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Postseason lessons learned the hard way

04.15.09 at 9:38 pm ET
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Last season, the Celtics realized the hard way that the playoffs are where “Game Sevens happen.” After 26 postseason games and two trips of the brink of elimination en route to their championship, the Celtics will enter this weekend against the Chicago Bulls with valuable lessons learned.

Check your swagger at the door
The Celtics looked indestructible in Boston … and then they hit the road. They failed to win in Atlanta and Cleveland before pulling out a victory in Detroit. Last season they were saved by homecourt advantage but this time around they have no choice but to win away from the Garden.

Ray Allen: “Those three series that we played, we were up 2-0 and I think losing that first game in the other team’s building, you almost have too much swagger going into a building. I think Doc said it last year, ‘If you show up thinking wearing the green is going to be good enough, that’s when you end up losing.’ And I think that’s what happened to us. That preparation that we have at home has to carry over on the road, so it has to be even more intense and we have to be even better. So that’s where we don’t look at ourselves as targets. We look at other teams that we have to beat because now we have to go in Cleveland and win.”

Take care of your body
Postseason schedules can be unforgiving, especially when they involve cross-country trips that put players in different time zones from day to day. It is easy to get rundown, and one of the most important tasks a player has is staying healthy during the playoffs.

Glen Davis: “You’ve just got to get your rest, basically. You can’t do things like going out, staying out late nights. You have to make sure you’re ready to perform. Get a lot of treatment if you’re hurt, eat right most definitely, and the most important thing is sleep. So if you just stay focused on that because you can’t do anything about the traveling, you’ve got to work around it.”

Avoid the hype
Aside from basketball analysis, personal stories are often highlighted during the playoffs. During the NBA Finals, Leon Powe captivated a nation when ABC told the tales of his troubled childhood. Powe had to avoid the instant spotlight to stay focused on the task at hand.

Leon Powe: “I tried to block everything out, especially during our playoff run because I had the story, I had a lot of family members calling me about the story, about this, about that, what are you doing, can I come over. No, no. I wasn’t having any of that because I wanted to keep my head and keep my focus on the game … I think I just do a good job of doing that because I keep my focus on the game and know what I’m here for. I’m here to play basketball. Whatever else is going on around me, that can wait because you’ve got a job to do and go out there and prepare for a game and prepare to win the series.”

Read More: Glen Davis, Leon Powe, Ray Allen,
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