The Boston Celtics held a rare practice on Tuesday afternoon before their trip to Orlando. They'll play the Magic Wednesday night in what is, to Brad Stevens, essentially the beginning of a seven game series that just happens to involve six different teams.
"Our playoffs clearly have started," he said, emphasizing the importance of the next 12 days. "Hopefully we can have our best seven games defensively as we head into whatever our postseason opportunities are."
Whatever lessons were hammered home in this practice need to show themselves on the floor immediately. The Celtics are now three games out of the fourth seed, 1.5 out of fifth, and one out of sixth. A loss to a bad team like Orlando would be rough, likely costing the Celtics their longshot chance at making up what is usually an insurmountable deficit.
Boston's saving grace at the moment is their two remaining games against current sixth seed Miami, and the season-ending game in New York against the current fourth-seed Knicks. Sweeping the Miami games and beating New York to take the tiebreaker will be huge, but the Knicks are also on a monster west coast swing. They are in Denver tomorrow night and have road games in Phoenix and Los Angeles against both the Laker and Clippers before returning home to finish against San Antonio, Charlotte, and Boston. A stumble now could open the door for Boston.
It means nothing if Boston doesn't step up their play right now. The lack of practice time has put the Celtics behind, but they still have an opportunity to make the most of the time they have left.
"I’d say you’re 10 or 20% behind normal of what you usually would get with regard to time on the court, honing the techniques and system things that can make you better and make you good," Stevens said. "I thought today’s practice was a positive, and we’ll need every day to be something that adds to what we’re doing, because these last seven games are super meaningful. Every single minute of every one of these games."
A POSITIVE HEALTH UPDATE