BOSTON – When the season began, the Boston Celtics had a pretty simple goal: build off of last season’s brief playoff appearance.
The way Boston has been playing at home can only help their cause, especially as they prepare to host the Houston Rockets in what they hope will end with a 15th straight win at the TD Garden.
At 14 straight home wins, the Celtics haven’t had this kind of success in more than 25 years.
Yes, for all that the Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen achieved in Boston which included bringing home Banner 17, they were never this dominant at the TD Garden.
“We take a lot of pride in it,” Boston’s Jae Crowder on the team’s recent run of success at home.
Their success is unprecedented having now won more consecutive home games at the TD Garden than any previous Celtics club.
“We didn’t know if it was a record broke for the most wins in that building until last night,” Crowder said. “We take pride in it and we want to keep it going as much as possible. We know we control our own destiny if we win out on our home court.”
And that control means a lot, especially in the Eastern Conference which remains a tightly contested field.
But Boston’s recent run of success at home is starting to separate them from the pack of playoff contenders.
Cleveland and Toronto remain the best teams in the East, but the Celtics are looking more and more like a solid No. 3 seed with a 1 ½ game lead over Miami.
Celtics players are well aware of their standing the East, but it’s not something they spend a lot of time thinking about.
“I don’t think we look at ourselves as the third seed,” said Boston’s Evan Turner. “I don’t think we look at ourselves as better than anybody. We’re not satisfied.”
And while the perception of the Celtics by others may be slightly different now, players reiterate that the team’s success hasn’t changed their goals for this season one bit.
“We always had the same goal,” Crowder said. “We came into the season with the same goal. This (success) gets us a step closer to where we want to be, and that’s win a series and build from last year.”
Boston closed out last season playing well enough to emerge from a potential bottom-five finish in the East, to rallying for the seventh-seed in the playoffs.
The Celtics faced the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round, a series that ended with a Cavs sweep.
Boston doesn’t envision that happening again regardless of who they face in the playoffs, in large part because of the team’s growth when it comes to playing in front of their own fans at the Garden.
“We don’t talk a ton about it,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, referring to the team’s run of success at home. “I don’t know if I got a great explanation for it. Sometimes we play 14 great games in a row at home but you don’t win them all because breaks don’t go your way. But you have to give yourselves a chance.”