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Saturday, December 21, 2013
Notebook: Trip home for Stevens

By Chris Forsberg

BOSTON -- Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens is headed home, but he doesn't expect the first 24 hours to be a particularly fun experience.

Stevens and the Celtics flew to his native Indianapolis after Saturday's 106-99 loss to the Washington Wizards with the Eastern Conference-leading Indiana Pacers waiting on the tail end of a back-to-back.

Stevens, who grew up a Pacers fan and spent 14 years as a coach at nearby Butler University, admits he's uncertain how it will feel to play inside the familiar confines of Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

"I don't know. Certainly, I’ll know a lot of people in the building," said Stevens. "It’s a wonderful place, a wonderful place to be raised. As much as you look forward to that for the time we’ll get to spend [with friends and family] afterwards, if anybody has watched [the Pacers] play, you know I’m not really looking forward to the game."

The Pacers are 21-5 and handed Boston a 97-82 loss at TD Garden in late November. Boston has played its best basketball since that point and, despite losing two in a row, players view Indiana as a chance to gauge their progress.

Stevens' players also understand how important that game will be to their coach, even as he attempts to keep the focus on the team he'll be coaching against.

"Bottom line is, it’s an Indiana Pacers game and they’re going to have a great fan support; they’ve got a great team," said Stevens. "You know I said this before we played them the first time: It’s the best Pacers team I’ve ever seen in my lifetime. And so that’s a great challenge that we have. As a competitor, you want to try to challenge yourself. And at the same time, the people that are going to be in that building that I know, and I’ll know a lot of them, are really special to our family and that whole state and that whole city is to us."

Stevens will get a chance to exhale a bit after Sunday's game. The Celtics plan to take three days off from Dec. 23-25. His family will stay in Indianapolis for a bit before making about a five-hour trek to spend Christmas with his in-laws. Stevens smiled as he noted, "My wife [Tracy] is happy."

A win against Indiana would certainly brighten the holiday season for Stevens as well.

A handful of notes after Boston's loss to Washington: