After Regular-Season Finale, It's Full-Steam Ahead for Celtics
WASHINGTON, D.C. – “Full-steam ahead.”
That’s how the Celtics are headed toward the NBA Playoffs, declared Brad Stevens, following Boston’s 116-110 victory Tuesday night over the Washington Wizards.
With their regular-season finale now in the books, the Celtics can officially turn their full attention toward their upcoming first-round playoff series against the Indiana Pacers, which will begin this weekend at TD Garden. They can do so with their stars seemingly aligned, thanks to a wildly successful Tuesday night.
Not only did the Celtics storm back from a 21-point, first-half deficit to grab a win in Washington, but they also did so while the high majority of their top players soaked in a little extra R&R. Aron Baynes, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, Kyrie Irving, Marcus Morris, Marcus Smart and Jayson Tatum, who were all dinged up to some extent, stayed back in Boston to allow their bodies and minds to recover.
Still, the Celtics managed to upend the Wizards after falling behind early on by a large margin. Their comeback, capped by clutch play at both ends during the fourth quarter, served as a significant preparation tool for Boston’s reserves.
“I think it’s beneficial for a lot of things,” Stevens said of the victory, “but certainly to go on the road and have to get stops, or step up to the line, or step up and knock down an open shot, those are things that you only get from playing in games.”
Meanwhile, the top dogs back in Boston were preparing themselves in different ways: mentally and physically.
The two additional rest and treatment days – one on Monday with no travel, and the second on Tuesday with no game – are greatly beneficial to Boston’s stars. Baynes has been nicked up all season long. Horford has been nursing a sore left knee throughout the campaign. Irving carried a heavy load while appearing in 67 games. Morris, Smart and Tatum have all missed time due to injuries within the last week.
Those players can now feel good about where their bodies and their minds are when they take the court for Wednesday afternoon’s first practice session in preparation of this weekend’s series opener at TD Garden.
“Starting tomorrow we’ve got practice, and we’re gonna get after it,” said Terry Rozier, who scored 21 points in 25 minutes of action Tuesday night. “Guys back at home resting and taking care of their bodies, getting their mind right, so I know it’s going to be fun and I’m ready for it.”
Rozier is anxious to get the postseason underway to see what his team can accomplish. He indicated that he has big plans in mind for the Celtics – ones that would greatly surpass expectations that are typically attached to a 49-win team.
“I feel as a team, as a whole, we’re going to have a great playoff push,” he said. “I feel like we’re more connected, we’re more together than we was at the beginning of the season. There’s a lot of things that we corrected. I feel like that’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Just as Tuesday night was.
Without the services of seven of their top nine players, the Celtics still closed out their regular season on a high note while building positive vibes for the crew that was on site for the win. Meanwhile, back in Boston, the rest of the group worked their minds and their bodies shape in preparation for what is set to begin Wednesday afternoon on the practice court.
It’s now full-steam ahead toward the Playoffs for the Boston Celtics – and they intend on making some noise when they get there.