BOSTON – The NBA playoffs don’t start for another six weeks, but that didn’t stop the Celtics from getting an early taste of what those festivities might feel like Sunday night at the TD Garden.
From the opening tip, a sold out Garden crowd provided plenty of energy to the new-look Celtics, helping them jump out to a 26-point lead in the second quarter over the NBA’s best team.
Even though that lead did not hold up in a 106-101 loss to the Golden State Warriors, the vociferous support remained constant to the bitter end. After the game, the Celtics locker room couldn’t help but take note of an environment that most teams with a 23-34 record don’t get a chance experience.
“It was kind of like a playoff atmosphere tonight,” Brandon Bass said after the game. “It felt great to play in an atmosphere like that. It kind of felt like old times.”
Bass made a couple trips to the postseason in his first two seasons in Boston, including a 2012 run to the Eastern Conference Finals with the Big Three. New addition Isaiah Thomas has never been in the postseason, but remembers those Garden crowds vividly.
“It was one of them games I used to watch on TV when (Kevin) Garnett and them guys were here, and the crowd was wild,” said Thomas. “Energy was crazy. That’s what you want to be a Boston Celtic for. That was amazing. It just hurts because we didn’t finish it out.”
For the time being, that inability to finish dropped the Celtics out of the playoff picture. They are now one game behind the eighth spot in the Eastern Conference, and are bunched up among five teams in the race for the final East playoff berth.
It’s too early to tell if the Celtics will succeed with their postseason push, but the Garden faithful like what they have seen lately, and it’s leaving quite the impression on the Celtic roster.