By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
The Wells Fargo Center was empty for Tuesday’s preseason head-to-head between the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics. It’ll be the first of many empty-arena games in the NBA this year as the league aims to start the 2020-21 season through a pandemic.
But the arena did their best to make the Celtics feel the love like only Philly can, and their attempts were not lost on Celtics head coach Brad Stevens following his team’s 108-99 defeat.
“Even [with] the piped in noise, I appreciate Philly,” Stevens said after the loss. “When they announced our starting lineup they did the ‘you suck’ chant anyways. I thought that made it feel a little bit more like Philly. I missed all those people behind me wishing me happy holidays in their own special way.”
(In case you’re unaware, Sixer fans chant ‘sucks!’ after every player is announced in the road team’s starting lineup. And given the feud with these teams, it’s especially loud when the C’s come to town.)
Stevens did find the actual value in this, too, as playing in an empty 20,000-person venue is more of a shock to the system than playing in a gym-turned-mini-arena like they did inside the Orlando bubble.
“It was great to play in front of no fans and get used to what’s that like in these big arenas,” said Stevens. “It’s a much different feeling than it was in the bubble when you were in a much smaller venue.”
Stevens & Co. will get a chance to see how an empty TD Garden feels like home when the Celtics wrap up their preseason slate against the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night.