Now it’s official.
The Boston Celtics will be going back to the playoffs for the second year in a row following their 107-100 win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
The victory evened the head-to-head series with the Lakers this season.
But more important than that, Boston (45-32) has punched its ticket to the postseason where they hope to build off of last season’s appearance in which they were swept in the first round by the eventual Eastern Conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
“That’s big for us,” Boston Isaiah Thomas told Comcast SportsNet’s Kyle Draper following the win. “Get the monkey off our back a little bit. We’re just playing these games looking forward to the future. We’re staying in the moment at the same time.”
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has been reluctant to say much about Boston’s return to the playoffs because until tonight, it wasn’t a done deal.
“That’s what you want obviously, to give yourself a chance,” Stevens told reporters. “And so, the only way you get a chance is if you make the playoffs. It’s been a very focused group.”
Stevens said the only time he has heard his players talk about the playoffs has been when they were aked about it.
“They’ve been pretty focused on the task at hand,” he said.
And that is to finish the season out playing well to eventually secure the highest possible playoff seeding.
Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Sunday’s game.
The farewell tour for Bryant hasn’t had a ton of memorable performances, but certainly fans had to be giddy about the way he played in his final game against the Celtics in which he finished with a game-high 34 points.
As dominant as Bryant was, Thomas was his equal for most of the game. He finished with a team-high 26 points, 13 of which came in the second quarter alone.
He looked and played very much like he did prior to missing eight straight games with a high ankle sprain. Crowder had 22 points, five rebounds, four assists and five steals.
His versatility has become irreplaceable for the Celtics, showing the ability to fill whatever role he’s asked to play. Filling in for Avery Bradley (left team for personal reasons), Turner had 17 points on 7-for-12 shooting with four rebounds and four assists.
He’s one of just 10 players averaging a double-double this season, and at 21 years of age he’s also the youngest. Once again Randle’s talent was on display as he tallied a double-double of 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Celtics 3-point shooting
Boston connected on just 26.7 percent (8-for-30) of its 3-pointers against the Lakers. This continues to be one area that the Celtics have not shown much growth in this season.