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Reality check: the Celtics are still good-not-great (and that's ok)

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The margin for error is still relatively low.

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Can we just rewind and go back to enjoying Friday night's victory please?

Number one in defense! Running up the standings! Bring on the world!

Then Sunday night happens and we all get a little reality check.  Not unlike the game against the Dallas Mavericks it was a reminder that when this team isn't on top of their game for close to 48 minutes, they can lose to anyone.

No team is on point for the full 48, not even the mighty Golden State Warriors.  Every team has nights when things aren't clicking or someone's banged up or the team is tired from travel or whatever.  But the great teams have what Brad Stevens likes to refer to as a large margin for error.  They can have so-so games and still do enough to secure the win.

The Celtics are not a great team yet.  They have a small window most nights and if they play their best they are more than capable of winning.  If they miss that window, well, the opposite can happen.  Missing a key player (like say, Marcus Smart) could be the difference.  Getting a few bad calls (much to Tommy's dismay) could be the difference.  The opponent getting fired up for a game to prove their pride (oh, hi Nets) could be enough of a difference.  Little things can throw this team off and they aren't good enough to simply push past that (at least not every night).

They are a good team, however, and anyone that remembers the start of last season or the team from 2 years ago can take comfort in that fact.  This team isn't nearly as bad as they looked in the first half of last night's contest.

They do play very, very good defense - perhaps even great defense.  They have a deep team that can (at their best) come at you in waves.  The team has bought into Brad Stevens' system and many times simply out-works the opponents with a college-like all-out effort that many NBA teams simply don't want to match.

However, the thing about the NBA is that the best talent typically wins in the long run.  I'll spare you another lecture about stars winning Championships because you know how I feel about all that.  To me it still seems like this team is another move (or draft) away from reaching that next level.  And for the moment, that's not a terrible place to be.

If anyone has the assets to get something done, it is the Celtics.  If anyone has the odds to do well in the draft over the next few years (despite the setback of the Nets winning last night) it would be the Celtics.  This ship is cruising along in the right direction and you never know when the next gust of wind is going to propel us further along than we thought.

The development process is long and requires patience.  There will be peaks and valleys and as fans it is hard not to get wrapped up in both extremes.  But it is probably best to take a cue from our stoic leader Brad Stevens.  Take the good with the bad and focus on the continual process of improvement every day.