Quick Turnaround as C's Prepare for Sixers
WALTHAM, Mass. - The Celtics may have survived the first round of the NBA Playoffs against a younger, more athletic team, but a day later, they’re still just as banged up as they were when they were trying to eliminate the Atlanta Hawks. Only now, they face the Philadelphia 76ers, a team that played them well in the regular season, and a team that’s younger, more athletic and wants to get out and run.
“We just know how they want to play, and we know how we want to play, and it’s going to be a battle of that. Who can establish the pace?” Celtics Coach Doc Rivers said.
Odds are, the Celtics won’t be able to dictate the pace throughout the entire series. So with that in mind, getting his team healthy is the first order of business. As a result, Friday’s practice was really just a film session preceded by a short media availability.
A day off from practice should help Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Avery Bradley as they continue to cope with injury woes, but the silver lining for the Celtics is that they won’t have to travel, as they host the Sixers at TD Garden Saturday night.
So they’ve got that going for them.
Pierce, who’s been playing despite a strained MCL over the last week or so, admits to being hampered by the ailment, but has a rather matter-of-fact outlook on the situation. When asked if he thought there was a chance he could do further damage to the knee by continuing to play, Pierce delivered the obvious answer.
“You can make any injury worse by playing,” Pierce said, restraining himself from a chuckle.
Ray Allen felt good enough to play in Game 6 Thursday night, but he’s seen little progress in his ankle as he struggles to stay in game shape.
“It’s no better. It’s no better. I got treatment on it. I’ll stay off of it for the rest of the day,” Allen said. “I’ll just see how it feels. I won’t say worse. It’s basically the same (as yesterday).”
The smart money is on Allen playing, but a lot can change between a Friday film session and Saturday night’s main event, Game 1 of the conference semifinals.
On the flip side, the rarely used Ryan Hollins has suddenly become a part of the Celtics main rotation. He took exception to questions the insinuated surprise at the fact that he was able to step into his role and contribute major minutes in Game 5 and Game 6.
“What would I be here for? I’m not a guy to just sit on the bench and not expect to play,” Hollins said. “Every single guy, from JaJuan (Johnson) to Marquis (Daniels), every single one of us is ready to play. Whether you’re out there or not, you’re mentally prepared for the situation.”
They’d better be ready, because they don’t have much time to prepare. Game 1 is right around the corner.