BOSTON -- With a combination of their win Wednesday night over visiting Detroit and the Philadelphia 76ers' loss in Charlotte, the Boston Celtics punched their postseason ticket. Go ahead and keep that champagne on ice, however, as even coach Doc Rivers was unaware his team ticked that check box on its season to-do list.
"It’s funny, I didn’t know it," Rivers said. "But my coaches did. When I was walking [into the locker room], I think [two assistant coaches] both grabbed me and said, ‘Hey, we made the playoffs!'"
Not that the accomplishment was ever really in jeopardy. Clinching seemed inevitable despite Boston's up-and-down play this season.
"There was never any doubt in my mind, or anybody in the locker room, or in the coaching staff, that we wouldn’t be in the playoffs," Jason Terry said. "It’s good to be solidified, but we’ve still got some work to do. Good practice time coming up here for the next week and a half, and then it’s on. The show begins."
The Celtics still are jockeying for position on the Eastern Conference playoff ladder. With Milwaukee falling to visiting Minnesota on Wednesday, Boston is 2½ games up on the eighth-seeded Bucks. Both Chicago (2-game lead on Boston) and Atlanta (2½-game lead) potentially are catchable, but those teams have favorable end-of-the-season schedules that should help them fend off the Celtics.
Even Terry admitted it's looking like a first-round matchup with the Knicks or Pacers, whoever emerges in the No. 2 spot (those teams are currently separated by a half game).
"Where do you want to look at: New York or Indiana? There’s only two. That’s where it’s at," Terry said. Asked if that meant he was confident the Celtics wouldn't slide to the eighth spot (and a first-round matchup with the top-seeded Heat), Terry added, "I don’t see it. If somebody else does, that’s on them."