Currently in second place in the Eastern Conference, just behind Miami and hot on the heels of the Bucks and the Sixers, the Celtics are the team to fear as the playoffs approach.
With its balance sheet barely balanced at 25 wins for 25 losses at the end of last January, Boston looked gray. But the year 2022 is for the moment very auspicious for the troop of Ime Udoka, with an overpowering record of 25 victories for 5 defeats over the last two months.
Defeated by the Heat a few days ago, Boston nevertheless firmly believes in its ability to go far.
Ultra concentrated C’s
“Schematically, what we do can make us travel to the playoffs”assures Ime Udoka in The Athletic. “Our physical defense will translate into the playoffs. And in attack, we play selflessly and that’s a step in the right direction too. »
With 27 wins for 18 defeats against the teams with a positive record this season, the best in the East, the Celtics do have some guarantees on the solidity of their game. Only the Suns have done better in the face of such adversity…
In perfect symbiosis these days, the C’s have got into the good habit of widening the gap quickly, and maintaining this advantage by sticking to their defensive principles. The veteran of the group, Al Horford, appreciates the true value of the involvement of his teammates.
“It takes a lot of concentration. When there is a time-out and I watch our guys, I see it in their eyes: everyone is very focused. We understand what we have to do and we know that we can’t relax, because score advantages are caught up all the time. We must not panic and make sure that we stay focused as long as possible. It also has to be accompanied by a good selection of shots, at the right times. We can be at +20 but that doesn’t mean we have to start sending shots from anywhere and play it personally. You have to keep playing the right way and when you do that you usually put yourself in a good position to win. »
No weak link
Well in place despite the recent injury of Robert Williams III, the Celtics have already had great adventures in the playoffs recently, with three conference finals over the last five years. But the early exit in the first round against Brooklyn last year fueled local ambitions.
“Our defense is physical and we have versatility”outbids Marcus Smart, himself a candidate for the best defender of the year trophy. “In general in the playoffs, everything starts from the duels. The guys try to find the best duel by looking for the weak link. In our group, it’s difficult to find the weak link because we’re all strong. And then, in the playoffs, you have to be able to adapt. Like we got guys that can change [sur les écrans] from station 1 to station 5, that will help us enormously. »
Ready to defend strong, the Celtics do not necessarily intend to revolutionize their modus vivendi in the playoffs. Their current dynamic will carry them, according to them…
“We make a lot of changes over the course of the season anyway, so it’s not something that’s going to surprise the guys. But in the playoffs, it’s all about adjustments. So we will have plans A, B, C and D with the coaching staff”, concludes Ime Udoka. “We will present things with the players, as well as the different adaptations. But it’s similar to what we do during the season, when we try different things against certain teams, to take them by surprise. From this point of view, it does not fundamentally change what we were doing. »