Celtics

Celtics are struggling in an unfamiliar area – A look at their back-to-back woes

(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The trademark of Brad Stevens’ teams for the last three seasons has been an uncanny ability to overcome challenging circumstances on their way to wins. Last year, injuries were the biggest obstacle the C’s fought through on the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, but they had always been incredibly consistent about one other usual pitfall for 29 other teams around the league dating back to 2015: Winning on the second half of a back-to-back.

The numbers show teams manage to win the tail end of a back-to-back an average of 43 percent of the time. Yet, the Celtics have been among the league leaders in this area for three straight seasons dating back to 2015-16. A look at the results in the tail end of back-to-backs:

2017-18: 9-5
2016-17: 10-7
2015-16: 12-7

With one of the deepest rosters in the NBA, it was expected this area would be a strength for the Celtics in 2018-19 thanks to an influx of healthy talent. Yet, the Celtics have struggled mightily in this area. After dropping Thursday’s game in Miami, Boston is now 2-5 on the season in the second half of back-to-backs. Here’s the full breakdown of their results.

Wins: @ New York, @ Minnesota
Losses: @ Utah, vs. Utah, @ Dallas, @ Detroit, @ Miami

The Celtics were favored in every game except for the loss in Utah (Kyrie Irving missed that game for his grandfather’s memorial service).

While a couple of the back-to-backs have come on the tail end of brutal travel stretches, (a home game the night before, three games in four nights), that hasn’t impacted Boston in the past and it won’t be an out used now by Stevens.

“No excuses from that regard,” Stevens said of the late arrival on Thursday night. “We could have played better. We need to control what we can control.”

So what exactly should we make of these uncharacteristic woes? A few thoughts about what they mean in the interim and the impact down the road.