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Monday night, fans attended a Celtics game at TD Garden for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Even though there were only about 2,500 people in attendance – 12 percent of the Garden’s usual 18,624 capacity – it was still an impactful moment for those involved.

“I’d say it was pretty emotional for me to see it because it signals just maybe if we can buckle down and get through this, then we can have something resembling normal back,” Brad Stevens told reporters after the game. “I appreciate all the people that came. I appreciate them being here because for those of us that have coached and played basketball games in front of no one – it’s been fun, it’s been basketball – but it hasn’t felt normal or right. So tonight it felt a little more normal and right.”

For their part, the Celtics faithful didn’t seem to show any rust. They made themselves heard during key stretches of the game, such as Boston’s 13-0 run in the final minute that nearly completed a 17-point comeback.

However, it was the low points in the game that they really made things feel familiar. That included booing after foul calls against the Celtics, and even a “refs you suck” chant late in the third quarter.

“I could feel the energy in the building from beginning to end,” Jayson Tatum said after the game. “It was a totally different experience compared to not having them, even though it’s limited. That was something good to take away from tonight. The fans were incredible. It felt like it was a full house tonight with their energy.”

“That’s been the best that I’ve heard thus far, to be honest,” Kemba Walker added. “A lot of our road trip teams had fans, and I thought our fans, they were loud, they were into the game, it was fun. They made it fun. It was really exciting to have those guys in the stands.”

The team will continue to get a boost from the fans in the immediate future, as Monday night was the first game in a seven-game homestand. Boston has been a much better team at home (13-8) than on the road (10-16) this season, meaning this stretch is a real chance for them to gain some ground in the highly competitive Eastern Conference. With games against the Hornets, Knicks, and Sixers on the docket, this is as big a two-week stretch as they’ve had so far this season.

The Celtics – and their fans – return to TD Garden Wednesday night for a meeting with the Dallas Mavericks. You can catch the call of that one on 98.5 The Sports Hub, with pregame coverage beginning at 7:00 p.m..

Click here for 98.5 The Sports Hub’s complete coverage of the Celtics.

Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at