Why Tristan Thompson has been waiting for fans to return to TD Garden

The Celtics' March 29 matchup against the Pelicans will be their first home game in front of fans.

Tristan Thompson, who joined the Celtics after nine seasons with the Cavaliers, is fitting in well.
Tristan Thompson wasn't subtle in expressing his joy for Celtics fans to return to TD Garden. –Chris O'Meara/AP Photo

The return of fans to TD Garden finally has a date, and Celtics center Tristan Thompson can’t wait for it.

On Thursday, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced fans can return to sports venues in Boston at 12 percent capacity starting on March 22. The Celtics’ first home game after that date isn’t until a week later on March 29, when they’ll host the Pelicans.

Thompson wasn’t subtle in his reaction to Thursday’s news.

“Three words: About [expletive] time,” Thompson told reporters Friday.

When March 29 rolls around, it’ll mark Thompson’s first game in front of Celtics fans at home. The veteran center signed a two-year deal with Boston over the offseason. Thompson has some familiarity with the Boston crowd as he took on the Celtics in the playoffs three times during his nine seasons with the Cavaliers.

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Thompson said the Celtics’ fan base is part of the reason why he joined Boston.

“That’s one reason I wanted to join this organization, because of how amazing their fans are and their fan base,” Thompson said. “Of course we’re limited to 12 percent or whatever the number is, so I know that will be the strongest 12 percent there is in the league cheering for us every night.”

The news of fans returning to TD Garden comes during the worst stretch in recent memory for the Celtics. After starting the season out 8-3, the Celtics have gone 7-14 in their last 21 games. They enter Friday’s game against the Pacers on a three-game losing streak, with Wednesday’s embarrassing blowout to the Hawks being their most recent failure.

Thompson, who’s had an up-and-down first season in Boston, averaging 7.8 points and 8.4 rebounds per game, is hoping to get that boost when fans return to TD Garden.

“Having them back in the arena will bring that extra energy for us and give us that boost that we want and need sometimes during the game,” Thompson said. “I’m extremely excited, and as the weeks and months continue and the virus settles down a little bit and the vaccine gets going, we can get a higher percentage into the arena.”

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