BOSTON – Joel Embiid said after Game 1 that Philadelphia’s crowd is louder than Boston’s.
He may want to reconsider that thought after Thursday night.
TD Garden was NBA Finals-loud during Game 2. It was absolutely deafening during the second quarter, as the Celtics began storming back from a 22-point deficit that eventually turned into a 108-103 victory.
No one playing for either team – save for Al Hoford, who once played in a Game 7 at TD Garden during Boston’s title run back in 2008 – had ever played in a building that loud.
That includes Embiid, who calls the Wells Fargo Center home.
Brad Stevens called Thursday night a “special environment,” and he couldn’t have been any more accurate.
The sellout crowd of 18,624 fans fed off of Boston’s history-making run, as the C’s became just the third team in the last decade to complete a comeback of at least 22 points during the postseason. The 2008 Celtics and the 2018 Thunder are the only other teams to have accomplished the feat.
After trailing by 22 with less than seven minutes remaining in the first half, the Celtics finished the half on a 25-8 run to pull to within five, all the while blowing the lid off of the most famous building in Boston.
“That was a win that was largely attributed to the unbelievable effort of our players and the other 18,000 people in here,” Stevens said after the game. “It was one of those deals: we needed everybody engaged in the game, and it was a special environment.”
Terry Rozier, who continued to play at an absurdly high level by notching 20 points and a game-high (and turnover-free) nine assists, was asked how the Celtics made history Thursday night. The first factor to which he pointed? The people who surrounded him and his teammates.
“Our fans,” he immediately answered. “Our fans and us believing, us coming together even more in the huddle, and definitely our fans and the energy that they brought tonight.”
As the Celtics crept closer and closer during the latter moments of that second quarter, TD Garden grew louder and louder. And after that? Well, there was no denying an entire building filled with Celtic Pride.
“Once we got on that run,” said Rozier, “we never looked back.”
Now the Celtics have built a 2-0 series lead, the same lead they built during their first-round series against Milwaukee, which went to seven games. Boston will now head to Philadelphia looking to avoid a similar seven-game path.
Doing so will surely be a challenge. The 76ers are an incredibly talented team, and their fan base is starving for success. The crowd at Games 3 and 4 will surely be hostile and electric.
But will those crowds eclipse the decibel level that was heard Thursday night at TD Garden? That’s unlikely, but the final answer to that question is largely in the hands of the Celtics.
Boston failed to win a game on the road during the first round. It now has plans to change that trend and to take control of this series.
“We took care of business at home and that is the most important thing,” Rozier said. “Now we are looking to steal one on the road.”
If the Celtics do so, they will either have the opportunity to close out the series in Game 4, or they’ll head back to Boston with a 3-1 series lead.
And in the process, they’ll have silenced a Philadelphia crowd that Embiid dared to deem more raucous than Boston’s.