SAN FRANCISCO — The Boston Celtics could also be again within the NBA Finals for the primary time in additional than a decade, however first-year coach Ime Udoka stated that’s no trigger for celebration.
“We’re not hanging a banner [for that] right here,” Udoka stated, referring to successful the Eastern Conference. It’s a much bigger image. “I feel guys’ mindsets have flipped fairly shortly.
“Enjoy it. Guys relish that, and you’ve got this day without work. Even [Sunday] night time within the media classes [after Game 7], and clearly with us within the locker room, guys are already speaking about what’s subsequent and the larger image at hand.
“This is not what we got here to do. You get pleasure from it and transfer on fairly shortly to the duty at hand.”
That job, after all, is discovering a option to beat the Golden State Warriors, who received three championships and made 5 straight journeys to the NBA Finals from 2014-19 earlier than lacking the playoffs every of the previous two seasons.
As a consequence, Golden State enters this collection with 123 video games of collective NBA Finals expertise. Boston, then again, would not have a single participant on its roster that has appeared in a Finals recreation.
Udoka, nevertheless, stated he is not involved concerning the expertise hole, pointing to the expertise he and his assistant coaches have in Finals, together with assistant Ben Sullivan successful a title with the Milwaukee Bucks final 12 months and Udoka himself successful a title having coached in a number of Finals with the San Antonio Spurs, and the quantity of playoff expertise his gamers have.
“I can say, being there, I do know what is going on on and we have already shared a few of these tales in addition to a number of the different coaches on my workers which were there and received championships,” Udoka stated. “So from that standpoint, it’s what it’s. We’ll have some conferences with the group and speak about these issues. But I feel, generally, we have now a really mature group, particularly with our youthful guys. Al and Marcus, and our veterans are all the time very level-headed and conserving us in line so far as that. And then I’m not actually frightened about Jayson, Jaylen and the youthful guys that have not been on this stage. Like I stated, they bought to the Eastern Conference Finals a number of occasions and took that step, so we all know what’s in entrance of us.
“We know what we’re right here to play for, and I do not assume any of our guys are awed or intimidated by the second in any respect. We perceive what it’s. We know the opponent in entrance of us. And for us, as all the time, this 12 months it has been enterprise as normal. Going on the street, not fazed by that in any respect. We’re actually trying ahead to it. Not quite a lot of anxiousness or nervousness. We have this time that we’ll benefit from, so far as relaxation and preparation, and be able to go by Game 1.”
As a part of that relaxation and preparation, the Celtics can even get an opportunity to permit Robert Williams to handle the left knee soreness that is plagued him all through the playoffs, and for Marcus Smart to get a breather from quite a lot of illnesses up and down his proper leg, together with his quad, ankle and foot.
Williams missed three video games in opposition to the Bucks within the convention semifinals and Game 3 in opposition to the Miami Heat within the Eastern Conference finals after struggling a bone bruise in that left knee – the identical one he had meniscus surgical procedure on in late March that brought on him to overlook the top of the common season and the start of Boston’s first spherical collection in opposition to the Brooklyn Nets.
Udoka stated the remaining can be helpful for Williams, however that – as he is stated beforehand – Williams should handle the knee all through the remainder of the playoffs.
“Rob’s all proper,” Udoka stated. “He’s good. He felt good. His minutes had been low, solely performed 14 in [Game 7 against Miami]. We tried to maintain him within the decrease portion if we may. Obviously, that is helpful for him going ahead, however the days off as properly. So he ought to really feel higher generally. Getting checked out at this time and can proceed to get his remedy and rehab and with a view to get swelling down and a number of the ache and mobility again. And so it will be an ongoing factor like I discussed. He’s day-to-day just about all through the playoffs.”
Udoka added that Williams, particularly, ought to profit from the spread-out nature of the NBA Finals, with two days off between each recreation besides Games 3 and 4 in Boston.
“[He] ought to really feel higher with time in between, particularly with these two days off in between video games, versus enjoying each different day. And I feel, going again to the Milwaukee collection, we had performed 17 days straight each different day, and in order that’s going to take a toll on you coming off a surgical procedure. We maintain his minutes down and get him again to feeling higher, clearly that may profit us going ahead.”
As for Smart, who missed Games 1 and 4 in opposition to Miami – first with a mid foot sprain, then with an ankle sprain – Udoka stated he is nice after enjoying heavy minutes in Boston’s Game 7 win over Miami.
“Marcus, there is no concern about that,” Udoka stated. “The swelling is what it’s. That will dissipate as time goes by.
“The ache tolerance factor, he can clearly play via rather a lot, and he did that [in Game 7] and performed heavy minutes.”