BOSTON — The NBA playoffs are right around the corner, and Brad Stevens knows the challenges that lay ahead of the Boston Celtics.

Boston has 14 regular season games on left and will have a tough task in the Sacramento Kings on Thursday night at TD Garden. Stevens said Thursday’s matchup will be a chance for his squad to try improving its transition defense, and added the C’s need to “build the right habits” the rest of the season leading up to the playoffs.

“I think you have to build the right habits prior to (the postseason). Doesn’t mean you’re gonna play perfect heading in,” Stevens said before the game. “You can go through the list of teams in the NBA that have had tough stretches right before the playoffs. Go through the list of teams that have won Super Bowls — with the exception of the Patriots — over the course of the last 15 years. There have been a lot of teams that really went to a different level because they played well. Bottom line is you gotta do everything you can to be healthy, feel good, play well … I think habits are a big part of that.”

The C’s sit fifth in the Eastern Conference after being pegged as the conference favorites ahead of the 2018-19 season. Boston certainly hasn’t had the season it expected, but Stevens said the postseason will be hard in general, not just because his team has struggled at times.

“It’s gonna be difficult right out of the gate for us, that’s the bottom line,” Stevens said. “That would be the case anyway because playoffs are just hard. If you’re not ready for the physical and emotional and mental challenge of each possession in the playoffs that’ll hit you right between the eyes.”

Boston is coming off a 3-1 West Coast road trip that ended with a blowout loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, so the C’s will look to back in the win column Thursday and get as prepared as possible for an extended playoff run.

Thumbnail photo via Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports Images