Antelope Valley Press

In an era when home court means less and less, the Celtics are 16-0 at TD Garden


When the Boston Celtics were winning championsh­ips with Larry Bird and Kevin McHale in the 1980s, they were notoriousl­y tough to beat at home. The old Boston Garden could be oppressive­ly hot, and a rowdy home crowd added another obstacle.

Buildings in the NBA aren’t like that anymore, but the current Celtics are on their own impressive run at home.

Boston is 16-0 at TD Garden. With its corporate name and modern feel, that arena doesn’t have the mystique of the old Garden, but it does house a fine basketball team that is trying to leave its own mark on Celtics history.

“We got the best fans in the league,” guard Derrick White said last month when asked about receiving “MVP” chants. “I know I’m not the MVP, but it’s always cool to hear.”

Forgive Boston fans for getting a little carried away. At home at least, the Celtics look worthy of quite a few honors.

Amazingly, Boston’s perfect home record nearly ended last week against a team trying to halt an even longer streak. The Detroit Pistons took a 21-point lead in the second quarter before the Celtics came all the way back to win 128-122 in overtime on Thursday night. It was a record-tying 28th straight loss for the Pistons, and Boston would have been a most unlikely place for them to finally win.

Detroit did end the streak two nights later at home against Toronto. That was a night after the Celtics had also defeated Toronto at home, again barely keeping their streak alive with a 120-118 victory. Boston’s next home game is Friday against Utah. Minnesota, in town next week, could provide a significan­t test.

What’s interestin­g about this run by the Celtics is that overall, home-court advantage isn’t nearly what it used to be in the NBA. Last season, the home team won 58% of the time in the regular season. That number is around the same this season. Back in the late 80s, that figure was north of 65%. In the 1950-51 season, it was 74%.

In some ways, the Celtics themselves have reflected the overall state of home-court advantage in the NBA. In 1954-55 — when home court was a huge deal — Boston went 21-5 at home and 4-22 on the road.

In 1985-86, the Celtics set a record by going 40-1 at home. Then they went 10-0 at home in the playoffs en route to the championsh­ip.

Nowadays, nobody feels that unbeatable at home. Even Denver, with its difficult altitude, lost seven home games during the regular season in 2022-23, then another in the postseason on its way to the title. Whether it’s because of more comfortabl­e travel, less intimidati­ng venues or other reasons, winning on the road is a good bit more common now.

That’s not to say nobody can put up a dominant home record anymore. San Antonio matched Boston’s record by going 40-1 in 2015-16, losing only to Golden State in its next-to-last home game — a victory the Warriors needed while closing in on the all-time wins record of 73.

Of course, those Spurs then dropped two of their three home games during a second-round playoff loss to Oklahoma City.

There are signs that homecourt advantage isn’t as big a factor anymore in the postseason either.

From 1983-94, home teams were undefeated in Game 7s. And after Washington beat Seattle in 1978, no road team won Game 7 of the NBA Finals until LeBron James and Cleveland did it at Golden State in 2016.

These days, however, home court assures nothing in a Game 7. Last season, two road teams won in that scenario — Golden State at Sacramento and Miami at Boston. That was, remarkably, the fourth time in the past two decades that the Celtics have dropped a Game 7 at home. It also happened in 2005 against Indiana, 2009 against Orlando and 2018 against Cleveland.

In that span, no other team has lost more than two Game 7s at home.

So Boston’s dominance at TD Garden is noteworthy, but the Celtics know as much as anyone that they can’t take it for granted when they start the postseason.

 ?? Associated Press ?? Fans react behind the Celtics’ Jrue Holiday (4) and the Raptors’ Dennis Schroder (17) after the Celtics prevented the Raptors from scoring in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, Friday, in Boston.
Associated Press Fans react behind the Celtics’ Jrue Holiday (4) and the Raptors’ Dennis Schroder (17) after the Celtics prevented the Raptors from scoring in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, Friday, in Boston.

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