If NBA players had their way, teams likely would never play games on consecutive nights. Playing two full, 48-minute contests in one 24-hour span is a recipe for some some seriously tired legs.
But when the Boston Celtics have played two games in two nights this season, it’s their opponents who have been at a disadvantage.
The Celtics’ 93-89 win Saturday over the Indiana Pacers, which came one night after they knocked off the Orlando Magic, improved their record in the second end of back-to-backs this season to 9-5. If that mark doesn’t exactly wow you, consider this:
Boston has won the second game in seven of their last eight back-to-backs dating back to Jan. 23. Its only loss? A 96-93 slip-up in Milwaukee in the second-to-last game before the All-Star break.
“What we did was, right when we got here, even last year, we made it a conscious effort to say, ‘No excuses on back-to-backs,’” head coach Brad Stevens told reporters in Indianapolis after Saturday’s win. “Instead of that, let’s be the best team we can be on back-to-backs. Let’s see how we stack up against the rest of the league. It’s something that even when we were really not very — and we’re still not; we’re, like, seven games under .500 — but even when we were really struggling, it was still kind of something we hung our hat on.”
Stevens credits the Celtics’ mindset for their success in these types of situations, but their roster has been a big help, too. Given their lack of bona fide star power, Stevens can spread out minutes between his starters and his bench without a significant drop-off in talent on the floor.
Some other notes from Saturday’s win:
— When speaking about said mindset, Stevens made reference to guard Evan Turner’s tongue-in-cheek allegation that the coach had canceled the team’s food order for its flight to Indiana after a rough start to Friday night’s game.
“Our travel people do a great job, our nutritionists and athletic trainers,” Stevens said. “We have food on the plane, which was a big point of contention yesterday for some reason. So, they take care of themselves well.”
— Point guard and leading scorer Isaiah Thomas has missed each of the Celtics’ last three games. Boston has won all three, surviving close, low-scoring slugfests.
That’s just the way Stevens likes his wins.
“These are the kind of games that I’ve always loved,” he said. “You just find a way. Obviously, you like the games where you’re making every shot, and you have one of those nights, but one of those nights is called that for a reason. You’re not going to have it very often, and you just have to find a way. So, we did that. That was good.”
— Stevens’ players might not share his zest for close ballgames. Forward Jae Crowder is the player who’s most personified the Celtics’ “grind-it-out” mentality, and even he would prefer a cakewalk.
“Not as fun as a blowout, but tough games really help your team out a lot, especially late in the season like this when we’re trying to make a playoff push,” Crowder told reporters.
Thumbnail photo via Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports Images