WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens is rather amused by all this fuss about his team being in first place in the Atlantic Division.
Chris Forsberg/ESPN Boston
Jordan Crawford had his left hand wrapped at practice, but downplayed the injury.When a reporter admitted that being in first place after 20 games doesn't get you very far, but that it's still something, Stevens smiled and offered, "I would agree with your first assessment. I would just say that that’s right -- it means nothing. [The Celtics are also] pretty close to last place, so ... it doesn’t mean a lot. It really doesn’t. I don’t’ think we should gauge ourselves on it, nor should we focus on it, because it’s very fleeting if you do that."
The Celtics entered Thursday with a ½ -game lead in the East and would be the fourth seed if the playoffs started today.
Later, when a question came noting how the Celtics had "kept their heads above water" during a crazy November schedule, Stevens paused for a moment before noting, "Everybody is really optimistic. This head above water thing -- we’re 8-12."
Don't misconstrue, Stevens likes the direction his team is headed in. He's simply not ready to celebrate having a .400 winning percentage, regardless of what it gets you in a ramshackled Eastern Conference.
"We have to be careful how we gauge improvement," said Stevens. "I think we made a lot of strides during that six-game losing streak. Because I thought it revealed some things we could work on, it revealed some things that we could potentially address should we come back around to a tough stretch again. There’s just a lot that that we can build off. I think the biggest thing is, I said it earlier, is that mindset, that attitude of being accountable and doing your job. And just growing everyday. Just really embracing that and not concerning ourselves with the record or where we stand."
A handful of quick hits from Thursday's afternoon session at HealthPoint:
CRAWFORD'S WRIST TAPED UP: Jordan Crawford had his left wrist taped heavily for Thursday's practice. It didn't prevent him from navigating the whole session. Said Stevens, "I don’t know if he fell on it or if he hit it on the floor. He had a little bruise, but he practiced full today. He came in and said, ‘I’m ready to go. Let’s go.' It doesn’t look like anything that’s going to hold him back." Asked about the injury, Crawford said simply, "It’ll be all right."
PRACTICE TIME, FINALLY: The Celtics didn't hold a formal practice session Wednesday (though many players were in the gym) while enjoying the luxury of two days off before Friday's visit from the Denver Nuggets. It's only the third time this year that Boston has had a two-day break before a game, but the December schedule (12 games in 31 days) is much more forgiving than November (18 games in 30 days). Stevens hopes his team can maximize offday workouts. "You [feel] like you could come in and do a 30-minute film session, then practice for an hour and 15 minutes [like the team did Monday], because before you didn’t want to overdo it. Because it was so many games and so short of time. And we’ve got some back-to-backs coming up, we’ve got some stretches that are certainly very challenging -- the teams are very challenging that we play. It is nice to have a day or two in between."
WALLACE NOT AWARE OF POOR EAST ... WELL, EXCEPT FOR SOME OLD FRIENDS: Gerald Wallace was asked if he's paid attention to just how poor the Eastern Conference has been this season. "I don’t really know how the East has done. Like I said, once I leave here, I don’t pay attention to basketball," said Wallace. But he was aware of the struggles of the teams in New York, including his former squad in Brooklyn. "I know Brooklyn and New York are real bad right now," added Wallace. "I don’t really know what else is going on. Honestly, the East is getting off to a slow start. It’s early. A lot of changes were made." Wallace said he's not surprised by Brooklyn's struggles with a new coach, new players, and a new system. He thinks they'll turn it around when healthy.
LOOSE BALLS: Kelly Olynyk remained out of practice with a sprained right ankle and there's no update on his progress. He observed the session from the sidelines, chatting with assistant coach Ron Adams as the session opened to reporters. ... Jared Sullinger's father, Satch, a former high school hoops coach, observed practice from the balcony outside Danny Ainge's office.