Jordan Crawford’s stint with the Celtics helped revive his NBA career.
“Oh yeah, I miss it, actually,” the guard said Wednesday, when he made his first return to TD Garden since he was traded to the Golden State Warriors in January.
“It was home for a minute.”
From February 2013 until this January, Crawford played in 66 games for the Celtics, averaging 11.8 points, 4.4 assists and 2.9 rebounds over 27 minutes per game.
But this season, he was tasked with filling in at point guard while Rajon Rondo rehabbed his surgically repaired right knee.
Crawford, who received polite applause when he entered the game in the first quarter and ended up with 15 points in Golden State’s 108-88 win, was a pleasant surprise in that role, averaging 13.7 points and a career-best 5.7 assists per game over 30.7 minutes per game in 39 appearances.
“I give him a lot of credit,” said Golden State coach Mark Jackson. “The way he played here put him in position to be on our team. I thought he was doing a great job of not just scoring the basketball, but he made plays.”
Including his draft-night deal, Crawford has been traded four times in four years, but he credited the Celtics, specifically coach Brad Stevens.
“He gave me the chance,” Crawford said. “He put me on display at point guard. I think that’s the biggest thing. I wanted to play point guard when John Wall was out with the Wizards. [Washington] didn’t give me that chance. So for [Stevens] to give me that chance, I couldn’t ask for much more.”
The Celtics were the first team to really show belief in Crawford, he said.
“That’s probably the hardest part of leaving, because it really did feel like home a little bit, even though I was only here for less than a year,” he said.
Crawford was traded to Golden State along with MarShon Brooks in a three-team swap that netted the Celtics draft picks and Joel Anthony from Miami.
“It was a little bit surprising, but it wasn’t, because I actually had a talk with Danny Ainge during preseason, and he said it could be possible,” Crawford said, referencing the Celtics president of basketball operations.
Entering Wednesday night, Crawford was averaging 7.2 points in 16.1 minutes off the bench for Golden State in a role he said is much different than in Boston.
“It’s totally different,” he said. “Now I have a role. It’s like, got to go in, shoot right away, you miss some shots, you coming out. [In Boston], it was just whatever the team needed to win.”
As for his new role with the Warriors, Crawford said, “I’m gonna make it do what it do.”
Stevens said Crawford had a “great first half of the season” with the Celtics and has played well with Golden State, too.
“What Jordan gives you is the ability to score in spurts,” Stevens said. “When he gets going, he is a hard guy to stop.”
When asked for his favorite Celtics memory, Crawford recalled a stretch in early January when the Celtics won three straight games and he was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week after averaging 23.3 points in those games.
Crawford also made a career-high six 3-pointers Dec. 8 during a 114-73 blowout of the New York Knicks, the Celtics’ largest win ever at Madison Square Garden.
“That was a high,” he said. “We were coming off two [wins], then we won in New York and we was staying there for three or four days. I won Player of the Week, everybody was kicking it. It was a great time. I ain’t going to lie.”
Crawford said he still talks to Stevens, who sends him text messages, and he said he still hears from Celtics fans.
“Just to know they still watching, get a text here and there from people that’s in Boston, telling me they miss me — that’s always good,” he said.
Crawford also said Stevens makes the Celtics an attractive free agent destination.
“I think so,” he said. “A couple great free agents that’s going to be out there, I think, would love to come here.”
Would he consider coming back?
“Of course,” he said.
Forward Kelly Olynyk returned to the lineup after missing two games with a sprained big toe. He had 19 points off the bench in 27 minutes . . . Guard Avery Bradley had an MRI on his sprained right ankle but Stevens said he was unaware of the result. Bradley has missed 15 of his last 18 games . . . Stevens said forward Gerald Wallace was back at the Celtics training facility to begin his rehab after surgeries on his left knee and left ankle Tuesday.Baxter Holmes can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.