Three games remain in their season, which will end without a trip to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. Even with Friday’s victory over the Charlotte Bobcats, the Celtics have lost nine of their last 10 games and are just hoping to sustain enough healthy bodies to make it to the finish.
Yet coach Brad Stevens says he does not feel an urge to get fancy. Depending on who is available to play, the Celtics will stay with the same general rotation they have used all season and stick to their standard practice schedule the rest of the way.
“I’d like to feel good about ourselves heading into the offseason,” Stevens said before Friday’s game. “I’ve said that numerous times. To me, you always play based on who deserves to play and who can best give you a chance to be successful. There won’t be any outside experimentation. I think we’ve got a pretty good idea. I think you all do, too, having been here with us for 78 games.”
In other words, don’t expect to see Brandon Bass randomly manning the small forward spot or Chris Johnson running the point. However, Stevens hasn’t been conservative with his substitution patterns at all this season.
He drew the ire of Keith Bogans and Gerald Wallace before the season even began by handing out uneven playing time to the veterans, with Bogans eventually being banished from the team. Kris Humphries endured a month at the end of the bench before cracking the rotation and eventually the starting five. Bass was shuffled in and out of the starting lineup as well, despite his seniority in the frontcourt.
All the lineup juggling led to rookie Phil Pressey adopting Bass’s trademark for staying ready, no matter the role: When you walk in, lock in.
Likewise, Stevens is not planning on altering the practice regimen for the final four days. Generally, the day after a back-to-back, the team only opens the gym to give players the option of working out, which means the Celtics would be off Sunday and would practice only once more this season: Tuesday, sandwiched between a road game against the Philadelphia 76ers and the season finale at home against the Washington Wizards.
Yet Stevens has also occasionally given the players the day off after playing three games in four nights, which would be the case Tuesday. By holding practice that day, Stevens would send the message that he is pushing hard through the finish line. But he’s not interested in doing so if it won’t be beneficial, just to reinforce his image as a hard-liner.
“It will depend on how our legs look at that time,” Stevens said. “We’ll have our typical shootarounds, like we’ve had. We’re doing everything the same, all the way through the final buzzer next Wednesday night.”