After earning the No. 4 seed in the East and quickly dispatching the Miami Heat in the first round, Boston eliminated LeBron James and the top-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers in the conference semis. Against second-seeded Orlando, the Celtics have twice opened big leads and held on to take a 2-0 advantage.
Now they’re back home, where the Celtics are 5-1 so far in the playoffs.
"I think our guys are getting comfortable playing at home again,” Rivers said.
It doesn’t hurt that they’re playing better defense than they did during the long regular season, when the 2008 champions seemed uninterested. Veteran Rasheed Wallace has become a contributor off the bench. Point guard Rajon Rondo is blossoming into a star at both ends. And Kevin Garnett, who missed last year’s playoffs because of a knee injury, seems to be responding to his restful regular season with the strong play that was a key to the team’s 17th NBA title.
To Pierce, that’s a sign that the regular-season struggles at home don’t mean much any more.
"Yesterday already happened and tomorrow’s going to come,” he said. "We’ve turned a lot of things around”
Orlando was one of two teams — Atlanta was the other — to win twice in Boston this year. The Magic also remember coming to town in last year’s playoffs, when they beat Boston twice — including the Celtics’ first-ever loss at home in a seventh game — to advance to the conference finals.