WALTHAM — The Celtics' long-term future may be inextricably linked to the Nets' short-term stumbles, and that brings some added intrigue to the games the teams will play against each other on Friday and Sunday.
In June, the Celtics will receive the Nets' first-round draft pick. Since the Nets are 2-10 and have shown no signs of being a playoff contender, there is some feverish optimism among Celtics fans.
Boston could be a rare team that is in position to progress and chase a playoff berth while also having the value of a high draft pick tucked in its pocket. Two Celtics wins this weekend would hardly have a seismic impact on the value of the pick, but the general consensus is that every bit helps.
The pick is part of the lingering bounty from the trade that sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn. The Celtics also will have the right to swap first-round picks with the Nets in 2017, and they will receive the Nets' 2018 first-round pick outright.
In a recent Globe online poll, 61 percent of respondents said they were more focused on the Nets' 2016 first-round draft pick than the Celtics' quest to make the playoffs. But Celtics guard Evan Turner, for one, said it can be a mistake to focus too much on the unknown.
"I don't pay attention to draft picks, to tell you the truth, because guys still have to come and play," Turner said. "Obviously this draft is pretty crowded, but last year everybody blew smoke up the draft, and you may be getting [expletive] disguised as steak, you know what I'm saying? So you really just focus on what you can control.
"Sometimes it might be a two-man draft and if you're the third team you might be [left out], and same with you get a great player like Joel Embiid and he's hurt for two straight years. You can't really focus on the future, because it's never guaranteed."
Despite the Nets' record, Celtics coach Brad Stevens cautioned that this weekend would offer challenges. After stumbling to an 0-7 start, Brooklyn has wins over the Hawks and Rockets, and it took the undefeated Warriors to overtime.
"They've been playing really well," Stevens said. "And the thing about it is you can tell there's a great deal of urgency in their play."
The Celtics coughed up an 18-point first-half lead in their 106-102 loss to the Mavericks on Wednesday. But on Thursday, Stevens did not dwell on what his team had done wrong. Instead, he showed clips of what it had done well.
"We did a lot of good things," Stevens said. "You know what? I'm going to stay positive and we're going to move on and we're going to be better tomorrow, hopefully, than we were [Wednesday] night. But that's hard every night in this league, because somebody is trying to beat you."
The players were not completely shielded from their gaffes, though.
"They'll see those individually," Stevens said.
Putting the time in
It is common for some Celtics to stay after practice and spend extra time working on their shooting. But after Thursday's session, Turner completed an extended workout, hoisting jump shots for nearly an hour. He said it is part of a regimen he added this season after doing something similar at Ohio State. "Steve Nash used to do a drill on offdays that was kind of game-like with his shots," Turner said. "This is kind of my version of it. We just get a lot of stuff done in that area. I've probably done it like six or seven times this season. It helps, I think. It gets a lot done, in my personal opinion, quick for days like this." Turner said he usually completes the drills when practices are brief. His goal is to stay prepared in case he is called upon to play extensive minutes in a game . . . The Celtics reassigned Jordan Mickey, James Young, and Terry Rozier to the Maine Red Claws of the D-League.