Celtics Seek to Take Advantage of Long Layoff Between Rounds
BOSTON – The Boston Celtics had less than 48 hours to transition between Rounds 1 and 2 last postseason. This time around, they will have roughly 150 hours to prepare for their second-round playoff opponent.
The C’s dispatched their first-round foe, the Indiana Pacers, Sunday afternoon via a four-game sweep, leaving them with plenty of time to rest up and study their next challenger in the Milwaukee Bucks, who also just completed a first-round sweep of the Detroit Pistons.
It was quite a different story for the Celtics last postseason, when they went the distance in a seven-game, first-round series against the Bucks, forcing the team to cram-study for its second-round matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers, which began two days later.
While it’s nice to have knowledge of its opponent early on, Boston is in a unique position in that it has no idea when it’s actually going to play its next game. Regardless of the uncertainty that aspect brings, the group will embrace the long layoff that will likely last until at least Saturday or Sunday, while continuing to prep for the top-ranked team in the NBA.
“Today was light,” C’s coach Brad Stevens said of Tuesday afternoon’s brief practice session in Brighton, where it hit the court for the first time since Sunday’s series-clinching effort. “Today was just an introduction to Milwaukee and some of the things we’d like to do, but nothing live, nothing competitive. Tomorrow will be a little more up and down and those type of things.”
It's a change of pace to take a step back after playing in four competitive playoff contests, but the Celtics will do whatever they can to make sure they don’t lose their edge over the course of this quiet week.
Gordon Hayward says the key to doing so is “making sure when we come in as a team that we get good work in and, individually, you have to continue to stay focused with your same routine as you’ve been doing.
“For me,” the veteran forward continued, “it’s not changing anything up; keeping up with the day-to-day basketball activities that I get in – the lifts, the rehab exercises, all that. It’s just a little bit more time without a game, but the other stuff you can keep doing.”
It could be argued that having so many days off in between series could be detrimental to a team’s energy. Stevens, however, is not concerned about that aspect at all.
“I don’t know when we’re playing,’ the coach reiterated, “but I’m not worried about rest.”
Rest is something that is cherished this late in the season, especially for a team like the Celtics who are trying to work a key player in Marcus Smart back from injury. The other players also could use a break to rest their nicks and bruises before taking on a physical Bucks team.
“This week is really important,” Al Horford firmly stated. “Continue to get healthy, get some good practice in, and for our group this time off is beneficial. We had a good practice today, we’ll have another tomorrow, and continue to get better, get more familiar with Milwaukee.”