Garden fan capacity will be increased to 25% on May 10, but for now, 12% — or roughly 2,800 spectators — is there to support their team.
And that 12% made themselves heard Friday night. They booed their underperforming team off the floor at halftime, and as the Celtics scrambled to come back from a 32-point deficit, they continued to vent displeasure with the product on the floor — at least until their team underwent one of its infamous personality shifts.
“I told our players that in all my time here, I’ve never heard us booed when we didn’t deserve it,” said Brad Stevens.
The Celtics came back from that 32-point hole for a 143-140 overtime win over San Antonio, and this time they walked off the floor to a roaring, standing crowd.
Jayson Tatum tied Larry Bird’s franchise scoring record with a 60-point, 20-for-37 performance, marking the second time this month he’s soared over 50, also including his 53-point performance against Minnesota on April 9.
“Well if he would have made the shot at the end of regulation, he wouldn’t have tied Bird’s record,” joked Stevens. “So maybe that was all a big part of his plan. I’m kidding on that, obviously. He had a great look and made a great play to get open. But he was amazing. We see it all night, thank goodness he was there in the first or else it would have been 30-something to nothing, because I think it was 31 or 33-12 and he had all 12. But yeah, we just need to play better. Jayson was amazing. Jayson just got a shower when he walked in the locker room from everybody, and it was a special moment to watch. So as flustered as I sound with our performance in some ways, I’m also appreciative of the way these guys stay together and the way they celebrate each other and maybe a glimpse into what we can do. We’ll see.”
Jaylen Brown’s corner 3 with 16.7 seconds left in overtime proved to be the game-winner — Tatum finished the night off with three straight free throws — and in another key crunch-time performance, rookie Aaron Nesmith came up big off the bench with 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting and a bushel of hustle plays.
The Celtics drew first blood in overtime on a Nesmith put-back, but was answered by DeMar DeRozan from 20 feet.
Tatum missed from in front of the Celtics bench, but when Brown lost the ball the next time town, DeRozan gave San Antonio the lead when his shot was goaltended by Rob Williams.
Tatum tied the score with 1:49 left with two free throws. DeRozan missed from the lane, and Tatum drove for a 134-132 lead.
But DeRozan, fouled by Marcus Smart while banking a 10-footer, gave San Antonio the lead with a three-point play.
Tatum took the lead back with an 18-foot fadeaway, Lonnie Walker did the same for the Spurs on an up-top jumper for a 137-136 lead, and the Celtics called timeout with 31.5 seconds left.
Rob Williams was fouled at the rim off an inbounds lob with 31.2 seconds left, though the call was overturned upon video review. But Williams beat Jakob Poeltl to the subsequent jump ball, and with 16.7 seconds left, Brown — 4-for-23 to this point — buried a left corner 3-pointer for a 139-137 lead.
Nesmith stole Rudy Gay’s attempted inbounds lob with 11.3 seconds left and Tatum, fouled, hit twice for a 141-137 edge.
Patty Mills broke free and drained a 3-pointer with 4.9 seconds left that cut the Celtics lead to a point. Tatum was fouled again, this time at the rim (his continuation was disallowed) and hit twice for a three-point win.
Tatum’s 3-pointer with 37 seconds left gave the Celtics their first lead of the night at 127-126. The Celtics won a scramble for a loose ball — video review gave them the ball with 26.7 seconds left — and with 18.8 seconds left, Tatum was fouled.
This time with the crowd chanting M-V-P, Tatum missed his first attempt and hit the second for a two-point lead.
Though Smart appeared to get a DeRozan drive cleanly, the call went the other way, and with 10.8 seconds left the Spurs’ star tied the score at 128-128 with two free throws.
But Tatum missed a 15-foot turnaround at the buzzer.