The Celtics won’t have a lot on the line when seeding games begin on July 31st. Without homecourt advantage at stake and a short ramp-up period of camp in Orlando, it’s a fair question to ask how certain teams will approach those contests leading into the playoffs in mid-August.
Brad Stevens has made clear already the team will hold back with minutes for Kemba Walker in order to strengthen his ailing knee. However, the head coach made clear on Monday that the C’s won’t be experimenting too much out of the gate in hopes of building a rhythm for the postseason.
“Obviously we’re going to play the seeding games – we’ll prioritize being our very best and peaking at the right time we hope,” Stevens said. “Every team is probably that way. Certainly, every team in our position is probably that way. But the seeding games we’re going to play probably a normal type rotation, especially early on. And we’ll see kind of how it all plays itself out.”
The good news for the Celtics is that they will have some of their toughest games early on, with matchups against the Bucks, Heat and Raptors in their first five games. That should provide Stevens with a good measuring stick to see where this group is at as the postseason approaches.
“I still think the goal is to be peaking, the goal is to be playing well,” Stevens said of the seeding games. “The goal is to be playing good basketball and I don’t think you can just turn that on, at least in my experience, we haven’t been able to just turn that on all the sudden. We have to be building towards that.
“So our focus will be on the first seeding game against Milwaukee. We’ve got to prepare really well and play as well as we can. I like playing Milwaukee first because they challenge you in so many different ways. When you think about their defense being as elite as it is and their offense being as fast and spread out as it is, we’re going to find out a lot about ourselves on July 31.”
Kemba sits again, will take part in practice Wednesday
The All-Star point guard had his second consecutive light day in Orlando on Monday, ahead of a day off for the team on Tuesday. While Walker has not been made available to the media yet, Stevens provided some extra context about Walker’s workout plan, noting that he had been experiencing issues again with his knee after recent workouts.
“He had a little bit of discomfort after a couple of the individual workouts,” Stevens said. “I don't know if that was after he talked to you or before he talked to you. He certainly I think feels better than he did even in March. But with just even the small discomfort we said, 'Let's take the four days, and ramp it up appropriately.' The number one thing is strength, and strength around the knee. Hard to do that with the four days we just had.”
While Walker was watching from the sidelines today, the rest of the team went at it in what appeared to be