Celtics thinking playoffs, not payback on Bobcats

Celtics thinking playoffs, not payback on Bobcats
March 15, 2013, 2:45 pm
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WALTHAM, Mass. — The Boston Celtics won't lack for motivation heading into Saturday's game against the Charlotte Bobcats who have already beaten the C's twice this season in three meetings.

But with the regular season winding down, the C's are more focused on prepping for the playoffs than payback as they try to continue their strong run of success at home.

Still, it's hard to imagine that the Celtics have completely divested themselves from Tuesday's 26-point loss at Charlotte.

"No matter what our excuses are, they beat us two games," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "And one game they beat us soundly; one game we kind of sputtered down the stretch. No matter what you say to them, they beat us twice."

Boston's first loss to the Bobcats came less than 24 hours after a thrilling 118-114 triple overtime win over Denver. In Tuesday's loss, the Celtics elected to give leading scorer Paul Pierce the night off. Based on the team's across-the-board struggles that night, some of Pierce's teammates may have thought Rivers gave them the night off as well.

Although the Bobcats (14-50) are in the midst of yet another horrific season, their success against the C's will provide them with a serious confidence boost that should make for a closer game than some might anticipate.

Boston forward Jeff Green said he hasn't given the game much thought since Tuesday night, in part because the Celtics played another game the following night, a 112-88 win over Toronto.

There's no time machine or NBA reset button, so dwelling on games of the past, win or lose, is pointless.

Instead, Green and his Celtic cohorts are more consumed by the team's present-day success and promise for the future for what they hope will be a long playoff jaunt.

"We all are very eager (for the playoffs)," Green told CSNNE.com. "Our coaches, our assistant coaches; they're really eager to get everything started. Playoffs is what everybody wants. We just have to continue to play good, continue to build on each game and get ready for the playoffs."

And that means winning lots of games which may not only get the C's into the playoffs, but potentially result in a sixth straight Atlantic Division crown.

Atlantic leader New York has been hit hard lately with injuries, resulting in their once-comfortable lead in the division shrinking. New York (38-25) has lost three in a row and their lead is down to just one game over the Brooklyn Nets (37-26) and 3.5 ahead of the Celtics.

"I'm sure if we hung Atlantic Division banners around here we'd be looking a lot more closely at it," Pierce said. "But right now, we're just floating under the radar, trying to win as many games as possible, play well going into the playoffs."

Said C's coach Doc Rivers: "We would like to win the division, but I'd much rather win a world championship if I had my choices. So that's the key. You want to get healthy and be right and give yourself the best opportunity to win in the playoffs."

And that means beating any and everyone on your schedule - even the Bobkitties.

"The thing about the NBA," Pierce said, "You learn to play and forget. It's not like it (the loss to Charlotte) was a playoff series. We're just trying to build, trying to play better."