Christmas day was fantastic. You couldn't ask for a better defensive performance from our guys stepping up in Paul's absence. However, I don't think you can take that one game and assume that this team is going to steamroll over the competition for the rest of this trip and the rest of the year. There will be ups and downs and these next couple weeks are still primed to include some of the downs.
Take the following factors into consideration.
- The team just rallied around each other for an inspirational win over a team that is easy to get up for (one of the few East competitors and the team that knocked them out of the playoffs and beat them once already this year).
- They are on the road a lot in the coming weeks.
- Many of those games are easy to look past.
- Tony Allen is playing out of his mind right now. Even putting the snarkiness aside, you can't expect him to keep this up for long.
- In case you missed it, yes, Paul Pierce is still out.
- Every time KG falls on his head or Rondo bounces off the ground, we collectively catch our breath. Even when "healthy" these guys get banged up and beat up.
Now consider that in the past year and a half, this team has been pretty streaky. They've gone on monumental streaks split up by rough patches. Could we see this team stumble and drop a few games to the likes of the Clippers, Warriors, and/or Raptors? Maybe.
But then again, maybe not.
One thing going in their favor is the maturation and consistency of Rajon Rondo. Something that was missing for large portions of last year.
Also, if you listen to Doc, there's a chance that this team could remain focused enough to get through some of the "we have to play this game because it is on the schedule" type of games. via Scott Souza
"I love our team right now in that they have not been happy with half our wins and the way they performed," the coach said. "Last year's group, I can tell you, was nowhere near that. Our goal is not to win games in a row this year. Our goal is bigger than that."
"Last year's team reacted to winning streaks," Rivers said. "They flexed their muscles. They got big over winning streaks. That's taking your eye off what you're playing for and the process.
"This team has been very good at that. The difference this year is a winning streak doesn't change the way they play. Last year, you could visibly see it (get worse). I kept saying we were playing awful. You could see it building. This year, you can see they are unhappy when we don't play well and win anyway. Last year, they were just happy we won the game. That's a big difference."
Of course that is the better perspective anyway. It matters not if we win every game on this road trip, as long as we are getting better and preparing this team for the playoffs. Learning how to play with each other and how to react in all situations. (Of course, I'd also argue that this makes for a great chance to get some of the young players more time, but that's a topic we've already been over.)
Garnett is also saying all the right things. via the Herald
“You know, you can’t pick and choose when you play great. You play good against Orlando, you’ve got to play good (against) Philly. You’ve got to play good against Indiana. You’ve got to play good against the Clippers. You’ve got to play good against the Lakers. You’ve got to be consistent with what you’re doing in order to sustain that presence.”
The team won't win the rest of their games, and they probably won't sweep this road trip. But they are practicing how to win. Just like shooting a basketball, the more you do it, the more it becomes like second nature. They are getting better. Something that should give the rest of the league pause.