Grueling stretch awaits Celtics

Grueling stretch awaits Celtics
March 13, 2011, 12:50 am
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By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

PHILADELPHIA Five games. Seven days.

Not exactly the schedule you want to see if you're the injury-riddled Boston Celtics, who are riding a two-game losing streak and holding on to the top seed in the East over Chicago by the slimmest of margins.

But if history - you know, like games played last month - is an indicator of future results, the C's are on the verge of a breakthrough.

This is the fourth time the C's have lost back-to-back games this season.

In the previous three instances, the C's reeled off winning streaks of 14, 4 and 3 games.

But there's one big difference between those hot stretches and where the Celtics are currently.

All that success came about prior to the Feb. 24 trading deadline, which is when the C's traded a third of their team while taking back just two players, Jeff Green and Nenad Krstic.

Shortly after that, the C's added Troy Murphy (he was bought out and later waived by Golden State), Sasha Pavlovic and Carlos Arroyo, who was waived by the Miami Heat.

With all the new faces, there's a lot of feeling-out, getting-to-know-each stuff happening on the court.

Because of that, no one - including the players - knows how they will handle the team's current struggles.

While the level of uncertainty is certainly high, the same can be said for this team's confidence despite their recent struggles.

And it's not just the core guys who feel strongly about the team's chances of turning things around quickly, either.

"You're going to lose some games over the course of the season that you probably shouldn't," Arroyo told CSNNE.com. "But this is a veteran team. A loss or two every now and then isn't going to make us panic. We know the big picture, and that's to win it all."

How they handle their current two-game losing skid will go a long way towards establishing whether they are in fact as good or better than the pre-trading deadline Celtics squad that had a relatively firm grip on the top spot in the East.

History is certainly on the Celtics' side, but they'll need more than that in order to reverse their losing ways.

At the top of the C's must-improve list certainly has to be their defense.

Boston still ranks among the league's leaders in just about every statistical category, there's no doubt that the defense hasn't been nearly as good since the Feb. 24 trade.

That's not a shock when you consider Kendrick Perkins, one of the league's best interior defenders, was part of the trade with Oklahoma City that sent Perkins and Nate Robinson to the Thunder for Green and Krstic.

"I'm not the one to make excuses, but we're in transformation here," said Kevin Garnett. "It's not an easy thing. Whatever we gotta do, we gotta fix it. I'm sure we will."

Garnett added, "Right now, we're in spurts. Me myself, I have to be more consisten with what I'm doing. We're all figuring it out on the go. But nonetheless, we still gotta get it done."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn