OKLAHOMA CITY — Keeping an eye on the moment and not necessarily the building momentum that has come with success, has been good for the Boston Celtics.
With all the success they have had of late despite the injuries and assortment of setbacks, there remains a strong sense of humility with it all.
That's because in their minds, their play of late which includes five straight wins and a 14-4 record without all-star Rajon Rondo, is about nothing more than a talented team doing what talented teams are supposed to do - win games regardless of who is on the floor.
"We're working hard," said Kevin Garnett. "We haven't given in to the (expletive) ass critics. We're working hard, we're grinding. We're showing our character. Our coaches are grinding themselves, and this team is just that."
The C's come into today's game against Oklahoma City currently tied for fifth in the Eastern Conference with Atlanta, and just a half game behind Chicago for the fourth seed - and the home court advantage that comes with it.
Boston's success of late has not come as a total shock to head coach Doc Rivers.
"We just put them in there and hope they do well, honestly," Rivers said. "When they're in, their job is to do what we do. Doesn't matter who's on the floor."
That across-the-board approach will indeed be a factor against the Thunder who come in having won four in a row.
Here are some other factors to consider that may come into play today as the C's try to sweep the regular season series with the Thunder.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR: Boston's second unit has been a difference-maker of late, and that certainly was the case when these two met back in
November. The C's second unit outscored their Oklahoma City counterparts by a decisive 35-13 margin in Boston's 108-100 victory.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Avery Bradley vs. Russell Westbrook: Bradley's ability to not just defend at a high level but also contribute offensively, will be challenged against Westbrook. While most see Westbrook as an explosive scorer, he is emerging as an under-rated defender who can be disruptive to a team's offense with his strength, quickness and ball instincts.
PLAYER TO WATCH: Without question it has to be Jeff Green. He is playing his best basketball of the season which he hopes to continue doing against his former team. When the two met earlier this season, Green had 17 points off the bench.
STAT TO TRACK: Oklahoma City's high-scoring offense is fueled in part by their ability to get out and score in transition. This season, the Thunder average an NBA-best 16.9 fast-break points per game. In Boston's 108-100 win over Oklahoma City on Nov. 23, the Thunder were were limited to just nine fast-break points.