Celtics' Next Ten Games: A Test of Heart.

I can't wait to get my hands on this guy and his team again.

With less than a week left before the Celtics face their West Coast rivals, I'm sure everyone's anticipating nothing but a wholehearted performance from the Green and White. What makes their first meeting this season a more emotional one is they'll be playing at The Staples, the place where they damn tried and it all "supposedly" ended for Doc Rivers and The Big Three era.

As we all know, history has been lately repeating itself for Boston. Similar to the last two seasons, we've had heroic starts until Christmas day. Everything's in full gear and it looks like we're going to hit 70 wins or more. After the yuletide season however and when the following year kicks in, that's when all the negative mystique happens. The injuries multiply, the losses begin to creep in and then pile up, and more alarmingly the winning swagger and intensity declines.

That's when you see the Cs start giving games away to .500 teams and below and occasionally, being blown away by such squads even at the Garden.

If there's every any scary yet motivational schedule that would keep the Boston Celtics focused in winning and establishing its presence, it would definitely be the next ten games. Seven out those ten are with playoff bound teams. Five out of those seven are match-ups with power teams (Lakers - twice, Mavericks, Magic and Heat). A majority of those games will be played at home so it would be interesting to see how Doc Rivers and his guys manage to protect their own floor against the big boys of the NBA.

I'm assuming that by this time Delonte West and Kendrick Perkins would be seeing some action already and we get a glimpse of what Boston looks like when it's at full strength and how they play. And there's nothing like taking this team out for a test drive against the likes of Bryant, Nowitzki, Howard and the South Beach trio at this point of the season when all the rust has already been shaken off and when these guys are also playing at full intensity.

Remember that one of our goals, if the Cs are able to manage their health issues well, is to get the top seed in the East (or possibly, the league). You'll never know when you'll be needing that Game 7 and it'll be good to have it in the bag for good measure.

At 33-10, and from a realistic point of view ... I have no complaints about the Cs record. Great balancing act by the Doc. I've seen a lot of young players step up and fill in their roles and Shaq, when playing has just mostly been phenomenal. Rajon continues to be a consistent dominant force. Ray hasn't skipped a beat in his shooting rhythm, and Paul, although he missed that possible game winner against Washington, has been more than ever an aggressive SOB (son of Boston).

Kevin Garnett however, as Pierce mentioned, is one important piece in the puzzle the Cs would need to stay healthy if they would ever raise another banner. So expect The Big Ticket's minutes to be in check this second half of the season in preparation for the real deal come April.

In the meantime, let's keep our fingers crossed as the first of these next 10 games passes by this Tuesday and the Boston Celtics square off with the Cleveland Cavaliers and their mental state of mind.

Let's hope it's in massacre mode and stays that way every time, every game, at the Garden.