WALTHAM, Mass. – The last two postseasons have produced no series victories for the Boston Celtics. They plan to change that this time around by trusting in the process.
The process is something Brad Stevens has been preaching to this group of Celtics ever since it came together for the first time back in September. Take care of today, the coach tells his players, and the long-term results will take care of themselves.
“You stay in the moment. You prepare for the next game. You put your signature on your work every day and you move forward,” Stevens explained Saturday afternoon of the team’s mantra. “I think that’s a fulfilling way to coach. I think it’s a fulfilling way to play, to live. And so that’s what we try to do every day.”
Doing so has led to quite a successful season for Boston, which enters the Playoffs as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. The team has approached this season day-by-day and game-by-game, and that approach led to 53 regular-season victories.
The C’s plan to apply the exact same approach to their upcoming playoff run. While they do aspire to capture a title, they understand that the NBA Playoffs are a process as well. As Jae Crowder put it, “You’ve got games to win before you get there.”
That’s why Saturday afternoon was all about practice and preparation, and why Sunday afternoon will be all about Game 1. This approach, the Celtics believe, will position them to reach their long-term goals.
“It makes everything around you much easier if you simplify your life, and your game, and each game you play,” Crowder said. “We put [that mindset] into play as we live our lives and our practices, day-to-day, game-to-game.”
Boston took a similar approach into last season’s Playoffs as the fifth seed but was unable to take down the fourth-seeded Atlanta Hawks in the first round. This year’s team, however, is different.
“Everybody’s more comfortable, and our confidence is up,” said Marcus Smart. “Everybody’s contributing to this team and making winning plays.”
Sunday afternoon will be the team’s first opportunity to showcase such improvements during this season’s Playoffs, as the Celtics are set to host the Chicago Bulls at 6:30 p.m.
Game 1 against Chicago could very well stand as Boston’s first step toward a deep postseason run, its first of that kind since 2012. However, the team won’t look at it from such a macro-level.
Instead, the Celtics will look at Game 1 from a micro-level. Sunday is its own step, just as Saturday was, and as Friday was, and so on.
One step at a time – the process – is what got Boston here, and it’s what may also get the Celtics to where they want to go.