After two years of preparing for 29 NBA teams, Brad Stevens gets an opportunity to prepare for one, the Cavaliers, the Celtics’ opponents in the first round of the playoffs.
“As a coach you look forward to participating in events like the playoffs,” said Stevens, who on Thursday was named Eastern Conference coach of the month for April. “As a college coach what I look back most fondly on and I enjoyed the most was the people I got to work most with every day, and the one outside driving force was the NCAA Tournament.
“It’s the same when you’re a professional coach or professional athlete and you get a chance to participate in the playoffs. You get a chance to play against the best. We’re getting a chance to get out of the gate and do both. It’s an opportunity for all of us to see where we stand.”
The Celtics will enter the series, which begins Sunday in Cleveland, mostly healthy. Shooting guard Avery Bradley did not make the trip to Milwaukee for Wednesday’s regular-season finale because of a strained left quadriceps, although he is expected to practice Friday.
Isaiah Thomas also did not play Wednesday, but it was to rest.
The Celtics will depart for Cleveland on Saturday afternoon.
Taking his lumps
It’s already been a difficult month for Kelly Olynyk, who took an elbow to the eye in warm-ups before the April 1 game against the Pacers and needed stitches. Then on Wednesday, Olynyk was hit on the head by the Bucks’ Johnny O’Bryant while chasing a rebound and required more stitches.
“I felt it, and then I went down and reached to see if it was bleeding and there was a pool of blood in my hand, and I was like ‘Yeah, I’m definitely cut open,’ ” Olynyk said. “I said [to the official], ‘I think I got fouled,’ and he said, ‘You guys all went up there,’ and I said, ‘I didn’t do it to myself.’ ”
The Celtics have reached the playoffs, meaning they will not be part of the draft lottery. Despite Oklahoma City (45-37) having a better record than the Celtics (40-42), the Thunder will be one of 14 teams in the lottery.
The Nets have the worst record among playoff teams at 38-44 and will have the 15th overall pick, while the Celtics have the second-worst record and will select 16th.
Boston also has the Clippers’ first-round pick, and the Clippers and Rockets finished tied for the third-best record in the league at 56-26.
So, the Celtics will also pick 27th or 28th, depending on the tiebreaker between the Clippers and Rockets.
The NBA is expected to hold tiebreakers soon involving the Clippers-Rockets, Grizzlies-Spurs, Bulls-Mavericks, and Pacers-Jazz to determine draft position.