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Celtics fans turn back clock with 'Let's go Celtics' send-off

When generations collide.
When generations collide.

The Celtics are down 20 points.

The Garden crowd has dwindled some. Yellow seats - a yellow that only a Bruins fan could love - are scattered throughout now.

The towel has been thrown in. Boston's lineup consists of Ryan Hollins, Sean Williams, Marquis Daniels, Sasha Pavlovic, and E'Twaun Moore.

No more JumboTron promotions, T-shirt tosses, Celtics dancers - nothing. All that remains is a really lopsided game, an unwatchable, get-this-thing-over-with final few minutes of basketball.

As starters Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen all watch from the bench - nowhere to go, nowhere to hide - one can't help but think, "Is this how it's going to end in Boston?"

Is this the final act?

Not if Celtics fans have anything to do with it.

If you never had the chance to watch a game in the "original" Boston Garden, you've undoubtedly heard stories. Stories that make you wish you could go back in time and feel what it was like to be a part of it all.

After Thursday's blowout loss - a 98-79 thumping at the hands of the NBA's most hated team - time came back to us in the form of that same "Celtic pride".

"Let's go Cel-tics." The chant starts softly, coming from the balcony seats.

"Did you hear our crowd the last three minutes of the game?" Doc Rivers asked after. "What other crowd in the NBA does that? It's a terrific place to play. The fans were unbelievable."

"Let's go Cel-tics." ... As it grows louder, the banging of the yellow seats are now being used to clap.

"Kevin [Garnett] was sitting next to me," Allen explained to the media, "and I said these are ‑‑ I know I'm biased, but they're the best fans I've ever played in front of or ever seen in my life. They understand the situation that is before us, and we understand it. And that was basically them sending us off, letting us know, 'Hey, this is still well and alive. We need you guys to go down there and get a win for us.'

"We all felt it on the bench. I know the game was going on. It seemed like that three minutes lasted forever. It was special. I'll talk about that forever, just knowing being down 20 and these people are still standing up, cheering us on, because they know we just have to win one game."

It's a moment that will be remembered forever - talked about by this generation of fans to the next. It's a story that the new Garden - the Jungle - now owns.

"Let's go Cel-tics." We're minutes in now, everyone joins in.

"A lot of them stayed, and the chant was unbelievable," Rajon Rondo said. "It was a crazy feeling when you're down 20."

The product certainly isn't up to par with what the original Garden was used to, but for these last minutes, it isn't about the gimmicks that go along with a 2012 NBA game. No "thunder sticks" needed. No noise meter. This is old school in a new-school era.

This is "Beat L.A." at its origin. This is "see you next week - same time, same place".

"Let's go Cel-tics." ... As Moore hits a jumper, Celtics now down 18. Moore had subbed in for Keyon Dooling at the 3:11 mark.

"Well their fans aren't Boston Celtics fans," Dooling tells reporters when asked how to take Miami's home-court advantage away. "We have to keep them out of transition. When they get dunks, when they get spectacular plays their crowd is a beast. But, you know, down 20 points when the game's over they won't be saying, ‘Let's go Heat.'"

"Let's go Cel-tics." ... As Marquis Daniels answers Juwan Howard's free throws with a dunk of his own.

"It's them letting us know that we have their support and we're looking to come back home and keep hearing from them," Daniels said after.

"It sends chills," Hollins added. "It makes you really feel what this all is about, just being a Celtic. It's amazing. We feel our fans even on the road. Their presence is felt so much. Not just Boston fans here in Boston, but just across the country."

There's a Game 7 to be played. Boston's gritty blue-collar bunch against South Beach's hottest act - no holds barred. One more chance to put the Heat away for good, advance to the NBA Finals, and somehow, some way, write the final chapter in a storybook season for the ages.

Consider Thursday night more than just a footnote.

"I want to say to all the fans, thank you guys," Garnett told reporters. "I've never in my life experienced anything like this - in any sport. I'm just truly blessed to be a Celtic and be a part of the city of Boston. That's what's up to all the New Englanders around here. It's [expletive] crazy."

It is [expletive] crazy.

"Let's go Cel-tics."

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