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The Nightmare After Christmas, Part II?


With the win over the Sixers Wednesday night, the Celtics improved to 23-4 on the year going into their Christmas Day game in Orlando.

The record is quite impressive, especially if you consider the injuries the C's have dealt with in the midst of it: Kendrick Perkins (every game), Shaquille O'Neal (nine games), Jermaine O'Neal (19 games), Delonte West (22 games), and Rajon Rondo (7 games) have all missed time.

They have soldiered through, but let's not forget that last season at this time the Celtics were 22-5. The issues didn't come until after Christmas. Perhaps the C's drank some bad eggnog?

After the win over Orlando last season, the Celtics went 13-16 over the next 29 games - capped off by a stinker at home against the Nets on Feb. 27.

If the panic button hadn't already been hit, that certainly was the time to do so. The "maybe we're just bored of the regular season" talk really picked up, and the Celtics finished slightly about .500 from that point forward.

You know the rest. But should Celtics be worried about a similar slide this season?

Not yet anyways.

"The only reason we went on a slide, no one wanted to hear that last year during our whole stretch, we had our whole team hurt," Doc Rivers said. "It's not like we start playing bad, we start playing injured. We really never really got healthy completely. And then we made a conscious choice to start shutting bodies down. If we can get healthy I'm not concerned by it. But if we cant, then yeah I'm concerned by it."

The Celtics do have injuries this season, but three important names, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen, have avoided the injury bug.

For those reasons, the Celtics have won 14 games in the row.

But can they stay focused on the task at hand? Glen Davis thinks so.

"We have to just stay focused," he said. "I think we need to get healthy, get some guys back, and stay focused. [Last year] I think we kind of drifted in another direction, as far as winning. We lost some games, had to bounce back."

Getting guys back will be the first step. Jermaine O'Neal missed another game tonight with the flu, while other members of the team are dealing with more serious issues. Regardless, the C's have weathered the storm.

"Everybody's been hurt," Marquis Daniels said. "It's just a full team effort. We fight through all kind of controversies just getting the job done. Everybody is coming in and doing great for us. Guys are playing out of position. Just got to bite the nail and find a way to win every night."

Daniel attributes last season's slide to lack of execution -- "Simple as that," he said.

But on this 14 one-game winning streak, the Celtics don't get caught up at looking ahead, or looking in the past.

"I don't worry about that," Ray Allen said in regards to last season. "We're just at the point where were getting better, trying to get better everyday. That's my focus. Sometimes the bad stuff that goes along with what goes on throughout the season, you welcome it because that's what makes us stronger, more resilient."

There was a lot of "bad stuff" to learn from last season, so if the C's are stronger because of it, it makes sense that they'd be one of the best teams in the league going into the new year.

Whether it stays that way remains to be seen. 

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