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Irish Coffee: The Celtics’ homecourt advantage

12.09.10 at 11:24 am ET
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Wake up with the Celtics and your daily dose of Irish Coffee …

Asked, simply, if the Celtics enjoy a true homecourt advantage in Boston, Ray Allen responded, even more simply, “Always.”

Which is why last season’s 24-17 home record is all the more puzzling. After Wednesday’s victory against the Nuggets, the Celtics are 10-1 in the Garden. Their best 11-game stretch last year was 8-3 (also to start the season). Whatever the reason, the Celtics have regained the homecourt advantage they enjoyed when they finished 35-6 in 2007-08 and 2008-09.

“I think we do [have an advantage], just because our fans are the best in the world,” Nate Robinson said. “Other teams know when they’re coming here, they’re going to get the best of our fans every time they come.”

In theory, or at least in my theory, the Celtics benefit from fan support in the first quarter (when fans are fired up for the tip) and second half (when the game is more interesting — and important). A second-quarter letdown is understandble, considering the Celtics, their fans and opponents are getting comfortable at that point.

The stats certainly support that theory. Take a look at the team’s plus/minus in each quarter this season:

HOME: +54 (Q1), -2 (Q2), +30 (Q3), +18 (Q4)
ROAD: +51 (Q1), +44 (Q2), +12 (Q3), -8 (Q4)

Analyzing these numbers, three things stand out as interesting:

1) The Celtics are dominating opponents in the first quarter this season (home and away). Perhaps, rather than starting the season strong and coasting the rest of the way — as they did last season — the Celtics are hoping to start games strong and coast the rest of the way, limiting their meaningful minutes over the course of the season while still piling up wins.

2) That second-quarter home deficit is strange, considering the Celtics’ success in the second quarter on the road. Could the bench be more comfortable away from Boston?

3) The C’s get the biggest homecourt boost in the fourth quarter. They’ve been outscored at home in the fourth quarter four times. Twice (vs. Toronto and Chicago), they had double-digit leads entering the final quarter and coasted. In the other two games (vs. the Knicks and Blazers), they built double-digit leads and coasted.

“It’s just a way of life here,” said Robinson of the fans. “They love anything to do with Boston. It’s fun to watch. It gives us more energy. It helps us pull through when we’re not getting stops. When we’re not scoring, our fans are going to be there to support us and carry the load for us. … They help us win all these games, and hopefully they continue to do that.”

It’s a shame the C’s had that letdown against the Thunder, playing without Kevin Durant, or else they’d be boasting an 11-0 home record right now. And then we could start talking about whether or not they could eclipse the 1985-86 Celtics’ NBA best 40-1 home record. Then again, that group also lost at home in its first 10 games, to a sub-.500 Blazers team.

Boston Celtics backup point guard Nate Robinson, left, is congratulated by starting point guard Rajon Rondo, right, and forward Kevin Garnett, rear, after the Celtics beat the Orlando Magic 96-84 in Game 6 of the NBA Eastern Conference basketball finals in Boston, Friday, May 28, 2010.

Nate Robinson (left) and Rajon Rondo are both playing through pain in their feet. (AP)

NATE ROBINSON ON RAJON RONDO

Rajon Rondo is hurting, and Robinson can empathize, because he’s hurting, too.

“There’s something about our guards and our feet,” said Robinson. “I don’t know. I know they’re killing me, though. You’ve got to play through the pain. We’re all warriors, and you’ve got to go out there and play through just about anything. If you love the game enough, you’ll get out there. Rondo — his hamstring, his feet — and he’s out there giving 110 percent and going 110 miles an hour, and he’s doing a great job at it.”

While Rondo brushed off any questions about his sore feet and hamstring, Robinson explained what the two of them are capable of doing on a nightly basis, despite the pain.

“When your feet hurt, you can go full speed running, but then when you stop and go, that’s wear and tear,” he added. “But you’ve got to play through it. It’s painful, but I’d rather go through that and win. Instead of babying it, you’ve got go for it and let it hurt after the game, and then let it heal with ice.”

Marquis Daniels said he’d be treating his injury — a jammed right thumb — similarly: “I’ll just put some ice and some Mr. Miyagi stuff on it, and I’ll be fine.”

RAY ALLEN FLYING UNDER THE RADAR

As Rondo chases the NBA’s single-season assist record, Paul Pierce eclipses the 20,000-point mark, Kevin Garnett continues his revenge tour and Shaquille O’Neal is, well, Shaquille O’Neal, Allen has produced his best shooting season since coming to Boston.

His field goal percentage (48.1) is the best of his career, and his 3-point percentage (42.6) is his best since shooting 43.4 percent from beyond the arc during the 2001-02 season.

“It’s always about being the odds,” said Allen. “You know the percentages of guys and what they’ve done over the history of their careers, but I don’t have to be that stat. I don’t have to be that guy. My focus is trying to help this team win. … I still believe I can do this like it was my second year in the league, and I’m one of the best at it.”

So, with all the talk about Garnett returning to form, why aren’t people talking more about Ray Allen’s resurgence?

“I just always believe that people expect it from me,” added Allen. “A long time ago, I don’t know who it was, but somebody told me to act like I’ve done it before, and I feel like I’ve done this many times. I believe my credit is what I get paid. I come out here and do my job every night, and hopefully everybody follows suit.”

(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)

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