fb-pixel Skip to main content

Brad Stevens focuses on rhythm and health

Celtics guard Evan Turner (right), sporting protective glasses, stole the ball from Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo. Barry Chin/Globe Staff

As the final few days of the regular season approach, the Celtics will look to find the balance between staying healthy, getting enough rest, and chasing the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

But coach Brad Stevens said he is primarily focused on finding a rhythm by playing well, regardless of who is in the game.

“We need to be playing at a good rate, defensively and offensively, as we head into next week,” said Stevens before Friday’s 124-109 win over the Bucks. “Obviously, health is incredibly important as you get into the playoffs, but there’s a lot of things that go into being successful, and we want to be playing well.”


With the victory, the Celtics are tied for third with the Hawks, with the Heat and Hornets just one game back. The third-place team would receive home-court advantage in the first round and also avoid the Cavaliers in the second round. The fourth-place team would also get home-court advantage. For the Celtics, now 27-12 at TD Garden this season, that would seem to be significant.

“We all want to win every single game, but more importantly you want to build camaraderie and chemistry,” guard Evan Turner said. “It further advances the team. But people have been out every other week and we haven’t had the full roster since February. It’s important that we really focus on that.”

Bucks coach Jason Kidd said that for a young team, resting before the playoffs is hardly essential and perhaps even overrated. The Celtics, of course, do not have a player on their roster who is in his 30s.

“When you’re young you can play forever, and so rest isn’t needed,” Kidd said. “I think that’s something we’ve kind of lost sight about this rest thing. We’ve got a lot of young guys who can play a lot of minutes, and then we’ve got older teams like San Antonio who maybe started the rest thing, who need rest, because they’ve got guys that are close to 40 and not close to 25.”


Eye protection

Turner returned wearing protective eyewear after missing Wednesday’s win against the Pelicans with a left eye abrasion. He suffered the injury in the fourth quarter of the Celtics’ win over the Lakers on Sunday when forward Julius Randle caught Turner’s eye while trying to bat a rebound to a teammate.

Turner’s eye remained quite red on Friday night, but he said his peripheral vision was not affected. He completed some shooting drills and cardiovascular work on Thursday and said he was unsure how long he would continue to wear the goggles.

“I’m a little more cautious after getting hit in my eye,” he said. “You don’t know what could happen. Whatever happens, once the goggles aren’t comfortable, I’ll take them off.”

In 31 minutes on Friday night, Turner finished with 4 points, 4 rebounds, and 9 assists.

Maine men

The Celtics’ NBADL affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, wrapped up their season on Thursday night after being swept in the first round of the playoffs by the Canton Charge. The Celtics took full advantage of their partnership with the team this season, as Jordan Mickey, James Young, Terry Rozier and R.J. Hunter all spent time in Portland.

Also, the Celtics signed Red Claws forward Coty Clarke to a pair of 10-day contracts this season and they assigned second-round draft pick Marcus Thornton to the team when he returned from playing professionally in Australia.


“I thought it was a positive, as usual,” Stevens said. “[Head coach] Scott Morrison does such a great job, as does his staff. Those guys transition seamlessly when they go up there. It can’t be a better situation from my standpoint of the way that those guys are coached, the amount of attention they get, and the amount of game reps they get. I can’t imagine there’s a better setup in the league.”

Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at adam.himmelsbach@globe.com.