BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Celtics are back under the Christmas Day spotlight (or should we say, mistletoe?) this season, and for the first time ever, they’ll be spending the holiday at home.
The Celtics will host their first Christmas Day game in franchise history when they welcome the Washington Wizards to TD Garden on Monday. All of Boston’s other Christmas Day appearances were either on the road or at neutral sites.
It’s fitting that the NBA is having two teams that really don’t like each other on play on Christmas Day, with some ill will still lingering from last seasons Eastern Conference semis despite all the roster turnover Boston went through in the offseason. While the Celtics find themselves atop the East at 27-9, the Wizards have struggled their way to a 18-15 start to the season.
This will be the 31st time the Celtics are featured on the NBA’s marquee day, so they have a lengthy history of waking up, opening presents and then hitting the floor. Here’s a look back on some of the more interesting tidbits from the Celtics taking the hardwood on Christmas Day.
– Rumor has it that Celtics patriarch Red Auberbach did not want Boston to host a game on Christmas Day because he did not want to make the team staff have to work a home game on the holiday.
This year, TD Garden workers will receive a special shirt for working on Christmas Day:
– The Celtics are 14-16 in their Christmas Day games.
– The C’s made their Christmas Day debut back in 1948, losing to the Philadelphia Warriors 80-77 in Philly. Gene Stump led Boston in scoring that day with 20 points.
– The Celtics were featured in the NBA’s Christmas Day lineup for 12 straight years from 1948 to 1960, losing their first six games. They went 4-8 during that stretch.
– Boston won its first Christmas Day game in 1954, when Bob Cousy led the way with 35 points in a 108-99 victory over Milwaukee.
– Tommy Heinsohn dropped 45 points on Christmas Day in a 127-122 win over the Syracuse Nationals in 1961.
– The most points the Celtics have scored on Christmas Day was back in 1967, beating the Knicks 134-124. Sam Jones led the way for Boston with 27 points, while John Havliceck scored 21.
– Boston’s worst loss on Christmas Day came in 2002, when they fell to the New Jersey Nets 117-81.
– The 27-2 Celtics met the L.A. Lakers for an NBA Finals rematch on Christmas Day in 2008 (their first Christmas Day game since 2002), losing 92-83. Kobe Bryant scored 27 points and Pau Gasol scored seven of his 20 points in the final three minutes as the Lakers snapped the defending champs 19-game winning streak — a franchise record.
– “National TV Rondo” put on a show in 2011, scoring 31 points to go with 13 assists as the C’s opened the strike-shortened season against the Knicks. It wasn’t enough though, as the Celtics were without Paul Pierce and fell 106-104.
– Rondo was sporting some sweet Christmas kicks against the Nets as he led Boston to a 93-76 win over the Brooklyn Nets in 2012. He 19 points, five assists, six rebounds and a sweet pair of Christmas kicks.
– After a few years off, the C’s returned to the Christmas Day slate last season as Isaiah Thomas and company paid a visit to the New York Knicks. Thomas scored a team-high 27 points as Boston withstood a 29-point game from Carmelo Anthony and a 22-12 performance from Kristaps Porzingis on their way to a 119-114 victory. The game was tied 112-112 in the final minute, but Marcus Smart hit a clutch three and Boston hit their free throws down the stretch to get the Christmas Day win.
– Kyrie Irving said earlier this week that he doesn’t consider Christmas Day a holiday, and that’s probably because he’s been in the office for the last three of them. Irving played on Christmas Day in each of the last three seasons as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, going 1-2 (road losses to the Heat and Warriors and a home win over the Warriors last season) while averaging 21 points off 41 percent shooting.