Jeremy Lin is no stranger to the Boston scene.
A standout player at Harvard, Lin had a solid cult following during his senior year there and in his first year in the NBA with the Golden State Warriors.
But this? Not even Lin himself ever imagined anything close. So when the Knicks invaded the Garden on Sunday afternoon, the Lin supporters in the building had grown exponentially.
Fans lined up along the tunnel entrances while Lin took pregame shots. As he made his way back to the locker room, some lucky ones got autographs. Two of those them were John and Adriana Kouloris, avid Celtics fans from Stoneham, Mass.
“We have Celtics season tickets, so we watch NBA basketball all the time,” John said. “Are we Knicks fans? No, we can’t say that. We support Jeremy Lin because he played at Harvard.”
It’s pretty easy to support a guy like Lin, someone whose story is obviously unique.
“It’s like the Tim Tebow story,” John said, “but I think it’s a little bit better than Tim Tebow because Tim Tebow actually won a championship in college and he was more known, whereas Jeremy Lin didn’t have that. He came from a small — well obviously Harvard’s a big college, but basketballwise it’s not as big, you know?”
Rajon Rondo (triple double — 18 points, 17 rebounds, 20 assists) was warming up on the other end of the court, but you certainly couldn’t tell. The focus was on Lin, who finished the game with 14 points, four rebounds, and five assists.
Telly Lee, a Lin fan since his Harvard days, was taking pictures while sporting a Lin jersey from Lin’s time in Golden State.
“I heard about a couple huge games against UConn (college career high 30 points), against BC,” Lee said. “Just been completely enthralled; I was amazed.
“You know that he had the skill for [NBA stardom], but the environment wasn’t always there … I think this is history in the making right here.”
3 things we learned
1. Big 2 step up
Two players really stepped up for the Celtics on Sunday: Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce. First, take a look at Rondo’s stat line: 18 points, 17 rebounds, 20 assists.
“Trade him! Trade him!” Really? Before you run somebody like Rondo out of town, really take a look at all he has to offer. Pierce, though, was at his best Sunday. His 3-pointer to send it into overtime was just one of 13 made shots (34 points) on Sunday.
2. Turnovers at a minimum
Often times the Celtics shoot themselves in the foot by turning the ball over way too many times. To make matters worse, they play at a slow pace, which makes possessions that much more important. But over the last couple of games the Celtics have protected the ball much better.
3. Big win
This was a big, big game for the Celtics, who are already thinking about playoff seeding. The win gives them a 2-1 series lead over the Knicks with one more game to play. Both teams should rank close to each other in the playoff seeding, so any tie-breaking advantage is big. “I felt like it’s an important game, and we said that,” Doc Rivers said. “This is a team that’s trying to move in front of you, behind you, playoff position – you just never know. The biggest thing is they’re getting confidence, and we didn’t want that to grow against us. I thought that was very important.”