The Celtics wrapped up their series with the Sixers on Saturday night, and now have to fly to Miami Sunday morning for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against a Heat team that has been healing and waiting for five days. Considering the age and injury status of most of the Celtics, this might be cause for concern. Naturally, the guys in green are laughing that off and talking about how it’s actually a good thing they have to turn around and start a series against the best remaining team in the playoffs (outside of them, in their minds):
“It’s a quick turnaround, but I kind of like it that way,” Pierce said following the Celtics clinching 85-75 win. “It keeps us in rhythm, it keeps us playing. We’re an older team so we don’t want to sit around for too long. You know we like the fact that we usually go right into it. We have tomorrow off, we’ll probably watch some film, go over scouting reports, shootaround on Monday, and that’s it.”
“I prefer it myself,” said Ray Allen. “We get back to business. We have a day to rest and then we’re back out there playing. At this point, everybody’s going to be what they’re going to be. You’re going to be tired or you’re going to be fatigued or whatever it is. We have to continue to take the rhythm that we have and now we have to change it and reconfigure how we think defensively and what we run offensively. The series changes. We don’t have a lot of time, but we have veteran players that know how to adjust to a new series.”
In reality, it’s not going to help much even if they had gotten more time. Paul Pierce’s strained MCL is still going to be sore, Ray Allen’s bone spurs in his ankle will still bother him, Avery Bradley’s not coming back. Nothing changes with a few more days of rest. But the idea that it’s a good thing? That’s a bit much. We’ve seen layovers from long series hurt teams routinely as opponents can outrun a gassed team especially considering the emotional letdown after a Game 7. The Celtics are pros and will be ready, but there’s just no way this is an advantage.
Then again, the Celtics do fight the most when their backs are against the wall.