CHICAGO – Five letters here just for everybody out there in Celtics Nation: R-E-L-A-X.
Relax. We’re going to be OK.
Well, at least that’s what it feels like after the Boston Celtics spoke to the media upon their arrival Thursday afternoon in Chicago.
That’s right, the Celtics summoned their inner Aaron Rodgers, who made that comment to Packer-land back in 2014, ahead of practice at the United Center. The Celtics said that if they (and, one would presume, their fans as well) can just unwind a little bit, this series between Boston and Chicago will turn back in their direction.
“I think we just need to sit back and relax and just focus on just executing the game plan, whatever Brad (Stevens) prepares for us, and I feel like everything will be fine,” said Avery Bradley, one of a handful of C’s players who addressed the media and showcased high spirits. “Can’t panic. We’ve been here before.”
Yes, they have, literally a year ago to the day.
Rewind to April 20, 2016, and you’ll find the Celtics down 0-2 to the Atlanta Hawks in their first-round series of the Playoffs. Boston dropped the opening two games, one of which was in resounding fashion, and then rebounded to snag the next two to even the series up at 2-2.
One cannot claim that the circumstances surrounding the 0-2 deficits are similar – Atlanta was the No. 4 seed last season while Boston was the No. 5 seed returning home, and this season the Celtics are the No. 1 seed heading on the road while the Bulls are the No. 8 seed – but that’s not the point. The point is that Bradley and the Celtics have fallen behind by two games before, in very recent history, and gotten right back into the series.
Bradley and the Celtics believe they can do it again this time around, as long as they relax.
“When you’re not relaxed, you’re not thinking the game as much,” Bradley said. “You’re just out there kind of just running up and down playing, and I feel like that’s how it was last game. We were trying to get the game back in one shot. As a seasoned team, you have to understand that it’s going to take a few execution plays and a few defensive stops to get you back into the game.
“We all have to understand that, and once we’re able to, we’ll feel a lot more relaxed out there.”
Jae Crowder is a believer as well, and he thinks that the C’s will be able to rally around each other while playing on the road in a challenging environment.
“I feel like with this group we’re able to overcome it,” Crowder stated. “I’m very encouraged of us getting away and just being us, as a group, away from all the other distractions. I think it will be good for us.”
Do these guys seem relaxed to you?
Regardless of whether or not you think they should be relaxed, your answer is undoubtedly ‘yes.’ And that’s a good thing for the Boston Celtics.
It has worked for one team in the past. Maybe it’ll work again, this time for another shade of green.