In light of the fact the Celtics won just 24 games last season, the current numbers are rather numbing. Twenty-seven wins in 30 games. Seven straight victories and 16 in the last 17 games.
Historically, the most striking stat thus far is 13.5 - the per-game scoring differential. Consider that the 72-win Bulls of 1995-96 officially had a 12.2 differential and you begin to see the significance. Whether the Celtics can maintain that pace over the long haul is open to question, but for the moment it's a number that has people in the league talking.
In terms of starts, the Celts are now tied for the fourth-best record before a fourth loss. The 1969-70 Knicks and 1990-91 Trail Blazers also won 27 before loss No. 4, while Philadelphia won 37 in 1966-67 and the Lakers won 39 in 1971-72 before snapping their 33-game streak and losing to Milwaukee. And that aforementioned Chicago outfit won 41 games before it lost its fourth.
In more local terms, how does a 44-3 mark grab you? That's the combined record of the Celtics, Patriots and Red Sox since the Sox fell to Cleveland in Game 4 of the ALCS. Since Oct. 16, the Sox are 7-0 and the Pats are 10-0.
``And all the losses are ours, right?'' said Paul Pierce with a smile. ``We've got to step up, man. We're letting them down.''
Doc Rivers shook his head. ``We're holding the city down again,'' he deadpanned. ``What can I say?''
The Celts passed last season's 24-win total while on their 4-0 western trip. But it's appearing now that even if they slack off a bit the rest of the way they should be able to surpass the 57-win total from the last two years combined.
``All that stuff is great,'' said Rivers. ``But that's not in our minds. We're just trying to get better and not look too far ahead. We know we still need to improve.''
But, as Houston's Shane Battier put it, ``Yeah, they're good. For my years in the league, you came in here and . . . let's just say you're much more concerned now.''
Fun for KG
After scoring 11 of the Celtics' last 16 points in a 97-93 win over the Rockets Wednesday night, Kevin Garnett was handed the game ball by co-owner Wyc Grousbeck and said he'd never received one.
Yesterday, KG continued to get wider recognition. He continues to be the overall vote leader in fan balloting for next month's NBA All-Star Game. Garnett has 1,527,963 votes - well ahead of LeBron James' 1,294,019. Kobe Bryant leads the West with 1,234,111.
Looking back on his tenure with the Celts, Garnett said, ``It's been cool. It's been a lot of hard work, but it's been fun. This is one of the best groups of guys I've been with. It's fun. If I could think of one word to describe it, it's just `fun' coming into practice every day.
``Every day you have a new challenge, and it stays interesting. It stays interesting around here. Obviously winning makes it a lot more better, but it's fun.''
The idea the Celts still can improve is one they are taking to heart.
``We have a lot of mentally strong guys,'' Garnett said. ``We have a lot of guys with experience. I think that's a plus, especially when you have guys who've been through different situations in this league.
``Doc said before the game that we're going to go through different types of tests every night. Not only are teams going to play their best, but we're going to learn something about ourselves each and every night. A lot of us have been in this league double digits, but that's right. We figure something out about ourselves and our team and our teammates every single night, and we gain confidence in that.
``So in the fact that you do have a combination of guys who have experience on top of still learning, it's almost like . . . it's a rare mix and it's working.''
Posey keeps shooting
Despite the fact that he's the last one to leave the practice court, James Posey has gone 0-for-10 on treys in his last three games.
``The only thing I can do is keep shooting them,'' he said. ``I'm getting up extra shots in practice. That's the only way I know how to correct it. It'll come back. It took a little break unfortunately, but I've still got to take those shots when I have them.''