addByline("Marc D'Amico", "Celtics.com", "Marc_DAmico");
PORTLAND, Ore. – The last five days have felt a bit like a vacation for the Boston Celtics. One game. Two practices. Plenty of free time.
That favorable schedule was not created to take advantage of sunny Los Angeles, where the Celtics resided from Saturday through Wednesday morning. Instead, as Brad Stevens explained Wednesday afternoon in Portland, Ore., it was concocted to prepare Boston for the juggernaut of a schedule it faces over its next four games.
“I think the biggest thing is you have to look at it not necessarily from the context of what’s going on in these three days (Monday through Wednesday), but the whole trip,” Stevens said shortly after the C’s arrived in Portland. “I think it’s been pretty well documented that our travels from tomorrow night on is – I think it’s the longest four games in five days, as far as miles go, in the league.”
The stretch begins Thursday night when the Celtics tip off against the Trail Blazers here in Portland. The C’s will then travel to Denver to take on the Nuggets Friday night, followed by a back-to-back against the Warriors (Oakland) and Jazz (Salt Lake City) on Sunday and Monday, respectively.
During that four-game stretch, Boston’s jet will travel some 2,552 miles, according to webflyer.com, all in fewer than 80 hours. And those miles aren’t the only challenge the Celtics will be facing over the next five days.
“We’re going to change time zones a couple of times,” Stevens said as he began to rattle off a nauseating list of obstacles. “We’re going to play against good teams. We’re going to play against high-energy teams.
“We’re going to have to make sure that we can do everything that we can to have the right amount of legs for that whole trip.”
With that in mind, Stevens took a proactive approach as he scheduled this West Coast swing. Saturday was a travel day – no practice. Sunday featured a light afternoon practice in Santa Monica, Calif. Monday’s game against the Clippers tipped off at 12:30 p.m., providing the team with a late afternoon, evening and night off. Stevens also gave the team all of Tuesday off before gathering the troops for practice upon Wednesday afternoon’s arrival in Portland.
No one will know how beneficial these preventative measures were until Boston’s road trip is in the books. However, the players have an idea of how their bodies feel as they head into their daunting four-game stretch.
Avery Bradley spoke on Wednesday about the schedule Stevens had put together. Bradley said his coach’s reasoning was “a mix of the time change and [Stevens] feeling like we needed to rest not only physically but mentally.”
Based upon body language alone, the Celtics certainly seem to be well rested in both departments. Their energy level was high as they took the court for Wednesday’s practice. And although Bradley did not say it aloud, he did seem to be insinuating that he felt refreshed upon his arrival in Portland.
That’s exactly how one would want to feel after a mini vacation in Los Angeles.
That’s exactly how the Celtics need to feel as they head into the most exhausting four-games-in-five nights stretch this NBA season has to offer.