As impressive as their start has been, the Boston Celtics haven't had to make any cross-country trips to help achieve it.
That changes on Wednesday, when the Celtics seek their first win at Arco Arena in nearly 12 years as they meet the Sacramento Kings to open a western road swing which includes four games in five nights.
Though it will not face the Western Conference's elite teams during this trip, Boston (22-3) could make a statement that it will not be cooling off anytime soon.
Some have claimed the Celtics have benefited from a favorable early schedule, with 15 of their first 25 games at home. Only four games were against teams from the West and none against top teams San Antonio, Phoenix and Dallas.
Another month will pass before Boston faces any of those squads, though this road trip does present some challenges.
The Celtics have lost 11 consecutive games in Sacramento since Feb. 16, 1996. After Ray Allen makes his return to Seattle on Thursday, Boston closes the trip with games this weekend against two playoff teams from last season - Utah and the Los Angeles Lakers.
Boston has won 11 of 12 with the only loss coming last Wednesday to Detroit, the second-best team in the East. The Celtics, though, are coming off a win over the conference's other division leader, beating Orlando 103-91 on Sunday.
"I had an expectation that we were going to be a good team," Boston coach Doc Rivers said. "The good thing is, and I keep saying this, we're playing OK. We have a chance to be, if we keep working on it, so much better than we are right now."
One reason for such optimism is the ongoing development of Rajon Rondo. The second-year point guard has not been shy playing alongside the superstar trio of Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, attempting at least 10 field goals in five straight games.
Rondo has averaged 15.0 points in that span, shooting 56.4 percent from the floor while averaging 5.8 assists and 2.2 steals. He tied a career high with 23 points Sunday, including his first two 3-pointers of the season.
"Most teams start doubling off Rondo," Allen said. "He's proven that he can knock that jump shot down. That's been the question of him going into the season and, up to this point, he's done a great job for us."
Sunday's win marked the first time in more than eight years the Celtics had four players score more than 20 points in a game. Pierce had 24, Allen scored 22 and Garnett had 21 to go with 12 rebounds.
Rondo's only scoreless game of the season came against Sacramento on Dec. 12, but the Celtics won 90-78 behind Pierce's 26 points.
That game was the opener of a five-game road trip for the Kings (11-15), but they bounced back to win three of the final four. They returned home Sunday, blowing a 16-point lead and losing 106-105 to Denver on Linas Kleiza's buzzer-beater.
"This one hurts. We've got to put it behind us somehow," Kings guard Francisco Garcia said. "I don't remember in the last three years one that hurts like this. We were playing so good, too."
Ron Artest led Sacramento with 24 points and is averaging 23.3 over the last three games while going 8-of-16 from 3-point range.
The Kings' most recent loss was just their fourth in 14 games when scoring at least 100 points. Boston has not allowed 100 points in eight straight games, giving up an average of 82.8.
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