WALTHAM, Mass. – Let’s hope the Boston Celtics don’t have separation anxiety. It’s time to move on – and quickly.
Boston disposed of the Chicago Bulls Friday night and immediately needed to turn its attention to its next opponent, the Washington Wizards. The Celtics will host the Wizards at 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon, less than 39 hours after Game 6 ended in Chicago.
“We told each other, ‘Good job bouncing back from the loss(es),’ but you’ve got to look ahead,“ Jae Crowder said of the locker-room message Friday night. “You’ve got to do it all over again. It’s part of the Playoffs. That’s what it’s about – it’s about moving on.”
Sunday’s quick turnaround will pose as a challenge for the Celtics, who opted to stay overnight Friday in Chicago and then fly Saturday morning back to Boston. That decision, coupled with the early tip-off, will prevent the team from holding a full practice ahead of the first game of the series.
On Saturday, the Celtics stepped off of their chartered flight and immediately headed toward the practice facility for a brief prep session on the Wizards.
“We did a pretty decent film session that highlighted some of the things that we think are most important,” Brad Stevens explained of the Celtics. “We did some walk-through on offense and defense, and then we got the heck out of here.”
Additionally, the team was without Isaiah Thomas Saturday afternoon, as Thomas was back home in Tacoma, Washington, to attend the funeral services for his sister, Chyna.
The intention is for Thomas to fly back to Boston tonight and rejoin the team in the morning. The Celtics scheduled another get-together for Sunday morning, which fortunately isn’t a break in their regular routine.
“The nice thing about how we’ve done shootarounds all year is that we’re used to meeting before the game like this, regardless of if it’s a 1 o’clock or an 8’clock at night game,” said Stevens. “We’ll get a good, solid, 30-minute walk-through-shootaround in tomorrow morning.”
One would think that the lack of preparation time would incite a negative reaction from Boston, but the opposite is actually the case. The Celtics aren’t opposed to this setup, and some of them actually like it.
Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley both called the situation “fun” and described the reasoning their mindsets.
“It actually is (fun),” said Smart. “You get to go play ball, have fun, (and) you’re not really thinking about it. When guys get to go out there and just play freely and not think, that’s when guys play some of their best basketball.”
Bradley added, “It’s strange, but it’s fun. Coach was prepared. I feel like all of the guys were prepared.
“No one was complaining,” he continued with a smile and a chuckle. “It’s better to be here preparing instead of having an exit meeting, you know what I mean? That’s how we’re looking at it.”
And Boston is also viewing the hours leading up to tip-off, though short in quantity, as opportunities to improve. The Celtics do not plan to let any of the time left on the clock go to waste.
Let’s just say guys like Bradley won’t be watching Saturday Night Live tonight at home.
“I’m going to watch film, that’s probably what I’m going to be doing tonight,” Bradley said of his plans. “Probably come in here (to the practice facility) later tonight to get some shots up. Just make sure I’m mentally prepared for the game.”
The Celtics – and the Wizards, for that matter – would be much better prepared both mentally and physically if Game 1 was scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. But that isn’t the case.
Tip-off is an early one, at 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon. That’s just the card that was dealt.
So let’s hope the Celtics have short memories and limited attachment to the opening round. It’s time to move on to the Wizards – in short order – and grab a win in Game 1.