The Celtics have the best record in the NBA at 22-3 but there are a lot of people that would put an asterisk next to that record as they haven't gone on any extended road trips or played any of the top teams in the West on their courts. The Celtics are about to begin their first road trip out west. While only one of the 3 teams they face on the trip is in the top 8, they still will be playing 4 games in 5 nights and if the Celtics could go 4-0, or even 3-1, on this road trip, it would go a long way toward silencing the critics who say that their record is the result of a soft schedule.
First up, the Celtics face the Kings in a very loud Arco Arena. Here they face Ron Artest and the Kings who they embarrassed earlier in Boston. The Kings will be looking for revenge and Ron Artest, who wasn't much of a factor in the first game will be playing for pride. Both teams will be rested after 2 days off for Christmas, but the Celtics will be travelling and that could affect their performance.
In the second of back to back games, the Celtics will face the Sonics on TNT. In Seattle, they will face Delonte and Wally for the first time since the trade. They would love nothing better than to beat their former team. Wally has been playing well for the Sonics lately averaging 20 points over his last 3 games. Delonte has been battling plantar fasciitis. The Celtics will also have to face super rookie Kevin Durant who they coveted before the draft. The Celtics will not only be on the road for this one but playing in back to back games.
After a night off, the Celtics will be facing their third team in 4 nights. Utah is a strong team that has been slumping but are still very dangerous. They are 2-8 in their last 10 games, but are 9-2 at home so are a very tough team on their home court. Rondo will be facing one of the best young PGs in the league in Deron Williams in this game.
Finally, the Celtics will face the Lakers in their second back to back of the trip and the 4th game in 5 days. The Lakers were embarrassed on the parquet in their first meeting this season and like the Kings, they will be looking for payback. They are 8-2 in their last 10 and have won 3 in a row. This will be the toughest matchup of the trip. The Lakers are playing very well and the Celtics will be tired. They will need to maintain focus and really want this one in order to win it.
Of the 4 teams we face, only the Lakers are among the top 8 teams in the West. But, with 4 games in 5 nights and travel in between, there will be plenty of adversity. A successful trip with 3 or 4 wins will silence some of the critics but there will be some who will point to the loss to the Pistons as proof that the Celtics haven't proved themselves against the league's elite and won't be ready to crown the Celtics until they beat the Pistons and the Spurs. On the other hand, any more than 1 loss on this trip will bring up a lot more questions about this team. It's going to be an interesting week.