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Celtic Sunrise: Beware the trap games

When an easy win isn’t as easy as it seems.

NBA: Toronto Raptors at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics have won 15 straight basketball games and took down the mighty Golden State Warriors. So having done all that, they should be able to take care of the worst teams in the league, right?

Well, the Hawks have one of the worst records in basketball and after such an emotional win over the Warriors, it had the formula of a perfect trap game. To the point where I called it on twitter.

Sure enough, the Celtics found themselves down 15 points at the end of the first quarter. Thankfully they were able to figure things out and pull out the win. But that doesn’t entirely excuse the flat way they started off.

Brad Stevens has always preached a moderation mantra. Don’t let the valleys get you too low and don’t let the mountains get you too high. So he’s doing his best to not let his team get too carried away with this short term success.


Brad Stevens and his Celtics are riding a 14-game winning streak into Atlanta, a streak that indicates a well-oiled machine will show up tonight to Philips Arena. Stevens, however, views the streak through very a different lens.

“We haven’t played well enough to consider this win streak to be valid, in my opinion,” he candidly told at Saturday morning’s shootaround, ahead of a matchup with the Hawks.

There have been plenty of flat quarters and halves during this streak. They’ve just been that good for the rest of the game to make up for it. If you string any 3-4 of those bad quarters together, and you’ll get a loss, regardless of the opponent.

The Celtics’ upcoming schedule doesn’t look that hard. The Mavs have just 3 wins on the year. The Heat are under .500. The Magic have lost 4 straight. The Celtics should be favored in each of those games but they could very well lose any of them too.

Winning covers over any number of problems and it is the coach’s job to make sure that the players focus on continual improvements and long term goals. Don’t be so distracted by the results that you lose sight of the process. Don’t fall into the trap.

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