Brad Stevens would never let on. He guards his emotions better than his Celtics guard opponents. But we’ll go ahead and hazard a guess that there are five words he never really wants to hear uttered before a game this year.

May the best team win.

On most nights, the Celtics won’t be that team — and because of rebuilding circumstances, they aren’t constructed to be that club right now. Even on those occasions when they do have an edge on the way in, the quest for victory will be a struggle. It will certainly get better when Rajon Rondo returns, but for now Stevens has to hope on each given evening that his lads will be willing to play defense as if they know each other and the scheme.

One wonders how difficult it must be to repeatedly walk into an arena knowing your team has to play its best and still get help from the opponent to win.

But Stevens is taking the only healthy approach to the issue. He has the wisdom to know that which he cannot change, so he’s not worrying about Goliath as he works with David . . . played by Jeff and Avery and Kelly and Vitor, et al.

“I’ve never looked at it as anything more than this is our team, and we’ve got to prepare our team as well as we can to play against the other team,” said Stevens, whose team has now lost five straight to fall to 4-9. “The other team has these strengths; we have these strengths. How can we minimize theirs and maximize ours? That’s the way I’ve always looked at it, and that’s the way I will continue to look at it. I think it’s really important to do that.

“I don’t get too caught up in — I don’t want to get too caught up in — anything else other than trying to coach our team to the best of their ability and the best of our ability as coaches.”

But what about the fact that the Celtics’ best ability isn’t enough if the opponent brings theirs?

“You’re always going to run into teams that might be more talented than you or on a given night can get it going,” Stevens said. “I always used to say, when we played in college against the North Carolinas of the world, you’d go in and scout them based on what their averages were. And when you played somebody at a lower level, you’d go in and scout them based on what they were capable of.