BOSTON (CBS) – In year two of the Adam Silver era, one of the biggest changes the NBA's new commissioner has made is extending the league's All-Star break. What was normally a five-day respite has been nearly doubled in length for most teams, to encourage more recovery time for overworked players in midst of the season.
One of the beneficiaries of the lengthy break this year is none other than the Celtics. Following a one-point win over the Atlanta Hawks on Feb. 11, the team will have eight full days to let those good vibes linger before returning to action on Feb. 20 out west against the Sacramento Kings.
Due to a interesting quirk in the schedule, Boston also got three days of rest before the Hawks game this week, meaning they will have played just one game over a 12-day stretch from Feb. 8 to Feb. 20.
Most of the Celtics roster will be heading on vacation or visiting family in their hometowns during their getaway, but head coach Brad Stevens ensured he instilled a strong message with his team before they went their separate ways on Wednesday night. After winning seven of the team's past 12 games, Stevens hopes the foundation his squad has started to build stays intact.
"I just told them, 'Don't lose the momentum of what we've worked towards, but get off your feet and get some rest.' And I think that's something that we all have to do. We have a lot of room to improve.
"This should give you good, a little bit of energy, when you come back to work. It's always tough to leave on a break or any period of time, or even a five-day break, on a close loss. So a close win can make you feel a little bit better about traveling and getting back together and getting back on the plane and doing it all again, come next Wednesday."
Celtics second-year big man Kelly Olynyk will be using the added rest to ensure he is able to fully recovery from a badly sprained right ankle. The seven-footer has missed three weeks with the injury, but hopes to return to action for the team's west coast trip next week.
"This was definitely worse [than last year's severe ankle sprain that forced him to miss nine games]," Olynyk said Wednesday night. "This time I couldn't even walk or put pressure on it for four or five days. Last one was a little bit better in terms of being able to get around and stuff."
Olynyk should give a nice boost to a what's left of the Celtics' roster following the NBA trade deadline on Feb. 19.
Boston has 33 games remaining in the second half of the season, the most of any team in the NBA. With a potential playoff push looming, some rest and good health will do them a world of good as they attempt to stay relevant in the wide-open Eastern Conference over the next two months.
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