BOSTON -- Who needs rest when you have momentum?
With just a day in between closing out the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Philadelphia 76ers and starting the next round against the Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics are looking forward to a quick turnaround.
The Celtics won Game 7 against the 76ers on Saturday evening. They will fly to Miami Sunday morning and play Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals on Monday night.
Its a quick turnaround, but I kind of like it that way, Pierce said following the Celtics clinching 85-75 win. It keeps us in rhythm, it keeps us playing. Were an older team so we dont want to sit around for too long. You know we like the fact that we usually go right into it. We have tomorrow off, well probably watch some film, go over scouting reports, shootaround on Monday, and thats it.
The Heat have not played since Thursday, when they knocked out the Indiana Pacers in Game 6. They have had time to return home, get settled in, and begin preparations for the next round.
It is a luxury the Celtics dont have -- and they dont mind.
I prefer it myself, said Ray Allen. We get back to business. We have a day to rest and then were back out there playing. At this point, everybodys going to be what theyre going to be. Youre going to be tired or youre going to be fatigued or whatever it is. We have to continue to take the rhythm that we have and now we have to change it and reconfigure how we think defensively and what we run offensively. The series changes. We dont have a lot of time, but we have veteran players that know how to adjust to a new series.
CLEVELAND – Brad Stevens won’t know until shortly before tip-off tonight if he will have to make another lineup change.
Amir Johnson, whose right shoulder was injured in the Celtics' 111-108 Game 3 win on Sunday, is questionable for tonight’s Game 4.
“It’s better for sure,” Johnson told CSN this morning. “Yesterday, it was hard to lift. Today, I can move it all around. In shoot-around, I’m going to get a couple shots, see how it feels and go from there.
He added, “it’s definitely going to be a game-time decision. I’m going to go and shoot around, just to get a feel. And then for the game-time, I’ll shoot around some more, see how it feels and take it from there.”
Healthy or not, Johnson being with the starting group is far from a given.
The 6-foot-9 veteran has consistently been the first starter subbed out and usually winds up playing the fewest minutes.
In Game 3, two of his backups – Kelly Olynyk (15 points) and Jonas Jerebko (10 points) – shined brightly.
Here are some other highlights from the Celtics’ morning shoot-around.
THOMAS UPDATE: Isaiah Thomas met with a hip specialist on Monday, according to Stevens. “Still collecting information,” said Stevens, adding, “We’ll wait and see or we’ll discuss second, and third, and fourth, and fifth opinions.”
Thomas injured his right hip March 15 and later re-aggravated it in the first half of the Game 2 loss Friday. Less than 24 hours later, he was deemed out for the remainder of the playoffs.
He was replaced by Marcus Smart in the starting lineup and Smart responded with a career-high 27 points in Game 3, which included seven made 3’s which is a career-best mark as well.
BOUNCE-BACK CELTICS: The Celtics winning Game 3 sent shockwaves throughout the league, especially coming on the heels of a 44-point home court drubbing at the hands of the Cavs. “If you’re in sports long enough you’re going to have clunkers,” Stevens said. “You’re going to have games that don’t go your way. And our guys took seriously the idea of responding and just playing the next possession as well as they could.”
ROZIER HOMECOMING: The second-year guard grew up in nearby Youngstown, Ohio (75 miles southeast of Cleveland), so you can expect he’ll have a decent contingent of fans at tonight's game.
While he’s all-in for the Celtics, the same is not true of his friends and some family members.
“My family does a good job of staying on my side except for my one younger cousin,” Rozier said. “She loves LeBron.”
Bob Ryan has seen a lot of Celtic victories over the years, and he thinks the C's upset of the Cavs ranks with the best of them.