We are usually celebrating the start of the Playoffs as it means players will consistently care about the game and give their full effort every night. However, this year, there's another reason to be excited about the Playoffs - fans are back! As fortune would have it, the vaccine effort has enabled fans to return to arenas in large numbers and bring the atmosphere that's a crucial part of the NBA experience.
Of course, Madison Square Garden grabbed the headlines when 15.000 people started chanting "f**k Trae Young" from the jump ball. New York's been fermenting for a long time - they just got started. In the end, Young had the last laugh with the game-winner and one of the favorite sounds for an NBA player - a completely quiet arena on the road. After the game, Young said he didn't mind it because “at the end of the day, fans can only talk. They can't guard me.“ Still, it doesn't mean all the chanting didn't fuel his performance.
While MSG got most coverage, Doc Rivers won the night with a hilarious quote. The 76ers took care of business in Philly against the Wizards and were backed by 10.000-11.000 fans in The Wells Fargo Center. The game ball went to Tobias Harris, who dropped a cool 37 and seemed unstoppable. But, the fans got the ultimate credit from Doc.
As the games go on, more and more fans will return to the stands. We're looking forward to "republican numbers" in all NBA arenas soon. The game ain't the same without fans.