BOSTON — TD Garden was electric last night. The Boston fans were loud and taunted the 76ers, and the sellout crowd, 18,624 fans in all, provided a huge home-court advantage for the Celtics in their 117-101 Game 1 victory in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
However, Joel Embiid wasn’t fazed.
“It was OK,” the Sixers all-star center said of the crowd. “I think our fans are louder than that.”
The Boston fans, treated to green “BEAT PHILA t-shirts, showed they dislike the Sixers just as much as Philly fans dislike the Celtics. The Celtics faithful chanted, “F— the Process” in the fourth quarter, and “Not a rookie” when Sixers rookie Ben Simmons was at the foul line. And they even heckled a few boisterous Sixers fans.
But none of this was surprising. These teams are longtime Atlantic Division rivals.
“It didn’t bother me,” Embiid said of the crowd. “But they were great. They supported their team tonight. It was good.
“I love that type of atmosphere, because it kind of elevates my game knowing that there’s a lot of fans out there that are talking trash and saying crazy stuff, too.”
Embiid finished with game highs of 31 points and 13 rebounds in the loss.
Simmons, who had 18 points, seven rebounds, six assists and seven turnovers, shrugged off the “Not a rookie” chants. He was drafted first overall in 2016, but missed the entire 2016-17 season with a broken foot. Because of that, he retained his rookie status for this season.
“I don’t care,” he said of the chants. “It doesn’t affect me at all.”
The Celtics will host Game 2 at 8:30 p.m. Thursday. Embiid wants the Boston faithful to bring more venom in that game.
“I love when people talk trash,” he said. “Keep bringing it on. We’re going to see how it goes.”