Rondo, C's Eye February as Critical Month

WALTHAM, Mass. – Next month is a light one for the Boston Celtics when it comes to their schedule.

That hasn’t prevented the C’s from putting a heavy emphasis on February as a means to righting their ship. Boston is eying next month as its opportunity to crawl right back into the playoff race.

Celtics pregame huddle

Now healthy, the Celtics plan to use February as their springboard toward a playoff push.
Steve Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images

“We only play 11 games, I think, this month of February… A lot of winnable games,” Rajon Rondo said following Friday’s practice. “I don’t think we can use the excuse of beating ourselves anymore. We have to come out and execute and try to get some wins. We’re not too far out of the playoffs, and we’ll keep hope alive.”

The Celtics have a great opportunity to jump back into the playoff hunt as they head into February’s All-Star break. They have six games remaining on their schedule prior to the break. As Rondo alluded to, four of those games will be played against teams that are currently below the .500 mark. This is Boston’s opportunity to build momentum heading into the final two months of the season.

“It’s really important,” Avery Bradley said of his team’s stretch before the All-Star break. “We still feel like we have a chance. I think we’re, what, [5.5] games out of the playoffs right now?

“Our main focus is just to continue to build every single game. Work on things that we need to work on in practice and have it translate to the game.”

And eventually make the playoffs? That’s certainly what the Celtics are thinking.

Those on the outside may question that notion, and rightfully so. Boston dropped 15 of its 17 games in January while struggling at both ends of the court. January, however, will soon be in the rearview mirror and the Celtics have reason to believe.

“As far as the last month goes, it’s in the books, and so you move forward and try to get better,” said Brad Stevens. “We have 11 games this month, and starting Sunday you hope that, as we continue to get healthy, that we can play our best.”

Stevens also went on to point out that Boston’s roster hasn’t exactly been stable of late. The C’s made two trades in January, they lost Jerryd Bayless and Avery Bradley to injuries, and they brought in Chris Johnson and Vander Blue on 10-day contracts.

As of today, all of those obstacles are in the rearview mirror. Rondo is back in the lineup and the team is fully healthy. As long as the Celtics have Gerald Wallace back for Sunday (he is away from the team for personal reasons), they’ll finally have the table set to move forward as a cohesive group. In the words of Stevens, “Hopefully we can continue to be more connected as we spend more time together.”

The more connected a team is, the better it will play. The Celtics are expecting to grow as a group during February and make some noise in the playoff race.