BOSTON – As much as the Boston Celtics want to keep their focus on the moment, there’s tremendous value in not forgetting lessons learned from the past.
Among the biggest for this team is how a handful of bad losses last season played a major role in their inability to secure home court advantage through at least the first round of the playoffs.
Boston was one of four teams to finish with 48 wins last season. After the tie-breaking rules were implemented, the Celtics wound up as the fifth seed before eventually losing in the first round to the Atlanta Hawks in six games.
It was something that the players were well aware of in Friday’s 96-88 win over Charlotte -- one of the teams they were tied with last season -- and it’ll be just as important on Sunday when they face the Miami Heat.
Although the Heat (9-18) have had their struggles this season, the Celtics know beating all opponents, playoff contenders are not, has great value if they are to have the kind of season they believe they’re capable of having.
“Every win matters,” Boston’s Terry Rozier told CSNNE.com. “It’s gonna have an effect when the playoffs hit. They’re going to look at these games.”
Boston (14-12) is a little more than a quarter of the way through the season, and they can already look back on a few games that they know might come back and haunt them if they’re not careful.
The missed lay-up at the end of a 107-106 loss at Houston; a 99-96 loss at Oklahoma City that featured late-game miscommunications that proved costly; a 106-105 loss to a struggling New Orleans Pelicans squad; just to name a few.
That was why they went into Friday’s game against Charlotte viewing it as a must win for them.
“We needed the win, no doubt,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder following the win. “We felt like this is the one we needed and had to have. We just came out and tried to take care of business.”
And that becomes especially critical in the Eastern Conference which is shaping up to be yet another tight finish for teams looking to secure one of the last couple of playoff spots with home court advantage throughout at least the first round of the postseason.
“Whenever you look back on last season it came down to games like (Friday’s win over Charlotte) that we dropped,” Crowder said. “And we just try to take care of business with games like this, especially in our house.”
Because as the Celtics know all too well, what happens now can have major ramifications on what happens in April and May for what they hope will be a long postseason journey.
“You always want to start the playoffs at home,” Rozier said. “We try to take it one game at a time, knowing that if we take care of business every game it’ll give us the best chance of being where we want to be when it’s all said and done.”