The Celtics got their back-to-back wins — taking a tough one over the Mavericks in double overtime Wednesday night — but can they make it back-to-back-to-back Friday night in Houston?
Boston has won three straight only once this season, beating Milwaukee, Chicago, and Utah a month ago.
“It’s going to be tough,” Paul Pierce said. “We start off with an up-and-coming team in Houston, and it’s no fun when you’re going back-to-back in San Antonio. So we’ve definitely got our work cut out for us.
“The key when you go on these three-game road trips is to try to get the first one and build from there.”
Houston (10-11) presents the easiest matchup for the 12-9 Celtics, followed by division leaders San Antonio (18-5) and Chicago (12-9). The Rockets had lost three straight before beating lowly Washington Wednesday night.
“I really rarely look at our record,” Rivers said before Wednesday’s game. “I don’t think I could ever tell you our exact record. Having said that, I know if we get the team right, then the record will take care of itself. I really do focus all on that.
“I feel like over the last four or five games we’ve played better than what we’ve won, but at the end of the day you’ve got to win. That’s it. You are what your record says, and you always will be. I do think we’re playing better now, but now we have to do it consistently and have to put it together.
“We’ve played  games and, to me, we’ve won two in a row. That’s not good enough for what we want to be and where we need to be. At some point we have to put a string together, whether it’s on the road or at home or combined effort. We have to do it.”
Coming up small
Rivers was frustrated by how the Celtics played Wednesday when they went to a smaller lineup. “It’s funny,” he said. “They went small, we went small, you would think your tempo would increase. We actually went the other way.” Rivers was also displeased with the defense in the fourth quarter and overtime. “We were small,” Rivers said. “Our rotations got bad, because I was asking them to do probably things they hadn’t worked on.” . . . Despite recent improvements from Jeff Green, there is room for growth. He shot 5 for 16 Wednesday, scoring 15 points and grabbing five rebounds. “I can’t let those shots get to me,” Green said. “I can’t get down because I missed an open shot or an open three or a layup. I’ve got to continue to attack the rim, continue to be aggressive.” Said Rivers, “Jeff is staying aggressive. We’ve just got to get him better. Defensively, there’s things he’s got to do better. It’s on us to make him better, not on him. That’s what we’re going to try to do.”
Lost in the Jason Terry-Mavericks reunion Wednesday was another reunion — former Celtics coach Jim O’Brien (2000-04) is an assistant on Rick Carlisle’s staff. “He was one of the guys, really, that had a great impact and a great influence on this franchise reemerging back in the early 2000s when they got to the conference finals,” Carlisle said. “Pierce and [Antoine] Walker, that team, which was kind of gradually working their way up, they kind of broke through. That was huge for this organization . . . He’s had a great impact on Boston sports. That shouldn’t be forgotten.”