|How important is home court for Celtics? Maybe not as important as you think||04.12.16 at 8:59 pm ET|
WALTHAM — This has been an odd year for the Celtics on their home court.
They started off 9-10 on the parquet. They suffered humiliating losses to the likes of the Lakers and Brooklyn back-to-back to open the new calendar year.
Then they went on a 14-game win streak, the longest in the 20-year history of TD Garden. They fell back to earth with a thud when they lost at home to schizophrenic Rockets, which preceded a blowout loss to Kevin Durant and the Thunder, a game they trailed by 30 at one point. The rebounded with four straight at home before losing a stinker Monday night to Charlotte, inexplicably getting outscored 39-13 in the third quarter.
All of this leads to one simple question: Will home court, if they earn it Wednesday night against the Heat, really be a factor for the Celtics when the playoffs start this weekend?
“So I’m not going to concern myself with things I can’t control, again,” coach Brad Stevens said in a classic, pleasant-sounding misdirection of a reply. “Hey, I think no matter what, in the playoffs, you can’t be a dud on the road and expect to win a playoff series. And you can’t be good but inconsistent at home and expect to win a playoff series. You just have to play well in the games that you have.
“Again, these guys, our team, as bitter a taste as we may feel from last night, has put ourselves in a great position all year with their play. These guys have really done a lot of good things. And we’ll look forward to playing whoever we play, wherever we play, when that time comes.”
WALTHAM — The mere thought of playoff scenarios just gives Brad Stevens an ice cream headache.
The Celtics coach had enough on his plate Tuesday before practice digesting what exactly went wrong Monday night and trying to install changes in film and practice to make sure they don’t have a repeat on Wednesday night against Miami in the regular-season finale at TD Garden.
In short, if the 47-34 Celtics win, they wrap up the No. 4 seed and home-court advantage, barring a three-way tie with Miami and Atlanta. If the Heat lose to the Pistons on Tuesday night, that possibility is out the door since the Celtics would pass Miami in the standings with a win and finish No. 4.
If the Celtics lose, they are staring at a No. 5 or 6 seed.
“I think my level of concern or the amount of thoughts that are going through my head are probably the same regardless of the outcome,” Stevens said Tuesday. “I’m interested to see how we respond. This has been a good group as far as responding goes.”
And the playoffs?
“I’m interested to see how we respond to last night’s game today,” Stevens said before Tuesday’s practice. “Then, certainly [Wednesday]. Then, hey, no matter how this stuff all shakes itself out, which, somebody just put on my desk all the scenarios and I said, ‘Would you mind throwing that away?’ Like, it’s a headache to even try to figure out. We’re playing the three teams that we may play in the last three games. I thought we learned a lot of things that we can do well against Atlanta that maybe we haven’t done as well in the past.
“I thought last night we just got killed in that eight-minute stretch and we can take from that. We’ll see how we play tomorrow. Certainly, you’ve got to focus on the things that you can control, and that’s going to continue to stay the same.”
WALTHAM — There’s no one more explosive on the Celtics than Isaiah Thomas.
When that is controlled and confined to the scoring column, the Celtics, as the Warriors found out, can beat anyone in the NBA.
When it spins out of control as it did Monday night, the Celtics look helpless.
Part of what drew Danny Ainge to Thomas is exactly what he was as a player in the 1980s and ’90s. Thomas is a fierce competitor who loves to score and lead his team.
He can’t do that when he’s on the bench, frustrated and raising his hands at officials when calls don’t go his way. Brad Stevens saw the other side Monday and decided to bench Thomas after the guard picked up a technical with 3:55 left in the third quarter.
“Yeah, listen, you can’t do that. That’ll catch up with you,” Stevens said before Tuesday’s practice. “Those are things that you can talk about until you’re blue in the face, but you have to make sure you move on to the next play regardless. If you don’t, then that story tells itself. And you get burned by those things.”
|Will Celtics really be ready for playoffs?||at 11:55 am ET|
After consecutive losses to playoff teams on Saturday and Monday, there is a little doubt creeping into the minds of Celtics fans.
Are the Celtics the team that beat Golden State and Cleveland on the road and posted a 47-32 record in their first 79 games? Or are they the team that has been exposed in the second half in Atlanta and the entirety of their humiliating loss to the Hornets on Monday night at home?
Avery Bradley said after Saturday’s game in Atlanta that the Celtics looked at times to be a team fighting itself and playing tight. After Monday’s 114-100 loss to Charlotte at TD Garden, Bradley laid it out on the line for a team that was outscored 39-13 in the second quarter and blown out of its own building.
“All the credit to them. We just have to prepare and try to fix all the mistakes we had,” Bradley said. “I know the coach said it. I’m pretty sure everybody else is going to say it. We just have to try to fix all the small things that we did [wrong] because in the playoffs, if we make these same mistakes, we might lose by 40.”
|With playoff implications on the line, Brad Stevens laments, ‘We laid an 8-minute egg’||04.11.16 at 11:25 pm ET|
As Brad Stevens stepped to the podium Monday night after a stinker of a loss, 114-100 to the Hornets, he hid a wry smile and knew what was coming next.
What was the problem in a game that saw you outscored 39-13 in the second quarter, never to be heard from again?
“We laid an eight-minute egg at the end of the second quarter, and just couldn’t overcome,” Stevens said. “We were up 38-32 and then I think they went on a 31-3 run, offense was bad, defense was bad, everything was poor, but that’s what it boiled down to. I mean, it was an eight minute — we laid an eight-minute egg. That’s the way I look at it. That’s enough against those guys when they’re shooting it like that, to really hurt you.”
The Celtics made just 3-of-22 shots from the field in the second quarter while the Hornets hit on 11-of-19, including 3-of-8 from beyond the arc. The Celtics missed all four of theirs from long distance. The Celtics had six turnovers while the Hornets had just three. Jeremy Lin, the former Harvard star, had quite a night on Asian-American night at TD Garden, scoring a game-high 25 points on 7-of-14 shooting from the field.
“I don’t know what we shot — what did we shoot? — obviously not very good, but it really wasn’t even the shooting,” Stevens said. “They’ve got to be able to believe in their work, and we’re not harping on each and every shot that they take and everything else. And so you just have to step up and shoot it confidently. And believe that the next one’s going in.
“There are times, certainly, where you don’t feel as good as other times, but at that moment, make plays for other people. But I think the biggest thing was we tried to dribble through traffic in that eight-minute stretch, and it was like we were just dribbling into five guys, 10 arms. And everybody was in the paint because we weren’t making shots. And so, you know, we just kept fumbling the ball and turning it over, and those run-outs hurt and then they got going shooting the ball and Lin was excellent for them in that stretch as well.”
|Celtics sign former Boston University star John Holland||at 6:52 pm ET|
John Holland can come home again, at least to where he played his college basketball.
The former standout guard from Boston University signed a contract Monday with the Celtics after appearing in 37 regular season contests for the D-League Canton Charge this year.
The 6-foot-5 guard averaged 16.0 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.2 steals in 30.2 minutes per game. He shot 52.0 percent from the floor, 36.9 percent from beyond the arc and 85.2 percent from the free-throw line during the regular season.
During the 2015-16 D-League Playoffs, Holland has averaged 28.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and shot 62.5 percent from the field and 58.8 percent from the three-point line.
“Obviously John has had a good D-League year,” Brad Stevens said before Monday’s game. “He’s played overseas since he left Boston U. Obviously, he had a great career at Boston U. He played really well against us in the D-League and the D-League tournament in the first round of the playoffs.
“He’s a good player. He brings shooting. He brings pretty good size for a perimeter player. He brings the ability to switch. And he’s another person that we can add as depth, should we need some perimeter depth.”
Holland, the 40th Gatorade D-League call-up this season, was named the America East Conference Player of the Year as a Boston University senior when he led the Terriers to the 2011 NCAA Tournament. He finished his collegiate career as just the second player in America East history with at least 2,000 points, 700 rebounds and 200 steals.
A native of the Bronx, N.Y., Holland has played professionally in France, Spain and Turkey, and was in training camp with the San Antonio Spurs in 2014.
It would be natural for fans to think Brad Stevens and his fans are thinking about all the different possibilities for the playoffs with two home games left on the schedule.
But thinking about it and talking about it are two completely different concepts in the mind of the Celtics coach.
The Celtics, following Saturday’s loss in Atlanta, enter Monday with a 47-33 record, tied with Miami for fourth in the East, one game behind the Hawks. They are also one game ahead of sixth-place Charlotte.
The Celtics could wind up playing the Hawks, Heat or Hornets in the first round, and could have home court or not.
All Stevens can do with his team is to tell them to play the situation immediately in front of them and not look at the scoreboard.
“Completely. Today is all about Charlotte,” Stevens said before Monday’s game. “We didn’t mention anything else. We got together. We did our typical film. We did our typical walkthrough. We went through what we didn’t do well against Atlanta. We went through what we did do well. We went through what want to bottle up and play in a certain way against Charlotte and get ready for tonight’s game.
“Again, I’m sure that our guys are talking about it. I’m sure if you ask them, they’ll talk about it. We literally never talk about it. And it’s not something that’s relevant to winning tonight. We just have to focus on the things that we can control.
“So, our deal is just to continue to play and continue to focus on the things we can control and play well,” Stevens said. “I thought we did some really good things against Atlanta. I thought we did even better things against Milwaukee. With this being obviously, a lot yet to be determined, these are games that are important to play well in.”
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