BOSTON – When it comes to winning, the Boston Celtics have distinguished themselves as one of the best in doing so away from the TD Garden.
But for Boston to continue to be among the best in the Eastern Conference, taking care of business at home becomes an absolute necessity.
They will get plenty of opportunities to do just that with seven of their next eight games at the TD Garden.
The timing of a long homestand could not be any better for Boston, losers in two of their last three games – all on the road.
There has been noticeable slippage defensively by Boston which has allowed opponents to score at least 100 points in each of the Celtics’ last seven games.
In that span, Boston’s has had a defensive rating (points allowed per 100 possessions) of 110.2 which ranks 23rd in the NBA.
That’s a noticeably steep departure from their season defensive rating of 100.1 which ranks fifth in the league.
The recent struggles have dropped Boston (33-25) to the fourth spot in the East, mere percentage points behind Miami (32-24) which has won three straight.
Right about now Boston could use the kind of lift provided by playing in front of the Garden faithful.
“I’m looking forward to it,” said Boston’s Avery Bradley. “It’s going to be good (being) at home.”
But simply playing in front of their fans won’t cut it.
Their defense has to be more impactful. Ball movement can’t just be something that happens every other quarter, either.
“We just need to get some wins,” Bradley said. “I’m confident we can do that.”
The Celtics are 17-10 at home this season which puts them sixth among Eastern Conference teams in home victories.
This stretch will allow them to not just pad that total, but also establish a certain presence at home which they will need in order to remain among the top five or so teams in the East.
It’s pretty amazing how far this team has come in a relatively short period of time particularly when it comes to winning at home.
During Stevens’ first year, Boston’s rebuilding plan made winning difficult regardless of being home or away. Boston won 16 home games that season.
The success of that first season provided the jumping-off point for the following season in which the Celtics finished with the seventh-best record and returned to the playoffs after a one season absence. Part of that success included Boston finishing with a 21-20 record at home.
But the success and progress of the past won’t do the Celtics much good with the likes of Milwaukee and Miami coming into town in the coming days.
“We need to take advantage of the home court and try to win all seven,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas. “Take it one game at a time, but we definitely need to take advantage of this stretch.”