Last season it was all about Boston being healthy.
Doc Rivers sacrificed games — Boston was 11-11 in their last 22 — to get healthy and have players rested for the playoffs. Boston fell to the four seed, but Rivers got the physically ready veteran team he wanted. They came within a quarter of getting new rings to wear.
This season, with the Celtics loss to the pesky Rockets Monday night, the Heat moved a full game ahead of Boston in the Eastern Conference. Both Orlando — winners of nine straight — and the Bulls are three games back of Boston and are closing on them.
But who cares about seeding and home court, right? Wrong. Doc Rivers cares and told ESPN this isn’t last year.
“This year’s not like last year, where you can coast,” Rivers admitted. “You don’t have home court this year, you could go home.”
Understand that part of Rivers motivation in saying what he did is to light a fire under a Celtics team that has played some pretty bad defense recently with Kevin Garnett out. It’s about motivation.
But he’s also right. Having to win two series in a row on the road in this East is going to be much harder than it was last time around. Boston — and every team in the East — needs some home court. It matters more this season. And with that, little January slumps are harder to overlook.