Pregame Post-Ups: Bringing Baseball to Basketball

Sunday, April 21 - Celtics at Pacers - Game 4

Pregame – Utilizing a Small-Ball, Baseball Mindset

INDIANAPOLIS – If you weren’t a sports fan and watched only Brad Stevens’ postseason press conferences this year, you might think the Boston Celtics were a baseball team.

His hottest metaphor during these NBA Playoffs? “Hit singles.”

The “hit singles” count rose another three times during the six-plus minutes that Stevens met with the media prior to Sunday afternoon’s Game 4 in Indianapolis. One of those instances gave extra insight as to what he actually means when he speaks the metaphor to the media and, more importantly, to his players.

“You hope you get to this time of the year, and whether good things happen or bad things happen, you move on to what’s next and hit a single,” he said ahead of Game 4. “That’s easier said than done, but that’s what we’re really trying to hammer on: stay in the moment, hitting singles, whatever happened last doesn’t matter.”

Now, since most of you are sports fans, you have an idea of what a single is in baseball. It’s a hit that leads to the batter reaching first base. Sometimes in baseball, five singles will lead to multiple runs.

To the contrary, if all of that team’s players swing for home runs – which are far more difficult to hit – a team could end up scoring no runs.

That’s what Stevens is alluding to. He wants his players to make the easy play, over and over. Make the right pass. Take the right shot. Don’t try to anything that’s overly difficult, because those are the plays that have a far worse success rate.

Doing so has been the primary goal during Boston’s first three wins of this series, and it will remain the team’s primary goal during this afternoon’s Game 4.

“Our focus is to compete at the level we need to compete at, and hit singles, and try to just do it one possession at a time knowing that it’s going to be really difficult,” Stevens said.

This isn’t baseball, but Stevens wants his Celtics to utilize a small-ball, baseball mindset on the court. It has worked so far. There’s no reason to believe it won’t work again this afternoon.

- Marc D'Amico

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