It’s official: the Boston Celtics finished the season as the second-best team in the Eastern Conference. What a pipe dream that felt like back in January when the Celtics were struggling to keep their heads above water. Now, that dream is a reality, and the Celtics will have homecourt advantage through the first two rounds of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
However, the only thing on Celtics fans’ minds seems to be the Brooklyn Nets. Heading into Boston’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies, many were questioning whether or not they should try to manipulate their seeding in an attempt to avoid Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in Round 1. But while people everywhere worried about potential matchups, there was one group who wasn’t scared in the slightest: the Celtics themselves.
After the game, head coach Ime Udoka was asked about the team’s mindset going into their tilt against Memphis. He said that they were always just worried about themselves and that it’s nice to be able to focus on two teams heading into the playoffs:
We were worried about ourselves, getting our guys some reps. And obviously, we’ll start to dig into Cleveland and Brooklyn. We haven’t seen Cleveland in a while and Brooklyn, obviously, is who they are. We played them recently. But it’s good to at least have some clarity and focus on two teams.
The Milwaukee Bucks rested most of their core players on Sunday, getting clobbered by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the process. That opened the doors for Boston to climb up to two, and that’s exactly what they did. With the Grizzlies getting their stars some rest, Jayson Tatum exploded for 31 points, leading the C’s to a big-time win.
Another player who performed well against Memphis was Payton Pritchard, who dropped in 12 points off the bench. Pritchard said that the C’s aren’t “trying to dodge” anybody and that their thought process going into Sunday was just winning.
We were just saying like, whoever we play, we’re gonna play. We’re gonna go out today and not try to lose. It’s another game. Try to win. We play to win games. It’s a mindset.
Pritchard has been on fire as of late, and in the final game of the season, he managed to overtake Grant Williams for the team’s three-point champion. Williams led the team in three-point percentage all year long, but on the final day of the season, Pritchard swooped in and stole it from him.
Grant Williams led the Celtics in 3-point shooting all year.— Sean Grande (@SeanGrandePBP) April 11, 2022
From October until this morning.
Payton Pritchard caught him on the final night of the season.
2021-22 CELTICS - 3-POINT SHOOTING
1. Payton Pritchard 41.22%
2. Grant Williams 41.09% https://t.co/ZqdI51PVA3
Lastly, a similar sentiment was echoed by veteran big man Al Horford. Horford was asked whether or not he believes Boston sent a message on Sunday night. His response? Absolutely:
I think so. I think it’s pretty clear. We obviously understand what’s ahead, but like I said, it’s about us and putting ourselves in the best position that we feel like we can be. And we’re ready, man. We’re ready to go.
Boston’s confidence levels seem to be at an all-time high heading into the playoffs, which is perfect timing. From the youngsters to the vets to the coaching staff, everyone on the roster is supremely confident in their ability to take down anyone.
The Nets and Cavaliers square off on Tuesday, April 12, and the winner of that game will play the Celtics in Round 1. Boston’s first playoff game will be on Sunday, April 17.