BOSTON - Bill Belichick was in the building Wednesday night to witness a 26-point comeback by the Celtics on their way to a 98-88 win over the Miami Heat.
So the Celtics had no choice but to channel their inner Belichick once they walked into the locker room and learned that despite the win over the Heat and a loss by the Hawks, the Celtics would remain the No. 5 seed heading into the playoffs.
The Heat are No. 3, the Hawks are No. 4, and as Belichick would say, it is what it is.
Even though Boston had won the head-to-head series against the Heat, the Heat had won the head-to-head series' against the Hawks and Hornets - both in their division - so they were the automatic division champion. Then it came down to better winning percentage in all games among the Celtics, Hawks, and Hornets . . . and here we are.
On one hand, the Celtics were proud to turn things around in the second half the way they did, but they couldn't help but shake their heads once they quickly learned in the locker room how the playoff picture shook out.
"We did all that for that? That was my reaction," Jae Crowder said with a laugh. "We laid it on the line like that, for nothing? We could have taken the L? I'm being honest with you. That was crazy. But it was very encouraging moving forward to get back to where we played and get the win. I think it will help moving forward."
Isaiah Thomas also had a bit of a lighthearted answer when asked if he was disappointed in how the seedings ended up.
"Yeah, I told Danny [Ainge], 'Man, why didn’t you say something during the game? We could have subbed everybody out.' "Nah, I said that as a joke, but I mean it is what it is," Thomas said. "It happened to work out that way, and we’re confident in ourselves that we can win a playoff series.”
It might be more important to the Celtics that they turned things around in the second half and finished the regular season off on a good note, rather than accepting their fate at halftime and going in with three straight losses.
It sure doesn't sound like Brad Stevens is thinking about what could been or what should have been.
"I mean, hey, you know what? We're in the playoffs," Stevens said. "We're playing a heck of a team. We're playing a team that had four All-Stars last year, two this year, that's playing their best basketball. What more could you ask for than a chance, right? So play there, play here, play anywhere - let's go compete."