Don’t tell Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens that game No. 82 of the NBA regular season is meaningless.
Even with the C’s firmly positioned already in the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference and sitting out seven key contributors in their rotation, Stevens will look to see what his remaining cast can offer when they face the Washington Wizards Tuesday night.
Jaylen Brown, Terry Rozier, Semi Ojeleye and Daniel Theis are the only players who average over 10 minutes a game expected to play.
Celtics available tonight:— Keith Smith (@KeithSmithNBA) April 9, 2019
“Everybody that’s active will play and I think it’s a great opportunity,” Stevens said. “We always talk about this, there’s 82 games and your time always comes. These guys inevitably that have been a part of our rotation, they have a little bit more responsibility. For the guys that haven’t been a consistent part of our rotation, it’s a great last chance to make sure you’re doing everything you can to be ready when called upon.
“We talked about this morning, Semi Ojeleye is hit and miss through the first couple of the game of the playoffs last year and all of sudden he’s starting games five through seven in the Milwaukee series. Everyone has to be ready when the playoffs come because everything else is out the window. It’s who gives you the best chance of winning.”
Brad Wanamaker, who averages nine minutes and 3.5 points per game, will get steady playing time in the regular season finale and he has shown throughout the season to be ready to try to contribute at a moment’s notice.
“He’s a pro. He’s been and done this forever,” Stevens said. “It’s not like it’s his first time through the NBA. He’s been a pro for a long time. He knows what he needs to do to be successful and be ready. I have ultimate confidence if we put Brad Wanamaker in a playoff game that he’ll be able to do anything that we need him to do.”
Stevens feels that tonight’s matchup against the Wizards is similar to last year’s final game of the regular season when the Celtics sat a majority of their starters and still beat the Brooklyn Nets.
Stevens acknowledged the win was important with the Celtics entering the matchup having lost four of five, and that it gave the team what everyone is looking for going into the playoffs: momentum.
“Everybody talks about how you’re going to feel going into the playoffs and all that stuff,” Stevens said. “We weren’t playing great (last year), but that game got our spirits in the right place even though it wasn’t our guys that were going to play the most playing. There’s always a tremendous opportunity, but also a great benefit.”