Brad Stevens: Celtics Must Remain Focused Over Extended All-Star Break

WALTHAM, Mass. — Think of it as the calm between two storms.

The Boston Celtics recently wrapped up a stretch of four games in five days that brought them nearly to the end of the unofficial first half of the NBA season. Late next week, they’ll embark on a three-game West Coast swing before enduring a jam-packed March that includes five back-to-backs and 17 total games.

But for now, the Celtics are looking at a whole lot of nothing.

By the time the C’s take the court next Friday in Sacramento, they’ll have played just one game in the previous 12 days — a matchup Wednesday with the league-leading Atlanta Hawks that wraps up Boston’s pre-All-Star Game schedule.

The All-Star break always has been a welcome respite for players during the five-plus-month NBA season, but this year’s will offer an even longer rest period. In a move long argued for by players, the league opted before the season to give all teams at least seven days off around All-Star weekend, with most — including the Celtics — receiving eight.

Players certainly appreciate the additional recuperation time — Celtics center Tyler Zeller said Tuesday that he plans to spend the bulk of his at home relaxing — but the longer break does come with its drawbacks.

“I think the biggest thing — even from my perspective, and from all these guys’ perspectives — is you want to get away a little bit, but you can’t disengage because you’re in the middle of the season,” said Celtics coach Brad Stevens, who added that each player will be sent home with a personalized workout plan from strength and conditioning coach Bryan Doo. “This is not like the summer, when you have time to get back into it with a rhythm. You’ve got to come back and be ready to go when we get together next Wednesday.”

Next Wednesday is when Stevens’ troops will reconvene, giving them two days of practice to prepare for their date with the Kings. Practice time has been scarce for the Celtics of late, between a West Coast trip that occupied them for the latter half of January and the winter storm that forced Stevens to cancel practice Monday.

“It’s strange,” Stevens said. “Obviously, the weather didn’t cooperate with us, because it would have been nice to practice (Monday) and practice (Tuesday) and really gotten a lot of work done. We haven’t had a chance to practice hardly at all in the last three or four weeks.

“We’ll see how we respond to that when we go out West, but I would have liked to have had (Monday) to practice, that’s for sure.”

Stevens certainly isn’t hoping for a repeat of last season, when Boston returned from break and immediately dropped four straight out West. That forgettable road trip marked the beginning of the end for the 2013-14 Celtics, who went on to lose 18 of their final 24 games.

Thumbnail photo via Mark L. Baer/USA TODAY Sports Images

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