I've heard several of the players this season talk about needing to establish themselves at home and make the Garden a place that opposing teams dread playing. They have the right idea in theory, but with just a 3-2 record at home, they haven't gotten it to the reality stage yet.
With 4 of the next 5 games at home, this would be a good time to start establishing that tough home identity. It won't be easy though with the Spurs and the Thunder coming up in their next two games. An effort like the one we saw against the Pistons just won't cut it. And after a one game trip to Orlando, it's back to the Garden for the Bucks and Blazers. None of these will be a cake walk. But, they are all important if the Celtics expect to establish themselves at home.
The crowd at the Garden always does their part. Who can forget the final Garden game from last season where the Celtics were losing by 20 to the Heat and the crowd chanted "Let's Go Celtics" for the final four minutes. It was inspiring and I've never seen a display of fan support like that ever in all my years of watching basketball. The fans make the Garden inhospitable to visiting teams and they show great support for the team, but the fans aren't enough to make visiting teams dread coming to Boston.
One of the greatest teams in NBA history showed what home court advantage is. The 1985-86 Celtics lost just one game at home. Only the Trailblazers came into the Garden and won there that season. That was the old Garden though where it was too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter and the dead spots on the floor were notorious and the water in the visitors' showers was cold. Maybe too much comfort isn't a good thing.
Home court advantage should be just that - an advantage. But for it to be an advantage a team has to be dominant at home and make opponents think twice when they come there to play. They have to doubt themselves when they take the court to play there. It can't just be the building or the court. It has to begin and end with the team playing on the court. And every year, each team has to re-establish that dominance.
The Celtics have just 4 players in the rotation now that were here last season. They have been trying to build chemistry and learn to play well together. They've had training camp plus the first 11 games of the season to do that. Now it's about time that they start establishing themselves at home. Teams play all season to get home court for the playoffs and that means a lot more if the team has a genuine advantage when they play at home. The Celtics need to make that statement. Boston should never be a friendly place for teams to play. The Celtics need to establish that, starting with the Spurs, and then keeping it up when they face the Thunder, Bucks and Blazers. And if all else fails, they can always turn off the hot water in the visitor's locker room.