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By taking care of the Brooklyn Nets as efficiently as possible in the first round of the playoffs, the Boston Celtics have earned ample time to rest and reset in preparation for their next challenge.
As the first team to make it through to the second round, Boston will have, at minimum, five days in between games, which should be of benefit as they get ready to take on either the Chicago Bulls or Milwaukee Bucks.
“It's big for a lot of reasons,” head coach Ime Udoka said of the extended break Wednesday afternoon, two days removed from his team’s series-sweeping win in Brooklyn. “We got four guys that played pretty heavy minutes in that series, so that added rest is good for them.”
While there is some benefit in going straight from one round into the next and keeping the momentum rolling, most players, including Al Horford, would tell you that getting an opportunity to reset physically and mentally ahead of the next challenge is more preferred.
“There can be a benefit in both, but for our group I’m very happy that we have this time for us going in well-prepared, having good practice sessions,” said Horford, who averaged 13.0 points and 7.5 rebounds while playing 32.0 minutes per game in Round 1. “For us, I feel like it’s very beneficial and we’re fortunate to be in this position.”
Both Horford and Rob Williams, in particular, should benefit from the added rest. Being 35 years old with 15 NBA seasons under his belt, Horford will take all the rest he can get heading into a playoff series. And for Williams, the opportunity to continue to readjust and rebuild his strength after coming back from knee surgery will be critical over the next few days.
Williams played just 30 minutes in total in Games 3 and 4 while coming off the bench. Although he admits he was a little rusty coming back, he claims to be “feeling great” from a physical standpoint.
“No pain at all. Knee is responding well,” he said. “On recovery days, it's responding well after days that are hard loads, so it's good.”
The past two days have been light for the Celtics, but Thursday will be a solid test for Williams, as the coaching staff is planning a heavy practice that will include a scrimmage.
“A big piece of that will be getting Rob back acclimated with everything,” Udoka said of the scrimmage. “Going forward, we want to get him back to his normal position, rotation, minutes and a big part of it is this week, his build up as well; making sure he responds well like he did in the games.”
The Celtics wouldn’t have been afforded a reset and ramp-up period had they not taken care of business with such efficiency in the first round. Now, they’ll have extra time to do so, while also preparing for their next potential opponent.