Since mid-January, the Boston Celtics have been sizzling hot. After an ugly start where they seemed destined to finish at .500, something clicked. It all seemed to turn around after a loss — another ugly game where the Celtics let one get away.
The Celtics blew yet another 20-point lead in the second half. This one came against the New York Knicks. After this one, first-year coach Ime Udoka questioned his team’s mental toughness. The players responded in a big way.
After going 25-25 through the first 50 games, the Celtics closed out the season with a 26-6 run. They swept the Brooklyn Nets in the first round of the playoffs. They knocked off the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks and the top-seeded Miami Heat. The Celtics haven’t lost consecutive games in the playoffs. In fact, it’s been quite some time since Boston dropped back-to-back games.
The Boston Celtics are 38-12 in their last 50 games
Getting to the playoffs, never mind the NBA Finals, was a big question mark for the Celtics during the first three months of the 2021-22 season. Not only was the team underachieving, but players, coaches, and fans grew frustrated. Things got so bad, those players and coaches went public with their feelings.
During a postgame press conference in November, Marcus Smart called out Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown for not passing the ball enough. Instead of speaking to them behind closed doors, Smart went public. Maybe it wasn’t the smartest thing to do, but maybe it also woke them up.
Udoka also questioned his team’s effort on multiple occasions. During a West Coast trip, Udoka brought up the lack of hustle after a loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
“We only played a quarter and a half,” Udoka said, according to ESPN. “Gifting them points, that is the frustrating part. The turnovers (22) were enough of a gift. The effort and inconsistency is frustrating at times.”
After a January loss at the Knicks, where the Celtics blew a 24-point lead, Udoka questioned the Celtics’ mental toughness.
“Some people liked it, some people didn’t,” Udoka said, per MassLive. “The team responded as they have all year, and we really said just stop messing around and giving up these leads. We had lost two or three 19-point leads, lost some games to Cleveland, Milwaukee on Christmas, Chicago early in there, and then the New York game. So turning point as far as us getting tired of losing the games that we had built up leads.”
The Celtics closed out the season on a 26-6 run and have gone 12-6 in the postseason.
When is the last time the Celtics lost consecutive games?
The Celtics’ run continued through the postseason. They looked like they might turn back into the Celtics of old in Game 1 against the Brooklyn Nets. They led by double digits in the fourth quarter, only to find themselves down by five points. Instead of wilting, they battled back and won on a Tatum buzzer-beater. Boston closed out the Nets with a four-game sweep.
They knocked out the Bucks and Heat in seven games, turning things up a notch in the deciding games. The Celtics may have failed to take charge when they should have at home in the postseason, but they always bounced back. In the playoffs, Boston never dropped two straight.
In fact, you have to go back to March when the Celtics lost twice in a row, and even that’s questionable.
On March 28, the Celtics lost at the Toronto Raptors. Two days later, they fell at home to the Heat. In that game against the Raptors, the Celtics played without four starters. Tatum, Brown, Al Horford, and Robert Williams all sat that one out, and the Celtics still took the Raptors to overtime before losing 115-112.
Technically, that is the last time the Celtics dropped consecutive games. You’d have to go back to Jan. 19 and Jan. 21 when a full Celtics team lost two straight.