When it comes to the ups and downs of an NBA season, Brad Stevens has managed to “stay in the moment” and not let those turbulent times sway him one way or another.
So as the Boston Celtics inch closer towards a return trip to the playoffs, why should anyone expect that to change?
Stevens is well aware of his team being on the cusp of a return trip to the postseason. That doesn’t mean he has to partake in the hype leading up to it.
“You have to earn those things,” Stevens said of a trip to the postseason. “I’ll talk about it if we’re fortunate enough to eventually do it.”
At this point, the Celtics -- 43-32 after Thursday night's 116-109 loss in Portland -- are part of a still-congested quartet of teams hoping to fill playoff slots No. 3-6. The C's current two-game skid has dropped them to the back of that pack, at No. 6.
But with seven games remaining, including tonight's matchup against Golden State, the Celtics will have ample opportunities to make their way back up the conference standings in the final weeks of the season.
And while the East has been dogged out for years as being inferior to its Western Conference brethren, there’s no mistaking how more challenging things are this season for teams looking to get out of the Eastern Conference and advance through the playoffs.
“The East is clearly better (than it has been),” Stevens said. “Everybody that’s in the mix has had to improve just to be in the mix. So I feel good about the progress, but I still feel we have a long way to go.”
Complicating things somewhat is the franchise’s desire to start the team’s playoff ticket sales, which they say will begin next week.
“I understand the team and marketing and tickets have to do their job and prepare for any scenario,” Stevens said. “I get that.”
But all that talk does little for what really counts: Winning games.
“[Playoff talk] has nothing to do with what we’re trying to do,” Stevens said.