The Boston Celtics are, by any account, on a serious roll since the All-Star break. They’ve won six of their seven games, and the lone defeat was a three-point squander on the road versus the team with the best record in the NBA.

So leave it to one of those media types to focus on something the Celtics haven’t done in that run, right?

It’s an inescapable fact, however, that the Celtics have failed to fall behind by double figures after reconvening from recess two weeks ago.

This is actually worthy of note, because they dug themselves double-digit holes in nearly half their games before the break. The Celts built their early season success on spectacular comeback victories, returning from 26 down to beat Houston and from 17 behind to get past Golden State – both at TD Garden.

“I think one of the things is that trends come and go throughout an 82-game season,” said Coach Brad Stevens, whose team made the expected official by clinching a playoff berth with its 117-109 win Thursday in Minnesota. “Our falling behind, and then our second quarters, was what everybody was focusing on, and we’ve been better at not falling behind and still pretty good out of the gate in the second quarter. We just need to keep getting better for 48 (minutes).”

Stevens is happy, but not satisfied. Coaches don’t have the capacity for the latter. It’s not in their DNA. So what he said next is the equivalent of a regular person in the throes of euphoria.


“I’m encouraged by our level of play at different times,” Stevens said. “It’s still not, you know, as consistent as we probably want, but the other teams are playing, too, so that has something to do with that.

“But I am encouraged with how we’re playing. We just have to keep doing it. These two games at home are really tough.

“We are getting in a little better rhythm with guys, and one of the things that I really appreciate are the Monroes and Theises and Baynes, because they’re all sacrificing a little bit of time to make this work. And without those guys’ willingness to do that, it would be difficult.”

The reserves have become a major weapon. The Celtics’ subs outscored their Timberwolves counterparts 42-20 on Thursday, and with Marcus Morris and Terry Rozier serious scoring threats and Marcus Smart adding his personal brand of defensive chaos, they are far more than just placeholders for the starters.

Asked the reason behind the rise, Smart said, “Trust.”

“We’ve got a lot of trust, you know, and a few of us have been together for a while now,” he continued. “I’ve been two or three years with Terry, so we kind of built that bond. Then Morris comes in, and his personality fits in with everybody. He gets along. And it’s another guy that has a lot of heart and is not going to take anything from nobody.


“So we’ve got guys like that that are scary to play against, and that’s kind of how we want it to be. We want teams to fear us when we come in as a second unit.”

What really makes opponents wobbly is going against a team that’s willing to do the basics on every possession.

Stevens was talking about the playoffs earlier when he said, “I think the whole adjustment thing is overblown. I think it’s, do you get back on defense? Do you play with great intensity? Do you rebound the ball? It all goes back to all that stuff. Now, there are small tweaks that each team makes, but at the end of the day, it’s do you do those things well?”

He also mentioned the importance of ball movement, and the Celtics have been far better of late with their cutting, picking and passing. The number of times they forced the Wolves to scurry around the court, only to see a wide-open Celtic drill a 3-pointer was clearly deflating to the hosts.

It’s the kind of thing that can make Stevens ecstatic.

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