Game Links: Bucks 96, Celtics 102

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Pregame – Finally, the Return to the Garden

Well we’re finally back at the Garden.

It feels like we’ve been gone for months, but it’s really only been two weeks. The Celtics are happy to be back in front of their home crowd, even if it took a while to get back here.

“I got to the apartment last night and I was like, ‘Wow, I haven’t seen this place in a while,’” Doc Rivers said before tonight’s game. “That’s how you felt, and it’s true.”

Why did it feel that way? Well, a lot has happened since the Celtics last played in TD Garden. Boston went through five consecutive losses at one point. It went through an All-Star break. Then it nearly blew a 16-point loss last night in Cleveland. That’s enough to make weeks feel like months for anyone, but especially for a team that’s currently fighting for a playoff spot.

The C’s are essentially tied with the Knicks for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference and will be looking to climb far above that position by the end of the season. In order to do so, they’ll need to clean up some mistakes that have plagued them for the entire season.

The biggest issue of all might be taking care of the ball. Boston committed 18 turnovers last night in Cleveland, and Rivers attributed that to the team trying to complete the “home run” pass far too often. Ray Allen touched on that fact as he spoke to the media in the locker room.

“For us, you might have one home run play out of 10,” said Allen, “and you just have to know that we have to take care of the ball and make the simple play, the simple pass 90 percent of the time.”

Rivers was happy to hear that Allen preached that fact tonight, because that’s what the coach has been preaching to his players for months.

“Yeah, he’s repeating me,” joked Rivers.

In all seriousness, though, Rivers is correct, and it’s great to hear that his players are listening. But as he noted, he doesn’t only want his players to listen. He wants them to execute those thoughts on the floor.

- Marc D'Amico