BOSTON -- Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens knows what it's like to be in the Garden during a playoff game. He visited here during the 2008 playoffs and inconspicuously caught a game during Boston's run to Banner 17. But what resonated with him during his first NBA season on the Boston bench was the support the fans gave his team despite a far less successful season.
"This can’t be the case anywhere else," Stevens said. "I’ve said this all year, the fans are amazing. I told our team today, Phil Pressey dove on that ball the other night [against the Bobcats] and it was like -- I don’t know what late May is like because I’ve never been here, but I was here for maybe an early June Eastern Conference final game -- it felt like that kind of atmosphere and that kind of reaction. For just playing the game the right way.
"I’ve got a great appreciation for the fans in this town and for the people in this town because our atmospheres have been second to none. And to be quite candid, our team has a long way to go. I think the fans have been a terrific part of the year for me."
The Celtics closed out the 2013-14 season in front of a sellout crowd of 18,624. According to ESPN's NBA attendance data, Boston ranked 11th in home attendance this year while filling 97.2 percent of its seats (742,400 total; 18,107 average). What's more, Boston was a quality road draw (15th overall; 90.5 percent of opposing arenas filled) and that helped the team rank 12th in the league in attendance figures (17,796 average fans per game; 93.8 percent of arenas filled over 82 games).
Some postgame quotes of note as the Celtics closed out the 2013-14 campaign:
• GERALD WALLACE on the season: "I think we as a team are a lot better than our record showed. I think a lot of times, we got caught up in not knowing each other, five guys not being on the same page. And it hurt us throughout some games, especially closing out some games, late in ballgames. But we’ll take it and build on it."
• RAJON RONDO on this year's team: "It’s a good group to play with. A lot of young guys, a lot of guys that are still learning the game and want to study and be better. It’s a great group of guys, not a lot of guys that are knuckleheads or want to go against the grain. Everyone listens and wants to continue to work hard.
• DANNY AINGE on Stevens: "I think Brad did a great job this year. I mean he’s a special person and a great coach. The players see it. The players see his work ethic, they see his integrity and they see his intelligence. So I think he earned the respect of the team in a really difficult situation this year and I know he’s going to get better. He’ll be better this year and the year after he’ll be better than he was next year. He’s a sponge and he’s very intelligent with a great work ethic and I couldn’t be happier."