So how was your day?
Thursday morning, alarm went off at 4:15. By 5:30, I was on a JetBlue flight to Orlando.
That means many things, among them being that while you’re never get the sleep back, you can replace all the things I had to surrender to TSA that can’t go on commercial flights.
But before I crashed into about 47 minutes of the luxury that is commercial-airplane sleep, I was watching Federer-Nadal from the Australian Open. And even with the men’s game in something of a malaise down period, you watch those two because you may very well see something you’re going to remember for a very long time.
Now since the Celtics had already done that Monday in the first half of the home-and-home with the Magic (scroll down to Tuesday morning’s entry), it seemed there was as much chance of it happening again, as there was for Federer after he got run over in the third set tie-breaker.
Monday without Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen, they held the Magic to 56 points, their worst offensive performance in franchise history. Little did we know, they hadn't yet begun to offend.
Thursday, make it a road game, and take starting center Jermaine O’Neal out of the mix. So for perspective, it left the Celtics with two centers to match up with Dwight Howard. One, Greg Steimsma, who averaged 6 points and 4 rebounds a game last year…in Turkey. And the other, Chris Wilcox, who’d made five shots all year and hadn’t played in two weeks.
Elias says the last 282 times an NBA team built a 27-point lead, they held on to win.
So what do you do for an encore after one of the statistically best defensive performances in league history? When you’re down three starters and another key reserve goes down in the first half? When the two point guards you have left have played less than 500 NBA minutes?
You stop a 282-game win streak.
It was the Celtics biggest comeback since 1996. Of all the extraordinary accomplishments of the New Big Three Era, big comebacks haven’t been one of them. Why? Because the Celtics the last five years have rarely gone down by 20 points. In fact, the Celtics entered this year having fallen behind by 20 just 15 times in 4 years….
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
15+ POINT DEFICITS 35 7 11 15 8 7
20+ POINT DEFICITS 17 2 4 6 3 5
The result, it was just the second time since 2007, the C’s had come from 20 down to win. The other being the first leg of the Texas Triangle sweep in 2008. In fact in their first seven wins of the year, their biggest comeback was four.
BIGGEST CELTICS COMEBACKS – (2002-2012)
27 - @ ORLANDO – JANUARY 26, 2012
23 - @ PHILADELPHIA – JANUARY 20, 2003
22 - @ SAN ANTONIO – MARCH 17, 2008
20 - VS. L.A. CLIPPERS – FEBRUARY 9, 2005
20 - @ NEW JERSEY – DECEMBER 9, 2006
19 - @ CLEVELAND – DECEMBER 21, 2002
18 - VS. MEMPHIS – NOVEMBER 9, 2005
17 - @ PHOENIX – DECEMBER 26, 2003
17 - @ PORTLAND – FEBRUARY 24, 2008
16 - @ CLEVELAND – DECEMBER 18, 2004
16 - @ ATLANTA – JANUARY 10, 2006
16 - @ MILWAUKEE – NOVEMBER 25, 2006
16 - VS. SEATTLE – MARCH 9, 2007
16 - VS. TORONTO – NOVEMBER 10, 2008
16 - VS. ATLANTA – NOVEMBER 12, 2008
Of note, the previous high on that list, was also on TNT, MLK night in Philadelphia nine years ago. Marv Albert, who called Thursday's game on TNT, had another one on that list, calling the win in New Jersey for YES in 2006. That was the Paul Pierce buzzer-beater that started a 5-game win streak for the Celtics. And then that season, yeah, went another way.
The two Orlando games follow a compelling win in Washington Sunday. If the Celtics find a way with a 3am arrival this morning to pull off the back-to-back win against the Pacers Friday night, it may not be the best week of the New Big Three Era, but certainly the most shocking.
Now are the Celtics suddenly contenders for the championship again? Can they continue to win games with 3 of their 5 starters on the sidelines? Have we seen the last of Roger Federer as the dominant force on the men's side? Is Tuesdays With Morrie so absurdly popular that a woman was reading it voraciously on my flight this morning as if it came out yesterday?
The last answer is yes, the others you can decide for yourself. But it’s pretty amusing every day to read tweets from people, and columns from writers about the Celtics needing to “blow it up”. When the team on the other end of the floor is the one imploding.
Time check…4:22am. My 24 hours of