As pampering as a private jet may be, NBA teams still have to fly either to another city or home late after games, often practicing the next day in another time zone.
The Orlando bubble has erased those inconveniences. When the Celtics played Miami and Brooklyn on back-to-back nights last week, they still got to go back to the same hotel bed.
But Brad Stevens isn’t ready to write off the absence of travel as an advantage. Travel can have its advantages. It’s balanced by the fact that teams are in isolation, away from their families.
“I think this is an unbelievable setup by the NBA,” Stevens said before Sunday’s game against the Magic. “The basketball is special and the opportunity to be on the court is special, the inability to be home is tough. I understand your question from a travel perspective but just as traveling hotel-to-hotel and going back home for a week and being around your family — as much as that travel is difficult, there are other challenges that come with not traveling.”
Playing it straight
Don’t expect to see a lot of experimenting by the Celtics coach over these last three games against Orlando, Memphis and Washington – the latter 0-6 in the bubble after a blowout loss Sunday to Oklahoma City.
The Wizards also no longer have anything to play for. They have officially been eliminated, leaving Orlando with the eighth seed and the Nets with the seventh.
Not that it matters much to Stevens, who is in the fine-tuning phase at this point.
“We just want to play to your standards as well as we can,” he said. “I think I know our team, I know what we’re good at and I know what we need to do better. It’s just a matter of playing as well as we can and building that make the right next play mentality here over however long we get to be here.
“We made good strides thus far, I’m encouraged,” said Stevens. “This schedule has been very hard and that continues today. I think Steve (Clifford, Magic coach) does a great job and we played them right before the playoffs last year. I thought they came and prepared us for playoff basketball. I’m expecting a physical tough game today and that should only benefit us as we move forward.”
Walker ramping up
Kemba Walker’s minutes restriction was expected to be raised to a ceiling of 32 minutes Sunday, with his fellow starters likely to log more if the situation demanded it.
At this point, according to Stevens, remaining in game shape is more important than rest.
“I feel good about our shape now, but you have to keep it up,” said the Celtics coach. “As long as guys feel good they’ll play for now, because I do think rhythm and conditioning are important. It’s not like we’ve played 80 games and now it’s the playoffs. We’ve played five, so we have to continue to get our feel for each other and that level we need. I’m encouraged because we came in saying we’d play our best as we go along. That’s been the case in the last couple, but we’ll see if we can keep it up.”