Celtics clinch seventh playoff seed

Celtics clinch seventh playoff seed
April 13, 2013, 11:00 pm
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ORLANDO, Fla. — With their playoff position locked up following Saturday's 120-88 drubbing of the Orlando Magic, the Celtics can now truly look ahead to the postseason.

Yes, there are two regular season games remaining - Indiana on Tuesday and at Toronto on Wednesday.

But those games will be as much about building towards the postseason, as they will be about prepping for the actual game.

The C's clinching the seventh seed has essentially been the most likely landing spot for them for weeks now.

Now that it's official, Boston can start to hone in on what will likely be their first-round foe, the New York Knicks.

The Knicks need one more win or an Indiana loss to lock up the No. 2 seed and make a Boston-New York first round matchup official.

The only way the Pacers can screw that made-for-TV matchup up, is to win their last three games and have the Knicks lose their final three games - two scenarios that seem unlikely.

"Now we know," Rivers said of the C's as a seventh seed which is a first for the franchise since the NBA went to a 16-team playoff format in 1984. "We were preparing, anyway. We're just going to continue to prepare for the playoffs."

And that preparation involves ensuring his main guys - Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, specifically - get plenty of rest between now and the postseason.

Rivers said both will see limited minutes, adding that they will each likely sit at least one of the two remaining games. Jason Terry, who was held out of Saturday's game to rest, will likely not play against the Pacers on Tuesday according to Rivers.

Keeping guys healthy and improving the team's execution will be two of the primary goals for the Celtics to close out the regular season.

"Our focus will be on what we need to run in the playoffs," Rivers said.

But when it comes to giving players time off, the benefits of that have to be weighed against the potential downside of not having enough time to develop a nice rhythm.

"That's going to be on the coaches," said Paul Pierce who along with Garnett, did not play in Boston's loss at Miami on Friday night. "We got the next six, seven days. We can probably start preparing on Monday as far as who we'll see in the playoffs."

Indiana and Boston play on Sunday. If the Knicks win, they clinch the No. 2 seed and the Pacers will be No. 3.

For much of his career, Garnett has fiercely resisted coaches wanting him to take time off from games to rest.

These days, Garnett has embraced the reality that rest can be vital to having the kind of postseason run that he and many of his teammates have envisioned.

"Rest is always good," Garnett said. "It's never anything wrong with rest, especially when you need it, especially when you're trying to prepare for things to come.

Garnett added, "we all know what the issues are; we know what's ahead of us. Rest is always good. it doesn't mean that we're not in a rhythm just because we're not playing some of these games or we're not preparing with our team."