The Boston Celtics lost tonight. It was a bad loss. And it also keeps a disappointing trend alive.
Here’s what has happened in each game coming out of the game under Brad Stevens:
2013-14: 100-94 loss to Phoenix Suns
Brad Stevens and company has actually won four of six heading into the break and early February was actually one of the high points on what was otherwise a miserable season. Phoenix did enter this game at 31-21 and would have been heavy favorites to beat what was a bad Boston team. Rajon Rondo kept the game competitive by finishing with 18 points, ten assists and seven rebounds but it ulitmently wasn’t enough as the Suns pulled away in the final few minutes. Gerald Wallace, Jared Sullinger, Jeff Green and Brandon Bass started alongside Rondo for this one while Avery Bradley sat the game out with an injury. Kelly Olynyk and Chris Johnson co-led the bench with seven points each. The Suns – who would go onto miss the playoffs despite going 48-34 – were led by Gerald Green and Goran Dragic, who each finished with 17 points.
2014-15: 109-101 loss to Sacramento Kings
A lot of people credit Boston’s late season turnaround to the trade deadline accusation of Isaiah Thomas – which did play a big part in them fighting their way into the playoffs – but things had actually been looking up before that deal. The Celtics once again went into the break on a high note, defeating the Eastern Conference leading Atlanta Hawks 89-88 thanks to an Evan Turner buzzer beater. This allowed them to go into the break winning four of five and you could see the team turning into winner right before your eyes. While they were hot going into the break and continued to be a force after it, their first game back was still a speed bump. Avery Bradley would score 28 points, Tyler Zeller would add another 22 but none of it was enough to slow down DeMarcus Cousins and Rudy Gay, who scored 31 and 28 points respectively.
2015-16: 111-93 loss to Utah Jazz
Did you notice any themes between the first two games that Stevens coached coming out of the All-Star break? The team came into their week off playing well before dropping that first game back. This year’s team was no different, winning five of six heading into the break – including impressive wins over the Cleveland Cavaliers and a fully healthy Clippers team – but Utah just wacked them in this one. The Jazz outrebounded Boston 51-34 and just crushed them in second chance points. Jared Sullinger did hold his own by bringing down 11 boards but Amir Johnson grabbed just one on the night and they were shorthanded on the bench a bit with Olynyk out injured. All of Utah’s starters went on to score in double-figures, led by Derrick Favors’s 23.
2016-17: 107-97 loss to Toronto Raptors
We all knew the first part of this yearly trend was in place. Even though Boston lost a heartbreaker in Chicago going into the All-Star break, they were still seen as one of the hottest teams across the NBA. Things looked good when Boston led by as many as 17 points during the first half but things took a turn when DeMarre Carroll landed a hard foul on Thomas – getting charged with a Flagrant One in the process – but it also baited both Thomas and Crowder into technical fouls and Toronto went on a little run to finish the first half. That one play got the crowd into the game, it fired up the Raptors bench and it momentarily seemed to shake Thomas, who got called for his own Flagrant One foul just moments later when he hammered DeMar DeRozan. This all carried over to the second half and it just wasn’t the Celtics night. It was their final game against Toronto and they finish the season just 1-3 against their Atlantic Division rivals, meaning they won’t win a tiebreaker if it comes down to it at the end of the season.
And just for fun, here’s what Doc Rivers and company did during the “Big Three” era.
2007-08: 124-118 loss to Denver Nuggets
Carmelo Anthony scored 29, Allen Iverson scored 28. That’ll do it.
2008-09: 90-85 loss to Utah Jazz
What’s with all these west coast road trips coming out of the All-Star break?
2009-10: 95-92 win over Sacramento Kings
Holy crap. A win!
2010-11: 115-93 win over Golden State Warriors
Kendrick Perkins scored five points and snagged seven rebounds. They were his final five points and final seven rebounds as a Celtic. You can guess what happened the very next day.
2011-12: 86-83 win over Cleveland Cavaliers
Boston went into the break on a five game losing streak, so this was a much needed victory.
2012-13: 97-90 loss to Denver Nuggets
Jeff Green dropped 20 points to kick start his high scoring second half, which would make people believe that he had potential as a “go to guy” in his future.