DALLAS — By the end of the night Monday, the Boston Celtics had won the last three games on a western trip after starting it with a stinker in Sacramento.

As they pulled within two games of Eastern Conference-leading Cleveland with a 111-98 triumph against Dallas, it was finally OK for the Celtics to look ahead.

“We’re always looking forward,” Isaiah Thomas said. “That’s the team ahead of us. I know my sights are set on Cleveland, though the others probably aren’t worried about them. We’re in reach, but we just have to keep it going.”

That’s why, win in hand, Thomas and his teammates started talking about what’s coming up in their last two games before the All-Star break.

The Celtics are home against the surprisingly good 76ers on Wednesday, then bounce out to Chicago to complete a back-to-back on Thursday.

Despite missing Avery Bradley (Achilles) for 18 of the past 19 games and Jae Crowder (family emergency) for two games on this trip, the Celtics won three of their four games away from the Garden. Overall they have won 10 of their past 11.

“It means a lot. More important are these last two games,” said Thomas, who extended his streak of 20-point games to 38 with 29 against the Mavericks. “We have to end these last two games on the right foot, and we believe we can get two more.”

Crowder returned after missing the games at Utah and Portland, and had the same idea.

“That’s how you get better. That’s how you approach the season,” Crowder said. “Even if we had gone 0-3 or 0-4 on this trip, that’s how you have to move forward. We have a good mindset in this locker room, and coaches keep us looking forward.”

There’s good reason for looking ahead, too. The Celtics, with a 16-of-34 (47.1 percent) performance from downtown, are fourth in the league with made 3-pointers at 670, behind only Houston, Golden State and Cleveland.

For all of the long-range shots they drained in Dallas, it was a previously missing ingredient that had Thomas and Crowder most excited.

The Celtics used a 19-5 run after Devin Harris cut their lead to 88-87 on a 3-pointer with 9:02 left. Dallas barely could breathe in the next 5:42.

“We just kept getting stops,” Thomas said. “We got a few easy baskets in transition, but the biggest thing in the fourth quarter was the stops. We kept contesting their long 2-pointers and we got out running for easy baskets. It gave us a little bit of separation.”

James Young, with a fourth-quarter role for the second straight game, this time had his biggest impact with defense and rebounding.

“We’re playing the right way, especially late in the game,” Crowder said. “Guys are hedging really hard on (Thomas) in pick-and-rolls, and we’re spacing the ball on the other side, getting the ball outside through our bigs. Our bigs have done a great job of knowing when they’re attacking and making the extra pass. That’s really playoff-type basketball, and I think we’re getting really good at that.”

And now comes the All-Star break.

“It’s hard to win a game. I thought we got outplayed the first night and that was probably some of a function of us but more of a function of Sacramento,” Coach Brad Stevens said. “I thought they played great. And then the last three games I thought we played pretty well. But you’ve got to stack these on top of each other and you’ve got to let it go because you play Wednesday night against a team that’s playing really well, and then you turn right back around and play Thursday. So it’s on to the next one.”

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