill Simmons. I’ve heard about how crazy and brutalizing they were. Celtics crowds are highly regarded amongst the league as one of the best. All fan bases like to think they have the best home crowd, but for all teams how good your team is will dictate how good your crowd is. The true best fan bases are there when you’re a somewhat middling team, and Celtics fans are there. Larry Bird once said of Celtics fans “I’ve never seen the opposing fans get on anyone like I’ve seen (Boston fans) get on Ralph Sampson… They took him completely out of the game.” I felt that type of atmosphere in the garden last night. Bill Simmons said once that he’s convinced that the garden crowd jedi mind tricked Robert Parish into punching Bill Laimbeer in the face. Being in the garden those nights in the 80’s was more than an experience, it was a responsibility.
It will be hard to top that night in the garden. It will go down as one of the greatest 4th quarter scoring outbursts in league history. I’ll never see something like that again, and who knows when I’ll ever get to chant MVP with a Celtic at the free throw line again. All I can do is thank Isaiah. That man is worth the price of admission. Isaiah Thomas: The Greatest Point Guard In Celtics History… already.
Photo Credit: (ConnorSports)