The Boston Celtics’ inconsistent run continued as they suffered a 118-115 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night keeping them in fifth place in the Eastern Conference. But Kyrie Irving and coach Brad Stevens are more focused on the upcoming playoffs rather than the 10 remaining games in the regular season.

The Celtics trail the 76ers, who are 3rd in the East by four games, while the Indiana Pacers are just one game ahead in fourth place. But Irving was clear that he will miss some of the upcoming games in order to be well rested ahead of the playoffs.

The point guard is currently not too worried about the seedings and admitted he will be “happy” as long as they make the post-season, which at the moment is all but certain.

"I’m definitely taking some games off before the playoffs,” Irving said Wednesday morning, as quoted by the Boston Herald. “Makes no sense, the emphasis on these regular games, when you’re gearing up for some battles coming in the playoffs.”

“As long as we get in there,” he added. “I don’t think our focus is in seeding, that’s pretty clear. As long as we get there, I’m happy.”

Kyrie Irving
Kyrie Irving #11 of the Boston Celtics celebrates after Jayson Tatum scored against the Phoenix Suns at TD Garden in Boston, Dec. 19, 2018. Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Stevens has a few injury concerns going into the playoffs with Al Horford struggling with a sore knee and Aaron Baynes injuring his ankle during the loss to the 76ers. The Celtics head coach admitted that seeding is important going into the playoffs but he is not willing to risk the health of the players for home court advantage.

“I think this is the bottom line: If we choose to rest Al in a game, or Kyrie in a game, then we have other guys who should be able to step up and play well,” Stevens said. “We need everybody playing here — ultimately that’s part of it. We’ve done that, at times, all year."

“But it is the seeding thing certainly comes into play because you’re fighting for, at least, potentially homecourt in the first round. But we’ve dug ourselves out of there with opportunities past that, if we’re fortunate enough to advance, so I think, ultimately, it’s more important how we’re playing,” he said.

“You know, I haven’t talked with (Irving) as much about it, but that would be in line with what we would have been thinking up to this point as well,” he explained. “It’s a fine line because of where we are, positioning and everything else. But, at the same time, I think playing well and health, if you can be doing both going into the playoffs, that’s a pretty good thing.”

Irving and Stevens were also on the same page when asked about Marcus Smart’s ejection during their loss to the 76ers after the shooting guard shoved Joel Embiid. Both were disappointed with the player and made it clear that he needs to take responsibility and think of the team.

“He knows. He took responsibility for it,” Irving said. “He knows how much of a big piece he is for us. We need him out there in terms of his smarts and him being out there. We don’t want to make any excuses. Those things can’t happen in terms of Smartie being ejected, especially when we’re in an environment like this. But we talked about it, we squashed it, and now we move on.”

“Now, I’m disappointed in Marcus. Like, we need you,” Stevens added. “Like, Baynes is already out. We need him to be in the game. No matter what happens, we need that to happen.”