Ask any Celtics fan what the ultimate streak of futility is in the history of the storied franchise and they’ll be able to reel off the number and year as quickly as naming the amount of NBA leading championships they have. Ironically, those numbers are nearly identical (18 for the losing streak, 17 for the titles). Back then, the Celtics entered the season with intentions on making the playoffs with a bunch of young players with potential being lead by Paul Pierce. Pierce would sustain a foot injury early in the season, Tony Allen would tear his ACL and things quickly got out of hand. On January 7th, 2007 the 18 game losing streak began and did not end until over a month later on February 14th with a home shellacking against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Fast forward seven years and one awesome championship era later, and this current rebuilding version is mired in a similar mess. Granted, they haven’t dropped 18 straight or broken that record but there is a solid argument that this slump is much worse. Prior to Wednesday’s groin kick by Evan Turner, the Celtics had dropped 18 of their last 21 games. Not exactly 18 in a row but basically the same. And if you’re holding your head high over home wins against equally pathetic Cleveland (which the C’s could have easily dropped had Bass been called for a foul he clearly committed at the end) or a double OT win in Washington that took every ounce of career best games from Jeff Green and Phil Pressey then, sure, I guess. The home win against the Raptors has been the only “impressive” win of the lot, and while the Raptors are playing well, let’s not get carried away.
So is this slump worse than the record in 2007? During the streak in 2007, the point differential average was -8.2 point per game. During the current slump of dropping 18 of 21, the differential in those losses was -10.8 points per game, almost three points per game worse. During the 18 game streak in 2007, the largest margin of defeat was 14 which happened twice. This current slump has had margins of 31, 27, 26, 23, 18. To be fair, Paul Pierce did not return from injury until games 17 and 18 of that losing streak, but even after they won vs Milwaukee, they went on another four game losing streak. Rajon Rondo has also returned from an injury this time around and has missed all but five of those games.
We all remember the atrocity of that franchise record streak, but looking at those numbers and watching some of these recent games especially against the Pacers (understandable), Thunder (twice, both without Westbrook one at home without Durant), Nuggets (not exactly a powerhouse) and Knicks (really?) it’s rough to watch. This is all part of the pain of rebuilding, some parts of it hurt worse than others. For the long-term the Celtics are actually in a good place. It’s just the short term that’s been brutal.