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Celtics riding high heading into toughest road trip of the season

Avery Bradley and the Celtics will get their second crack at the Warriors this seaGetty Images

During the long regular season, Brad Stevens is not so much concerned with the end result of each game, but more so how his Celtics team got to the end of the game. You might even think he'd take a hard-fought, well-executed game that ended in a loss over a sloppy win.

On Wednesday against one of the best teams in the NBA, Stevens got the best of both worlds - the Celtics played a complete game of basketball on both ends of the court and walked off their TD Garden floor with a big four-point win over the team they're chasing in the Eastern Conference, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

How much of an effect this win has on either team down the road is anybody's guess - they still meet one more time in Boston - but if seeing is believing, then there is plenty of reason to believe the Celtics can roll with the Cavaliers.

They took Cleveland's punches from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, and punched back with Isaiah Thomas and an Avery Bradley-led defensive effort. The win also allows them to enjoy their plane ride out west a heck of a lot more, as they begin a five-game road trip beginning Friday in Los Angeles against the "rival" Lakers.

"It gives us a lot of confidence," Thomas said. "If we would have lost it would have been tough going into that road trip. So we got a lot of confidence and hopefully we can take care of business. Hopefully we can win games on this road trip."

Jae Crowder echoed Thomas' comments, saying heading out on a win gives them momentum after a "bad loss" to the Hawks.

Here's a look at what the Celtics will face on their west coast swing:

March3 - Los Angeles Lakers

Why they'll win: These two teams met earlier this season in Boston, and once the Celtics started playing their style of basketball and not the showtime Lakers' style, they were effective. Expect that from the start.

Why they'll lose: Yes, the C's go in to this game riding some momentum, but they can't rest on their laurels against a Lakers team with nothing to play for this season.

March5 - Phoenix Suns

Why they'll win: Quick, name three players on the Suns. Eric Bledsoe, Devin Booker, and, and, umm… yeah. Those are two solid guards, but Boston's defense and depth is too much.

Why they'll lose: Well, these two teams haven't met yet this season, so there is a bit of unfamiliarity there. That's all we got. Oh, and Devin Booker.

March 6- Los Angeles Clippers

Why they'll win: The Clips have lost three of four out of the break, and with back-to-back road games on Friday and Saturday, they could be reeling by the time Boston arrives on Monday.

Why they'll lose: Live by the three, die by the three. The C's took a franchise record 52 three-pointers against the Clips on Feb. 5. They hit 16. If they go cold in this one, it could be ugly.

March8 - Golden State Warriors

Why they'll win: The C's went toe-to-toe with the Warriors in one of the best regular season games of the year earlier this season. Now, the Warriors are without Kevin Durant.

Why they'll lose: Durant or no Durant, the Warriors are a force. All it means is more shots for their other All-Stars. And they're currently 26-3 at home.

March10 - Denver Nuggets

Why they'll win: The Nuggets are hanging on to that No. 8 seed, but this isn't much of a playoff team. They rank 28th in opponent points per game (111.4) and are just 16-14 at home.

Why they'll lose: Remember this name: Nikola Jokic. The Nuggets big man is just one year into the league and already a stud, averaging 15.6 points and 9.2 rebounds.

 
 
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