Celtics clinch playoff spot despite injuries

Celtics clinch playoff spot despite injuries
April 4, 2013, 10:15 am
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BOSTON -- It took longer than it has in years past, but the Celtics locked up a playoff spot with only seven games left in the regular season.

They have battled through injuries, starting the season without Avery Bradley, losing Rajon Rondo, Jared Sullinger and Leandro Barbosa for the season, and missing Kevin Garnett since the late March.

The Celtics will not enter the playoffs under ideal circumstances. Most teams like to firm up their postseason roster in April, but the C's have been forced to improvise based on whoever is healthy and available to play. After acquiring four new members since February, it can be challenging to establish rhythm and consistency.

That doesn't shake the Celtics' confidence, though. They entered the season believing they could contend and will take that same mindset into the postseason.

"We knew we were a playoff team before the season started, despite the injuries and everything," said Paul Pierce. "Right now we just want to focus on continuing to play well going into the playoffs."

The Celtics currently hold the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference following their win over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night. They are two games up on the eight-ranked Milwaukee Bucks in the loss column and three losses behind the sixth-ranked Chicago Bulls.

Over the next two weeks the Celtics will face the Cleveland Cavaliers, Washington Wizards, Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, Indiana Pacers, and Toronto Raptors (in that order), knowing every game is important to prepare for the playoffs.

"I'm confident in our coaches," said Bradley. "I know they'll get us prepared. Not only them, but our leaders. They're going to make sure everybody knows what they're doing when they get on the court."

The Celtics have been a work in progress all season. Now they will look to prove they have progressed into a postseason threat.

"It's hard, but at the end of the day we know how to play Celtic basketball," said Bradley. "That's moving the ball and playing the right way. So we'll be fine, no matter who's on the floor."