Evan Turner knows a thing or two about thriving in the postseason as an underdog.
Back in the 2012 playoffs, Turner started for the No. 8 seeded Philadelphia 76ers, as they upset the top-seeded Bulls and pushed the Celtics to seven games in the second-round.
This year’s Celtics will start the postseason in a similar spot. They are listed as a a 19-1 underdog to win their first-round matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
“We have nothing to lose, really,” Turner said at practice Friday. “We’re playing with house money. It’s going to be hype. There’s going to be two great environments involved. You go to Cleveland, their fans are crazy, then you come back to Boston, and their fans are even crazier. So, it’s going to be fun.”
Turner is one of just five players on the Celtics that will head into the series with postseason experience. Teammate Avery Bradley is the only player who saw action with the team during their last playoff run in 2013. He echoed Turner’s message about playing without pressure.
“I always say it,” Bradley explained, “You’re at your best when you’re out there just playing basketball, not thinking. In the playoffs, you can tend to think a lot, because of the scouting reports and all the information you have to know. But at the end of the day, you’re just out there playing basketball.”
Boston’s 24-12 run in the team’s past 36 games has this team confident heading into Sunday’s series opener. Celtics coach Brad Stevens believes his team needs to keep things simple in order to help his team pull off an upset against the East favorites.
“If we play well, then we’ll have a chance,” Stevens said. “So my focus has to be on us playing well and, part of that, for me, is simplifying the game for all of us. Myself included. I don’t need a thousand thoughts going through my mind. I’ve been working the last couple days just to get everything on one page.”
The preparation will continue on Saturday afternoon with one more practice before the team heads to Cleveland for Game 1.