The Los Angeles Lakers can't turn on their laptops or open up a newspaper without seeing the team in the news. Trade rumors, tough losses to top teams, critics -- from near and far -- saying they're too old.
But it's clear how Kobe Bryant feels about the season and the current makeup of the team.
"Come on now, you know me. We'll be ready," Bryant said on 710 ESPN Wednesday afternoon. "Trust me. What we're going through right now, it will make it that much sweeter."
Bryant said the Celtics are the most daunting opponent in the Lakers' quest to three-peat.
"I think they understand us really well," he said "It's a challenge."
Los Angeles is 1-6 in games played against the NBA's elite teams. But that doesn't sway Bryant's confidence in the Lakers and their direction.
"[General manager] Mitch [Kupchak] has done a fantastic job to this point, so I let him do his job," Bryant said. "My role is to keep the train, the ship moving in the right direction."
On Jan. 30, the Lakers lost to the Celtics 109-96 at Staples Center. Thursday's meeting would be the last between the two teams unless they meet in the NBA Finals.