C's Back At Work Despite Grueling Travel Schedule
WALTHAM, Mass. – Every season, the Boston Celtics are forced to navigate through 82 challenges against quality opponents. Today, an 83rd challenge was added to their plate.
Boston practiced Tuesday afternoon approximately 34 hours after arriving back home from its 10-day, West Coast road trip. Thirty-four hours sounds like plenty of time to recover, at least until the team’s travel schedule is taken into account.
The Celtics downed the Lakers Sunday night in Los Angeles and immediately departed for a cross-country, red-eye flight. The flight took off from LA at 10:45 p.m. local time and landed at 6:47 a.m. local time in Boston.
After winning an intense basketball game against a rival, and after being on the West Coast clock for nearly two weeks, the majority of the Celtics went sleepless on the flight home. An all-nighter, more typical for a college student during finals week than for a professional who relies on a healthy state of mind and body, had been logged.
Things didn’t get much better for the C’s upon touching down back home, either. After waiting for their bags to be unloaded from the plane, each player needed to uncover his car from the ice and snow that had built up over the previous 10 days, primarily from the multiple inches of snow that had accumulated that very morning. And by the time they exited the airport, they wound up being stuck in morning commuter traffic on their drive home.
It is unlikely that any player got to bed before 9 a.m., and each of them then had to battle the urge to sleep all day, which likely would have prevented them from sleeping at all Monday night. At least one player, Marcus Smart, chose to stay up until midnight Monday night before finally crashing for his first shut-eye in at least 30 hours.
“I went to sleep around 12 (a.m.), so that’s probably the earliest I’ve ever been asleep,” said Smart. “I stayed up all the way until I laid my head down on the pillow and I was KO’d. I was out of there.”
Smart slept well overnight, but there is no doubt that his and his teammates’ internal clocks are currently haywire. Their bodies are in the midst of a heavy adjustment period that will likely require multiple days to come to completion.
Yet there they were, back at work this afternoon, and not just going through the motions. The Celtics were working hard ahead of the Playoffs and were internalizing game plans for Wednesday’s matchup with the visiting New Orleans Pelicans.
“We’re professionals,” Smart said. “We’ll get back in the groove of things and get our minds back right.“
Avery Bradley, who was not with the team for its game against the Lakers due to personal reasons, is in no better place than his teammates from a physical and mental standpoint. In fact, his situation might even be worse.
Bradley’s personal life has left him with minimal sleep for the past few days. He confirmed Tuesday afternoon that he “hadn’t slept today.” However, he believes that he and his teammates will be able to battle through the grogginess of the next couple of days and manage to improve on the court.
“I think it’s easy (to overcome the lack of sleep),” he said, “because of the mindset of our entire team and kind of - it’s contagious, I guess you could say. Everybody is professional and everybody wants to go out there and play hard. It helps me focus a little bit more.”
While the Celtics have yet to embark on their Playoff run, and while they’ll take on a 29-47 team Wednesday night, Bradley made it clear that Tuesday’s practice was a critical component to the team’s future success.
“Every single time we get a chance to be together, whether it’s film, whether it’s practice, whatever it is, we should take advantage of it to prepare for the Playoffs, even if we’re having a little meeting,” he said. “Brad (Stevens) always tells us, ‘If you take 15 minutes out of your day every single day and it’s just to focus on basketball, if it’s watching film, if it’s ball handling, whatever it is, you’re giving yourself a chance to become better for your team.’”
The C’s took the court this afternoon at their practice facility for the first time since March 24. They did so to become a better basketball team… though they may have done so with only one eye open.