Celtics

Robb: West Coast trip will tell us where Celtics stand in NBA hierarchy

(Jessica Rinaldi/Getty Images)

It’s easy to forget that just over one year ago, the 2018-19 Celtics headed on their first long road trip of the season in November with the same kind of vibes that this group currently has. Kyrie Irving was playing terrific, carrying the C’s to four straight wins amid a 6-2 start before a five-game west coast swing. A 1-4 trip followed, and arguably should have been 0-5 given the fact it took a 20-point second-half comeback to squeak out a win against the lowly Suns in Phoenix.

Those Celtics returned to Boston essentially at the .500 mark, setting the stage for a season that was a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows over the final 69 games. Jayson Tatum, for one, hasn’t forgotten how much of a mark that trip left, bringing it up on his own when asked about the trip that lies ahead.

“Just stay locked in. Keep it going,” Tatum said of this team’s mentality. "Take it one game at a time. Last year when we went on west coast trips we didn’t do too well. So just trying to change that around and keep it up.”

The Celtics have a greater margin of error this time around after putting together a 9-1 start to the year. However, both squads had managed some quality wins over playoff teams the toughest test arrived. This will be Boston’s longest road trip of the year and it comes fast and furious with just five games in eight days.

Brad Stevens has this group clicking well on the road thus far (4-1) but they haven’t exactly faced a tough opponent yet outside of opening night in hostile territory. The Knicks, Hornets and Cavs look destined for the lottery and the Spurs win in San Antonio looks less impressive by the day after they dropped a home contest to the Grizzlies earlier this week.

Against a mix of playoff teams and potential contenders out west, the Celtics are eager to put their best foot forward as they try to keep their streak going without Gordon Hayward in the mix.

“I think we feel good. I think we’re excited,” Jaylen Brown admitted. 
“This will be a really good test for us. The