Karalis: Celtics’ progress is frustrating and slow, but it’s still progress

(Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images)

If there’s a theme song for this season, it’s Get Here (If You Can) by Oletta Adams. Just picture her standing at the fourth spot in the standings singing... 

“You can reach me by starting Time Lord, you can reach me with offensive boards
You can reach me with a switching scheme, you can reach me with some zone
You can reach me playing Tacko Fall, sit on your timeouts or use them all
I don't care how you get here, just get here if you can.”

And so the Celtics, facing an explosive but not very good Minnesota Timberwolves team, managed to climb out of their own filth and folly to scrape together an overtime win, taking another small, sloppy step towards the overall goal. 

“I didn’t think our starters played great out of the gate ... I don’t think our full starting five has played as well as they want,” Brad Stevens said after the game. “But I think obviously Tristan (Thompson) has given us a lot off the bench. I think Grant (Williams has) been good off the bench. Payton (Pritchard) made a couple big plays. So we were going to mix it up”

Thankfully for the Celtics, Jayson Tatum was able to get himself going to drop a 53-piece to bail them out. They ended up winning four out of seven games in this crucial homestand, neither seizing an opportunity to separate themselves in the standings nor tripping their way further down. 

The Celtics, perhaps the unluckiest team in the league, are actually fortunate when it comes to the standings. Throughout this all, they are still only a game out of fourth. Somehow, with 19 games left, nothing has changed in the standings. 

What is changing is how the Celtics look and how they react. They were beaten up by the New York Knicks but still won. They soiled themselves against a bad team again but they managed to win that game too. It’s the most incremental progress, but it’s progress nonetheless.