WALTHAM You never want to spot any team points, especially in a playoff game.
But if you're the Boston Celtics and you just so happen to find yourself on the short end of a start-of-the-game run by Philadelphia, that might not necessarily be a bad thing.
Each of the first four games in this series began with the eventual loser on a 5-0 spurt or better.
If anything, it serves as yet another reminder that fast starts may not necessarily prove fruitful in achieving the only thing either team truly wants -- a victory.
"That's just what it is," said Celtics coach Doc Rivers. "A 9-0 lead in the first quarter, that's nothing; it really isn't. Having a bigger lead in the third quarter the way we had (in Game 4), is better. But the early lead you got a whole game to play still. When I'm watching games, people make so much, too much of a big deal about that stuff."
Such early deficits seem to provide the necessary focus for teams on the short end of it to re-group, recover and from there, surge ahead to eventually take control of the game.
It also speaks to how the Celtics, whether it's the first quarter or fourth, have shown a propensity to ease up when they jump out to a big lead.
"A little bit of it is human nature," said Celtics guard Ray Allen. "When you go up like that, you become complacent. It's just human nature. I hate it for us, to be that way."
It's the kind of thing that doesn't necessarily creep up on you, either.
Allen recalled a couple of empty possessions in Game 4.
"We took the easiest shot available as opposed to working our offense," he said. "they went down, got call after call, got to the free throw line, scored without the clock moving. Now the momentum was on their side."
And so went the game. If Game 5 goes along with the pattern in the first four, the Celtics will get down early and rally back for the win.
"You can't depend on that being a pattern," said Celtics forward Paul Pierce. "We just have to be consistent at what we do; use our home crowd to our advantage. We lost our last game at home. We gotta play better at home this time around."
But if they get behind early, not to worry.
The C's have seen that before in this series.
And the ending -- a Celtics victory -- would make the early struggles more than worth it.