The home team has won all four games in the Celtics’ first-round playoff series against the Hawks. Of course, the Celtics will need to win at least once in Atlanta to win this series. But Boston lost by just 1 point in Game 1, so the team knows it is hardly an impossible task.
“When you’re playing on the road, you have to do a great job of just staying in the moment and focusing on the task at hand,” coach Brad Stevens said. “But I think you have to do that at home, too.
“I think it’s less about where it is and more how you play. And at the same time, I don’t think I have been in very many playoff environments like the one the last few games [at TD Garden]. It was incredible.”
Feeling out Olynyk
Forward Kelly Olynyk returned Sunday after missing the previous two games with a sore right shoulder, but he played just four minutes and appeared slightly tentative on offense.
In a conference call Monday, Stevens emphasized Olynyk’s value to the team as a 7-footer who can space the floor as a 3-point threat. But he acknowledged that the Celtics can’t afford to play Olynyk extensively just hoping that he will regain his rhythm.
“We aren’t in a position where if a guy has rust, that you’re going to be able to play much, obviously,” Stevens said. “But if he feels really good and is playing really well, then his minutes will certainly expand in that moment.
“I just felt like, the way that we had played the game before and the fact that he hadn’t played in a week, it was probably better to go with the other guys [Sunday].”
All about timing
The Celtics outscored the Hawks by 21 points during the 43 minutes point guard Isaiah Thomas was on the court in Game 4. When Thomas sits, it generally becomes considerably more difficult for Boston to accumulate points. He averaged 32.2 minutes per game during the regular season, but Stevens said the playoffs offer a chance to steal a few extra minutes here and there.
“We’ve got a lot of numbers backing up the best methods and the best way to do it, from a minute standpoint,” Stevens said. “And we were pretty consistent throughout the regular season.
“In a situation where you bring him in maybe two minutes earlier in the playoffs, that’s not going to have a huge impact on a guy, especially with the adrenaline, the extra day’s rest, the 3½-minute media timeout at the end of each quarter.”
Thomas is averaging 36.8 minutes per game in the playoffs, a figure that was raised slightly by Sunday’s overtime game.