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Looking ahead for the 6-4 Boston Celtics

Boston still has 72 games to play.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Denver Nuggets Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off Monday’s tough loss to the Denver Nuggets, you may be thinking, “hey, this isn’t what I signed up for! This team is supposed to be good and not, in fact, bad.” Instead of telling you to relax and buckle up for a long season that will be full of both highs and lows, I’m here to tell you that there are more games to be played both in the short and long term.

Boston’s entering a quick rough patch as they continue through their road trip. Although they’re playing the 2-7 Phoenix Suns next on Thursday night, the fun stops there for a little while. The next night, the Celtics will make a trip to Salt Lake City to take on the Utah Jazz in Gordon Hayward’s first game back since signing with the Boston Celtics back in July 2017.

If you remember, this is what happened the last time the Celtics played in Utah:

Utah has stumbled out of the gate so far amidst high expectations (stop me if you’ve heard that one before), so they surely will come with their best punch in a statement game versus “Good choice, Gordon” Hayward who left them in free agency last summer. On the other hand, as the Celtics have dropped two winnable games in a row to playoff teams, they’ll be looking out to prove that “Good choice, Gordon” is completely unironic.

On Sunday, the Celtics travel to face off against the Portland Trail Blazers, another team with a big chip on their shoulders. After getting swept last year in the first round, the Trail Blazers have jumped out to a 7-3 start, mirroring their early success last season. Boston usually plays well in the Moda Center, but this will be a tough challenge and a good measuring stick.

As much as I want to say that the next home game on Wednesday, November 14th will be an easy win, I thought the same about last year’s early season match up against the Chicago Bulls. The Celtics did not win, and this match up screams “IT’S A TRAP!” Sandwiched between contests against playoff opponents, Boston can’t afford to take its foot off the gas against Zach LaVine and the Bulls.

The following two home games feature rematches against the Toronto Raptors and the Utah Jazz. Again, the Celtics should probably look to take these games as seriously as possible, especially considering the stretch that follows. Against the Raptors, particularly, the Celtics need to avenge their early season loss. Boston fell apart in the 4th quarter, and against a team that they might face next May in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics need all the ammo they can get to have home court advantage. Winning the season series would go a long way to help with that.

NBA: Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Unfortunately for Toronto, they’ll be facing off against Fresh Cut Kyrie Irving as opposed to Frorie Irving of yester-month.

I hesitate to say the Celtics can relax after their match up with Utah in fear of drawing the ire of commenters, but the Celtics will finally enter a lower-stakes stretch of games. Their next games will include face offs against the Charlotte Hornets, New York Knicks, Atlanta Hawks, Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Pelicans (!) and Cleveland Cavaliers to close out the end of the month. Currently, those teams (excluding the Hornets and Pelicans) have combined for just 9 wins. That will be a big opportunity for Boston to rack up a few wins to pad their total en route to their 1st-seed goal.

The Celtics didn’t quite jump out to the hot start we expected, but it’s only been 10 games. They have plenty of time to blow our socks off against tough opponents while taking care of business against the teams they should beat. As you finish out the rest of the month, just remember one thing:

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