BOSTON When you're playing below-.500 basketball like the Boston Celtics (9-10) are, there's no such thing as an easy stretch of games.
But if there was, this would be it.
The C's play 7 games in the next 12 nights, with only two against teams with a winning record.
And those two, against Memphis and the Los Angeles Lakers, are both at the TD Garden. Boston's other five games are against Cleveland (8-11), Toronto (7-14) twice, New York (7-13) and Charlotte (3-18).
For the C's, looking ahead can be fatal if they're not careful.
"Those other games, we can't worry about them," Mickael Pietrus told CSNNE.com. "We have to worry about our next opponent; that's it."
He attributes the Celtics' winning four of their last five games as a testament how the team's one-game-at-a-time mantra works.
"We're not looking ahead of any teams," Pietrus said. "The only team we think about, is the team we're playing. That's all."
In addition to trying to avoid looking past opponents, the Celtics must also recognize the need to put teams away when they have the opportunity.
Boston's 88-87 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday was one of the few games in which the Celtics controlled the action most of the game but were unable to seal the deal down the stretch.
"We let our guard down," said coach Doc Rivers. "I told our guys, 'Think about down the stretch, the last five minutes, how many 'cute' plays we made.' You know? No-look passes, behind-the-back passes. And they got deflected and we didn't score on them. You lose games that way."
Which is exactly what they did, as Kyrie Irving scored the game-winning basket with 2.6 seconds to play.
Although the table is set for the C's to exact some revenge against the Cavs on Tuesday, payback is the last thing Kevin Garnett is thinking about now.
"You don't get a consolation of anything; any loss is bad," Garnett said.
Especially when it's against teams that on paper at least, are beatable.
"We can beat anybody in the league when we play the way we know how to play," said Chris Wilcox. "When we don't, anybody can beat us. We can't take any team for granted."