Boston Celtics are undeterred by the NBA Finals showdown with the Golden State Warriors


Boston Celtics overtake Miami Heat in Game 7 to cap grueling East final – “Feels like it always should have been –

SAN FRANCISCO — The Boston Celtics are back in the NBA Finals for the first time in more than a decade, but freshman coach Ime Udoka said that was no cause for celebration.

“We don’t hang a banner [for that] here,” Udoka said, referring to the Eastern Conference win. “It’s a bigger picture. I think the guys’ mindset changed pretty quickly.

“Enjoy it. Guys enjoy this and you have that time off. Even [Sunday] Night in the media sessions [after Game 7]and obviously the guys in our dressing room are already talking about what’s next and the big picture.

“We didn’t come to that. You enjoy it and you can move on to the task at hand fairly quickly.”

That task, of course, is finding a way to beat the Golden State Warriors, who won three championships from 2015-2019 and reached the NBA Finals five straight years before missing the playoffs in each of the last two seasons.

As a result, Golden State enters this series with 123 games of collective NBA Finals experience. Boston, on the other hand, does not have a single player on their roster who has appeared in a Finals game.

However, Udoka said he wasn’t concerned about the experience gap, citing the experience he and his assistant coaches have in the Finals, including Assistant Ben Sullivan’s title win with the Milwaukee Bucks last year and Udoka himself winning a title , having coached several playoffs with the San Antonio Spurs and the playoff experience of his players.

“I can say since I’m there I know what’s going on and we’ve shared some of those stories before, as have some of the other coaches on my staff who’ve been there and won championships,” Udoka said. “So from that standpoint, it is what it is. We will have some meetings with the group and talk about these things. But I think in general we have a very mature group, especially with our younger guys. Al [Horford] and Mark [Smart], and our veterans are always very level headed and keep us updated on this. And besides, I’m not worried about Jayson [Tatum]jaylen [Brown] and the younger guys who haven’t been on this stage yet. Like I said, they’ve reached the Eastern Conference Finals multiple times and made that move, so we know what’s ahead.

“We know what we’re here for and I don’t think any of our guys are impressed or intimidated by the moment. We understand what it is. We know the opponent in front of us. And for us, “as always, this year is like always. Going out on the road, not at all worried about it. We’re really looking forward to it. Not much anxiety or nervousness. We’ve got this time that we’re going to take.” Advantage as far as rest and preparation go, and be ready for Game 1.”

As part of that recovery and preparation, the Celtics are also getting the opportunity to allow Robert Williams III to treat the left knee pain that plagued him during the playoffs and give Smart a breather from a variety of ailments, including his right leg Quad, ankle and foot.

Williams missed three games against the Bucks in the Conference Semifinals and Game 3 against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals after sustaining a fractured bone in his left knee — the same one he underwent meniscus surgery in late March, which left him to miss the end of the regular season and the start of Boston’s first-round series against the Brooklyn Nets.

Udoka said the rest would be beneficial for Williams, but that — as the coach previously said — Williams will have to manage the knee throughout the remainder of the playoffs.

“Rob is fine,” said Udoka. “He’s good. He felt good. His minutes were low, he only played 14 minutes [Game 7 against Miami]. We tried to keep him down when we could. That’s good for him, of course, but so are the days off. So he should be feeling better overall. I am being checked today and will continue to be treated and rehabilitated to reduce swelling and regain some of the pain and mobility. And so it’s going to be an ongoing thing, as I mentioned before. He’s been there pretty much every day during the playoffs.”

Udoka added that Williams, in particular, should benefit from the expansion of the NBA Finals, with two days off between each game except for Games 3 and 4 in Boston.

“[He] should feel better with the time in between, especially with those two days off between games instead of playing every other day. And I think going back to the Milwaukee series, we had played 17 days straight every other day and that’s going to take a toll on you coming out of surgery. We’re keeping his minutes down and getting him feeling better again, obviously that’ll help us in the future.”

As for Smart, who missed Games 1 and 4 against Miami — first with a metatarsal sprain, then with an ankle sprain — Udoka said he’s doing fine after playing difficult minutes in Boston’s Game 7 win over Miami .

“Marcus, there are no concerns about that,” said Udoka. “The swelling is what it is. It will dissipate over time.

“The pain tolerance thing, he can obviously play through a lot and he did [in Game 7] and played difficult minutes.”

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