2022 NBA Playoffs

Long breaks between games gives playoff teams time to heal

The Celtics, Bucks, Grizzlies and Warriors have not played since Tuesday.

Marcus Smart is probable for Saturday’s Game 3 in Milwaukee.

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The quirks of scheduling for the NBA playoffs created three-day breaks between games in the Boston-Milwaukee and Memphis-Golden State series.

In this case, the teams don’t mind the delays too much. They have used the time off to get healthier and deal with unexpected roster changes.

“It’s beneficial in a lot of ways,” Celtics coach Ime Udoka said.

The Celtics-Bucks and Grizzlies-Warriors series are both tied heading into Game 3s on Saturday at Milwaukee and San Francisco. These four teams haven’t played since Tuesday.

NBA teams rarely get such long layoffs. For example, the Grizzlies had three off days between games just once during the regular season, aside from the All-Star break.

Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said he would have preferred to have two days between games rather than three. But he felt players could benefit from having time for a mental break amid a grueling series.

“There’s definitely positives,” Bucks center Brook Lopez said. “It is helpful to recover. It’s helpful because you can watch film, you can go over what the other team’s doing, what you’re doing, learn a lot of stuff. But we’re all definitely itching to play as well. Maybe that’s because we lost the last game, but we’re definitely ready to get back out there.”

The longer break gave players time to heal.

Ukoda said Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart is probable for Saturday after missing Game 2 with a bruised right thigh. Memphis center Steven Adams cleared Health and Safety Protocols and should play Saturday after missing the first two games of the Grizzlies-Warriors series.

“I’m glad Steve-O’s back,” Grizzlies forward Jaren Jackson said. “He looks great.”

Bucks forward Khris Middleton remains out for at least the next two games with a sprained left medial collateral ligament, but the longer this series goes, the more likely he gets to play in this round.

The Grizzlies and Warriors also got accustomed to working without guys who will be missing when the series resumes.

Golden State’s Gary Payton II is out indefinitely with a broken left elbow after taking a flagrant foul from Memphis’ Dillon Brooks, who received a one-game suspension.

“Just having some time at home to get some rest in and get some good practices in and really lock in on the game plan is always going to be good for us,” Warriors center Kevon Looney said. “We have a veteran team and it’s given us a chance to make some adjustments and figure out and learn from our last loss.”

They like having that extra time, even though it’s out of the ordinary.

“I’ve been in the playoffs where we play every other day,” Celtics forward Al Horford said. “And when that’s the case, you’re wishing and hoping, ‘Man, I hope we get an extra day.’ Now in this case, it’s a ‘When are we playing again?’-type thing. At the end of the day, this is the way it is. The scheduling works out this way. We have to make sure we stay ready no matter what it is.”