Stevens not planning on sitting healthy players in Celtics' last two games


BOSTON – When it comes to Brad Stevens' message regarding resting players late in the season, he has been consistent for weeks.
So it comes as no surprise that Stevens has no plans of sitting otherwise healthy players in either of the team’s last two games, the first of which is tonight against the Brooklyn Nets.
A win tonight for Boston (51-29) and a loss by Cleveland at Miami will put the Celtics in sole possession of first in the East.
That would then position the Celtics to go into their regular season finale against Milwaukee on Wednesday needing a win to secure the top seed in the East and with it, home court advantage throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Stevens is well aware of where the Celtics stand in terms of the playoffs.
But he has been a stay-in-the-moment coach all season, and that’s not going to change even with his club on the cusp of potentially finishing the season with the best record in the East.
“The most important thing is tonight’s game (against Brooklyn). That’s the way I’m looking at it,” Stevens said. “Whatever seed we get, we get. That’ll be the result of an 82-game schedule, not the result of one or two games. It is what it is. We’ve had a pretty consistent year with regard to performance. We’ve also had moments where we haven’t played as well. I’m literally not talking about it with the team nor am I losing one second of sleep over it.”
Stevens is more concerned with a Nets team that has played its best basketball to close out this season.
Brooklyn (20-60) comes into tonight’s game having won four of its last five games which includes victories over playoff-bound Atlanta and playoff contender Chicago.
After playing against the Nets during the preseason, Stevens said he thought they would be one of the teams in the league this year that would exceed expectations.
“What happened to them was Jeremy Lin got hurt,” Stevens said. “That was probably the one injury that they couldn’t afford at that time.”
Injuries have limited the former star at Harvard has appeared in just 35 games this season, averaging 14.2 points, 5.1 assists and 3.5 rebounds.
With him in the lineup, the Nets are 13-22 this year which includes wins in four of the last five games. Without him, they are 7-38.
“Ever since he’s been back and going, in the last month they’re a top-five defense, top-10 in transition, top-five getting to the free throw line,” Stevens said. “They’ve been really good. They’ve kept it going, seven of the last 12 wins ... it’s a heck of an ending.”
The same could be said for the Celtics if they can win tonight and from there go on to finish with the best record in the East.

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