BOSTON (CBS) – The Boston Celtics are finally home after a grueling five-game road trip that took them all over the West Coast the last seven days.
They only went 2-3 on the post All-Star break trip, salvaging the final game Monday night with a gutsy 110-107 overtime win over the Utah Jazz. But given their achy bodies and jet-lagged minds, the Celtics have earned a little rest for their troubles.
And that is probably the best thing for this group, especially even with more travel staring them down in March and April.
For all the miles they earned going up, down and around the left side of the country, head coach Doc Rivers has given the team Tuesday and Wednesday off. Boston won’t return to the practice court until Thursday, a chance to rest their bodies and their minds.
The savvy vets of the Celtics need to stay away from the gym and take full advantage of the next two days. Kevin Garnett already received last Friday off in Phoenix, but Danny Ainge needs to have armed guards around the Healthpoint entrance to make sure he stays away. The same goes for Paul Pierce, who despite looking 65-years-old at times put together a vintage performance Monday night, leading Boston with 26 points (seven coming in OT), 8 assists and 7 rebounds. But he required 39 minutes on the floor to do so, and after the win joked “the 35 and up group will probably get a couple of days off.”
Pierce was right, and that’s the best medicine from Doc Rivers with the regular season’s final two months ahead. While the stretch be as grueling travel-wise as the five-game trip they just got back from, the end of the season could be hell for the Celtics.
Boston opens March at home Friday night against the Golden State Warriors, but then hit the road for a tough back-to-back in Philadelphia and Indiana. Four of their next six contests come on the road, with a total of nine road games in March. To make matters worse, the Celtics — who are just 10-18 on the road this season — have more road games (13) than home games (12) remaining this season.
For the new guys — Jordan Crawford, acquired at the trade deadline last Thursday, and Terrence Williams, who signed a 10-day contract on February 18 — rest isn’t the priority though, so don’t be surprised they find their way to Healthpoint for some extra work with the coaches. Once D.J. White receives his clearance papers from China and officially signs his 10-day contract with the C’s, he’ll likely do the same, in hopes of getting a crash course ahead of either Thursday’s practice or Friday’s game.
But for the veterans on the team, it’s imperative for the Celtics to rest up for their final stretch of the season. If Boston wants to improve on their current playoff seeding — currently the seventh seed in the East, three games ahead of Milwaukee and 2.5 behind Chicago — and get over their road woes, they need to be healthy and well-rested to do so.
And since health has already been thrown out the window, being well-rested is the next best option.
Follow Matthew Geagan on Twitter @MattyGWBZ