Jan 17, 2012, 1:08 PM EDT
Focus on the next step and you will arrive at your destination.
No, it’s not one of Phil Jackson’s coaching mantras, it’s what the Celtics are doing in the wake of a five-game losing streak and a 4-8 record that has them looking up at the playoffs right now.
Focus on getting better and the wins will follow is basically what the Celtics told A. Sherrod Blakely of CSNNE.com this week.
“For us, we believe that we’re not that far away,” said Jermaine O’Neal, who had a season-high 12 points and 11 rebounds against the Thunder….
“There’s nothing positive about losing; that’s first,” Garnett said. “But in trying to make progress, you have to pull the pluses out of everything. We’re making progress.”
It is strange to have Garnett speak of moral victories, but he is right — the loss to Oklahoma City saw the Celtics play maybe their best overall game of the season. Their defense wasn’t great but it was better and held the high-scoring Thunder 4.3 points per 100 possessions under their season average. Rebounding and turnovers also have been issues, but again there has been improvement in recent games. There are legitimate questions about how good this team can be — it’s not winning a title as currently constructed — but it can be a lot better than it has played.
The rest of this week sees three beatable teams — Toronto, Phoenix and Washington. Games where the Celtics can get some wins and start crawling back up the standings. But in the end, the steps of improvement will bring the wins, it cannot happen any other way.
- Should NBA coaches get NFL style challenge flags? 17
- Report: Suns discussing trade possibilities for Eric Bledsoe 25
- Report: Sixers may look to trade for Amar’e Stoudemire at this season’s deadline 32
- Kevin Durant reiterates that rest was his reason for withdrawing from Team USA 9
- Kobe Bryant says he will not be same player as before, says he’s evolved into something equally good 25
- Report: Agent for Greg Monroe pursued sign-and-trade deals with five teams, including Thunder and Blazers 25
- Derrick Rose sits out another Team USA practice, not likely to start Wednesday 23
- DeMarcus Cousins practices with team USA Tuesday, says he’s 50-50 for Wednesday game 2