The Celtics will enter Tuesday's game against the Philadelphia 76ers just one game ahead of the surging Bucks (four straight wins) at the bottom of the Eastern Conference playoff ladder, but Boston is also a mere two games behind a pack of Chicago, Brooklyn, and Atlanta jockeying for the fourth seed. Let's start with a playoff glance with 24 games remaining:
Is Boston worried about the standings at the moment? Coach Doc Rivers swears he doesn't even look and, while captain Paul Pierce seems cognizant of his team's status, he downplayed putting too much of an emphasis on it at the moment.
"Right now we're just trying to play," said Pierce. "Right now you're trying to win as many games as possible and the seeding is going to be what it's going to be at the end of the year. I think if we get too caught up into it then you tend to lose focus. Right now we've got to take it one game at a time, try to do a better job on the road games as we are at home and see where the chips may fall at the end of the year."
That said, with games like Wednesday's visit to potential playoff foe Indiana looming, it makes it a little easier to maintain that focus.
"I think that the sense of urgency is there, so the focus is going to be there," said Pierce. "We understand this is the stretch run of the season. Every game at this point is a huge game for us, because it can be the difference between an eighth seed and a fourth seed. So with the stretch run -- coming down the stretch -- it's important that we play the best basketball possible right now with a sense of urgency."
With four of Boston's next five games on the road, where the Celtics have struggled this season, Pierce hopes that increased urgency can help the team gain some momentum away from the Garden, something that will be imperative for postseason success.
"I don't know, inconsistency probably, with the injuries, maybe lack of focus," Pierce said while detailing why the team has struggled on the road this year. "You never know. But the point is right now it is what it is and from this point forward we've got to get better if we're trying to look to do some damage in the playoffs."