WALTHAM, Mass. -- A Boston Celtics staffer walked into coach Brad Stevens' office Tuesday morning with a printout that detailed all the possible playoff scenarios in the traffic-jammed Eastern Conference. It turned out to be a waste of ink and paper.
"I said, ‘Would you mind throwing that away?'" Stevens said before the team's afternoon practice on Tuesday. "Like, it’s a headache to even try to figure out."
Stevens, a card-carrying member of the "focus on what you can control" club doesn't see any benefit to obsessing over what might happen on the final day of the regular season. His singular focus is on trying to snap his Celtics out of a 5½ -quarter funk that robbed his team of the chance to control of where it lands in the playoff seedings.
A win alone over the Miami Heat in Wednesday's regular-season finale will not be good enough to secure Boston home-court advantage in Round 1. The Celtics would need some help from the Atlanta Hawks as well. Otherwise, Boston will be packing its bags and heading on the road as the fifth or sixth seed.
Celtics fans will be scoreboard-watching on Wednesday when the Hawks visit the Washington Wizards and the Charlotte Hornets host the Orlando Magic. Here are the updated playoff scenarios that likely reside in a recycling bin at the Celtics' practice facility:
Boston will be seeded ...
• 4th: if Celtics and Hawks win
• 5th: if Celtics and Hornets lose OR if Celtics win and Hawks lose
• 6th: if Hornets win and Celtics lose
Stevens wants his team to play better than it did during the second half of Saturday's loss to Atlanta and avoid the sort of meltdown that occurred when Charlotte went on a monster second-quarter run on Monday night. Those two losses ended Boston's hopes for the third seed. While Celtics players had shifted their attention to securing the No. 4 spot, Stevens clearly prefers his team gets back to what made it so successful this season -- particularly, putting an increased focus on defense -- and he'll be fine with letting the seeds fall where they may.
"I think my level of concern or the amount of thoughts that are going through my head are probably the same regardless of the outcome," Stevens said when asked about those consecutive losses during the playoff pursuit. "I’m interested to see how we respond. This has been a good group as far as responding goes. I’m interested to see how we respond to [Monday's] game [at Tuesday's practice]. Then certainly [Wednesday vs. the Heat]."
Celtics forward Jae Crowder, who has struggled recently while recovering from a high ankle sprain that sidelined him for eight games last month and a recent illness, said the team obviously prefers to open the playoffs at home, but he doesn't believe home-court advantage is imperative to the team's success.
"It don’t matter. You've still got to go win games on someone else's court," said Crowder. "That's what the postseason is all about. Of course we want to start off the postseason at home, but it's not the end of the world if we don’t. We'll go handle our business and try to put together a good series and try to take care of business that way."
Echoed Isaiah Thomas: "I don’t think we [need home court], but it would help. We need to do everything we can to control that. It starts with a win [Wednesday]. Hopefully we can get fourth place and have home-court in the first round because it would definitely help us."
As you can probably guess, Stevens isn't losing sleep over where the Celtics play.
"I’m not going to concern myself with things I can’t control," he said. "Hey, I think no matter what, in the playoffs, you can’t be a dud on the road and expect to win a playoff series. And you can’t be good but inconsistent at home and expect to win a playoff series. You just have to play well in the games that you have. Again, these guys, our team, as bitter a taste as we may feel from [Monday] night, have put [themselves] in a great position all year with their play. These guys have really done a lot of good things. And we’ll look forward to playing whoever we play, wherever we play, when that time comes."