The Celtics completed the biggest comeback in the NBA this season on Wednesday night, rallying from 26 points down to defeat the Miami Heat 98-88.
A victory like that in front of several Celtics legends from the 1966, 1976 and 1986 championship teams should have only produced good vibes in the Boston locker room. But Jae Crowder couldn’t help but be a little disappointed in the aftermath. When it came to playoff seeding, he and his teammates got no help from the Atlanta Hawks, who fell to the Washington Wizards. That result and a series of seeding tiebreakers cost Boston a chance at the No. 4 seed and home-court advantage in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
“We did all that for that? That was my reaction,” Crowder said of his reaction to Boston’s No. 5 seed. “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 shared a similar sentiment about having to open up the playoffs on the road against a talented Hawks squad after going all out against Miami.
“Yeah, I told Danny [Ainge], ‘Man, why didn’t you say something during the game? We could have subbed everybody out.’ Thomas said with a smile. “Nah, I said that as a joke, but I mean it is what it is. It happened to work out that way, and we’re confident in ourselves that we can win a playoff series.”
After a pair of ugly losses to the Hawks and Hornets and a tough opening half against Miami, Celtics coach Brad Stevens was not concerned about where his team finished in the standings. Instead, he was pleased the Celtics got back to playing winning basketball.
“We just needed to find ourselves; that was my biggest thing,” Stevens said. “And what was why in the third quarter I stopped really caring about what the score was; it was just like ‘Yes. Thank you. Now we have a chance to move forward.’ Because you have to – and it can change quickly. Your mindset can change quickly, the way that you’re playing can change in a period of a half because you make certain choices that you can control that – they again may make shots and you might miss them, but at least you’re doing everything physically possible to stop them from having success and we did that in the second half.”
With Boston earning its second playoff appearance in his three-year stint as head coach, Stevens sounded ready for the challenge posed by the Hawks.
“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.”