Road trip ... finally

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Celtics arrived at the Sports Authority Training Center at HealthPoint Saturday afternoon with their bags packed for their first prolonged road trip of the season.

The Celtics are 5-1 on the road so far this year, but have played consecutive games away from home just once -- a brief swing through Philadelphia and Minnesota in early November. With nearly 20 percent of its 2009-10 schedule completed, the Green now hit the road for an entire week.

Boston will play seven of its next eight games away from the Garden, opening with a four-game trip that starts Sunday in Miami and continues in Charlotte, San Antonio, and Oklahoma City. The Green return to the Garden next Tuesday to play Milwaukee, then head right back out to visit Washington, Chicago, and Memphis.

Despite the daunting schedule, the team actually embraces the road.

"We've played better on the road than we have at home," said captain Paul Pierce. "It's definitely a challenging road trip when you look at the teams we're playing, because those teams are really playing well.

"Miami went to Orlando and beat [the Magic]; Charlotte just got Stephen Jackson; San Antonio is San Antonio; and Oklahoma City is playing well. We have our work cut out for us... Hopefully we can carry over what we've been doing on the road thus far to this trip."

Celtics coach Doc Rivers said it's important for the Celtics to get off to good starts on the road -- something the team has struggled with at home -- as it won't be able to recover like it has in the comfy confines of the Garden.

"It's an important trip; four good teams and, unfortunately, all four teams are playing well," said Rivers. "One of the things we can't do is -- the Orlando game, they scored [29] points in the first quarter; last night the big first half [for] Toronto; even the Philadelphia game [the 76ers] had a big first half. We came back in all of those games -- we lost to Orlando -- but we came back in them. You can't do that on the road. You can't get off to a bad defensive start.

"You can get off to a bad start, but it can't be in the defensive end. Once you give the home team confidence offensively, it's very difficult to turn them off."

The Celtics play 10 of 14 games on the road in December with a brief three-game home stand in the middle of the month. That doesn't leave much time to enjoy the holidays. The Celtics wrap up the month of December with another four-game road trip, one that looks a bit more daunting. It starts with a Christmas Day battle in Orlando, then features three games in four nights against the Clippers, Golden State, and Phoenix.