While watching the Celtics go 11-0 at TD Banknorth Garden after beating the Sacramento Kings Wednesday night, ex-Celtics coach and guard K.C. Jones couldn't help but reminisce about those good old days when his teams always won a lot of home games at the old Boston Garden.
"I was in there [Wednesday] night, it was just beautiful basketball," Jones said. "We had about five or six people in the audience before the trade. And now people are breaking down the door to get in. I remember the good old days with the Larry [Bird] and Bill Russell teams and it's back."
The Celtics could match a franchise-best 12-0 home start with a victory over the Milwaukee Bucks tonight. Jones, 75, coached the current record-holders, the 1983-84 Celtics, who won their first 12 home games. He also was a member of two Celtics teams in the 1960s that started 11-0 at home before going on to win NBA titles.
"You have to dominate on the home court," said Jones, who was elected into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1989. "If any team comes in and beats you, another team will come to beat you again. The important thing is you have to protect home court."
Jones's 1983-84 team starred Bird, Robert Parish, and Kevin McHale. After the hot home start, the Celtics finished tied for the league's best home record with a 33-8 mark and an overall regular-season record of 62-20.
Jones said one of the keys to their success was "togetherness."
As a coach, Jones didn't talk about the importance of winning at home because he thought his veteran players understood it and showed that by their intense play.
"Larry Bird, McHale, Dennis Johnson, and Robert Parish, all those guys had the same kind of things that we had when I played and that was togetherness," said Jones, who won two NBA titles in four Finals appearances as Celtics coach. "Robert Parish was blocking shots and running down on the fast break; Larry Bird would dive for a loose ball to save it before it crossed halfcourt for a violation when we were up by 20 points and there was 20 seconds left in the first half. That kind of togetherness and effort is what made the team play so well."
Jones won 522 games in 10 NBA seasons as a coach, five with the Celtics. But current coach Doc Rivers believes Jones does not get his due because of the talent he had around him.
"He's been phenomenal," Rivers said. "I think he's been one of the more underappreciated coaches that ever coached. He had a lot of talent and he got the talent to play together and win. I don't think he got the credit for what he did. It's too bad, in my opinion. He's got one of the better records, not only as a player but also as a coach. He's not as appreciated as he should be."
During the 1963-64 season, Jones was a guard on a Celtics team that started 11-0 at home. He was third in the NBA in assists (5.1) and started with the likes of Bill Russell, John Havlicek, and Tom Heinsohn. The team finished 59-21 en route to an NBA title. Jones, who played nine years with the Celtics, averaged 7.4 points and 4.3 assists.
Jones, who won eight NBA titles as a player, was a member of the championship team in 1965-66, which also started 11-0. Once again, he was third in the league in assists (6.3), roaming with the likes of Sam Jones, Russell, and Havlicek.
Jones sees a lot of his old teams in today's version of the Celtics.
"Getting [Kevin] Garnett in there along with Ray [Allen] in the trade got the process started and [Paul] Pierce was kind of lonely, he was the major scorer in there. Now it looks like he looks better out there because he is playing defense and passing the ball and making an effort on the defensive end. That's what helped the Celtics in the beginning.
"They only lost two games and what KG and Ray brings is hustle and effort and they have the respect of all of their teammates."