Celtics

Celtics

For decades, the Boston Garden was a House of Horrors for opponents looking to get a road win over the Celtics. 

The energy from Celtics fans was palatable to foes, more times than not leaving them with a bad taste in their mouths and a loss to boot. 

But as time moved on, very little changed with the venue amenities (outdated seating, no luxury suites for example) which slowly began to push the Garden to the back of pack as far as arenas were concerned.

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And on this day 25 years ago, the venerable Boston Garden would be the home of the Boston Celtics for the very last time as Boston saw its season end with a 95-92 playoff loss to the Orlando Magic in Game 4 of their best-of-five playoff series. 

That game had a down-to-the-wire finish, the kind of game that Celtics fans had grown quite accustomed to seeing from the team at home. 

But that 1995 team, more than most Celtics squads, didn’t have the usual roster full of talent poised to make a deep playoff run. 

Instead of a Big Three of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale and Robert Parish, Boston’s Big Three in 1995 was an aging Dominique Wilkins, Dino Radja and Dee Brown.

Wilkins, a former standout with the Atlanta Hawks whose battles with Larry Bird were legendary, was leading the way in this Boston Garden finale. 

He along with Sherman Douglas (21 points, six rebounds, five assists) got the eighth-seeded Celtics within striking distance in the closing seconds of play. 

But Boston couldn’t capitalize on its opportunities in the closing moments to extend the series to a winner-take-all fifth game. 

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Wilkins had a monster double-double of 22 points and 18 rebounds, but he missed the second of two free throws with 16.2 seconds to play which would have tied the game. 

Boston would have one last shot at tying the game, but Douglas’ 3-point attempt in the closing seconds was blocked as Orlando, led by Anfernee Hardaway and Shaquille O’Neal, held on for the win. The Magic would advance to the NBA Finals where they were swept by the Houston Rockets. 

The loss not only ended the Celtics season but also brought closure to one of the few arenas in the NBA that provided a legit home-court advantage. 

Tex Rickard was an entrepreneur and boxing promoter who built the Garden in 1928 so that the seats would be close to the action, a not-so-subtle design nod towards boxing that would prove to be huge in establishing the Celtics’ home-court advantage when the arena hosted basketball games.  

Some of the most dominant seasons at home in NBA history were on the Boston Garden parquet floor, including the 1986 team — arguably the greatest NBA team ever — that was a league-record 40-1 at home (37-1 at the Boston Garden, 3-0 at the Hartford Civic Center).

That team went on to win the franchise’s 16th NBA title which included a flawless 10-0 record at the Boston Garden with an average margin of victory of 17.3 points per game.

Winning championships and down-to-the-wire finishes are just some of the memories folks take away from the team’s time at the Boston Garden, a place that saw them consistently deliver the kind of memories that still linger 25 years after the final game at the venerable Boston Garden was played.