Which way?


Not convinced that the Celtics are rounding into form after three straight lopsided home victories? Well, the next nine games should tell us a little something about this team before the postseason. Colleague Peter May sets the table:

Where did this come from?

Actually, it's been here since the 2009-2010 schedule was released last summer, but now that it has finally arrived, it looks positively portentous. The Boston Celtics face eight straight games against Western Conference teams -- all but one of them over .500 -- then have an Easter Sunday visit from LeBron and the boys to cap a nine-game you-know-what from you-know-where.

Think Doc Rivers will have a pretty good handle on his team by the time he sits down to carve the ham Sunday night after the Cavs game? Then again, maybe by that point he'll need an official carver.

In what normally would be seen as a positive, only three of the nine games are on the road -- the first three, starting Friday night in Houston and continuing with a game Saturday against the hottest team in the league, Dallas. Then there's the annual visit to Salt Lake City on Monday. But these Celtics have defied logic by having a marginally superior road record (22-12) than home record (21-12), almost unheard of for a division leader and purported title aspirant at this point of the season.

"Houston to Dallas to Utah, I don't think I've ever done that," said Rivers, who called the road trip "inconvenient," which puts it mildly. "Not since I've been here. That's a strange one, but you have to play them somehow, somewhere, and they sneaked them in there. That's part of it. You've just got to do it."

After the Utah game, there follows a truly attractive (for us, anyway) set of home games: Denver, Sacramento, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Houston and the Cavaliers. How many probable wins are in that nine-game stretch? One -- the homer against the Kings on March 26. Every other game is a toss-up at best.

"There's nothing we can do about it," Rivers said. "We've just got to go out and play."

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